If you know me at all, you know that I am absolutely obsessed with podcasts. I listen on my way to work, when I walk my dog, and when I’m doing chores around the house. Like so many others, I started with Serial and fell deep down into the rabbit hole of true crime podcasts.
In the past few months, I’ve started to venture out of my rabbit hole and explore new podcasts. When I saw that we were going to be exploring the use of podcasts in the classroom I was SO excited, so excited that I didn’t know where to begin.
I started off by reading this suggested article: Why Listening to Podcasts Helps Kids Improve Reading Skills on KQED. To summarize, a teacher used episodes of This American Life and Serial and noticed increases in the areas of critical thinking and engagement. He also saw something a bit unexpected: his students were showing more interest in READING. For a deeper look, I highly recommend reading the article The Value of Using Podcasts in Class published by Michael Godsey for The Atlantic.
As a forever bibliophile and future librarian, this idea is really exciting to me and it got the wheels turning. How can podcasts be used across the curriculum?
I’m pretty sure there could be an entire blog dedicated to this idea, but keep reading below for a few of my own ideas and podcast suggestions.
Students are constantly connected to their phones and using podcasts in the classroom is a perfect way to take advantage of that.
Assigning students to listen to podcasts at home or during a quiet study period, is a low stress way to prepare them for future class activities, discussions, or debates.
Undisclosed: If you have a student that is interested in true crime and has listened to Serial, you could recommend Undisclosed. Undisclosed is hosted by three attorneys and they take a much closer look at the legal issues of the Adnan Syed case. They are currently covering the story of Freddie Gray, which has been eye opening to me in MANY ways.
74 seconds: 74 seconds is a fresh look at the shooting of Philando Castile, which was an instant headliner because his girlfriend broadcast the aftermath on Facebook Live. The first four episodes give a summary of events, and new episodes are focused on trial.
There are so many true crime podcasts that could spark a student’s interest, but sometimes the content can be far too graphic , so it is crucial to remember this when recommending your personal favorites to students.
Grammar Girl: Mignon Fogerty, also known as Grammar Girl, publishes short 10-15 minute podcasts. Each podcast is broken up further into 3-4 minute sections that discuss not only grammar rules and word origins in an interesting and engaging way, but also offers insights into fun language based topics like discussing whether or not Pig Latin is a language.
In the classroom: An English teacher could assign students to listen to Grammar Girl, and apply what they’ve learned to a warm up or lesson the next day. I love that Grammar Girl includes transcripts, making it easy for students to read and listen or for the teacher to create a worksheet guiding the listener.
Up First & The Daily: I do not have fond memories of current events assignments in school. For struggling readers, newspapers are not very friendly reading, and it’s easy to be led astray on the internet with click bait and fake news. Lately, I’ve been listening to NPR’s Up First. Up First is designed to get you caught up on what you need to know for the day in 10-15 minutes. The New York Times has a similar podcast, The Daily, but it’s generally a bit longer – averaging around 25 minutes.
In the classroom: After listening to these podcasts, students could write down the big ideas or participate in real time class discussion or a virtual discussion board.
I have so many more ideas to share with you, I can’t wait! I can see Podcasts in the Classroom becoming a regular feature; it is a topic that deserves a lot of attention.
I’d love to hear from you. What are your favorite podcasts? What podcasts are you using in your classroom? Which podcasts deserve to be featured here? Leave me a comment and let me know!