Monday, June 2, 2008

Short Audio Essays as Writing Prompts

NPR's "This I Believe" segments and WGBH's "Morning Stories" are short, thoughtful, and thought provoking essays covering a wide range of topics. These essays are broadcast over the air at various times (check your local station listings) and are also available as podcasts directly from the NPR and WGBH websites and from iTunes. One "This I Believe" story that grabbed my attention as I was driving to work last week was the story of an attorney given the unenviable task of awarding compensation to the families of 9/11 victims. Listen to the full story, "What Is the Value of a Human Life?" by clicking here.

Applications for Education
Both of these programs are available as podcasts for use in the classroom. The topics of the essays vary greatly so there is bound to be something that every humanities teacher can use as a conversation starter or a writing prompt. Both programs have written transcripts of the audio recordings available on their websites. The transcripts are a good for students to have to refer back to during classroom discussion or as they write responses to the essays.