As teachers get more creative about differentiating for student needs, we’re turning to tools that use other approaches than writing a report or creating a class play. One I hear more and more about is podcasts. Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Emily Southey, has some thoughts on how to integrate podcasts into your lesson planning:
In the age of technology, students and teachers alike listen to podcasts in their spare time. They are funny, entertaining, and often educational. Podcasts are episodic series of audio, video, or PDF files that can be downloaded or streamed through the internet. In addition to the podcasts that already exist in the world, there are enormous benefits to having your students record podcasts of their own. I have found that podcasts can be used both as material for class and as an evaluation tool. What follows are 4 ways that podcasts can be introduced into the classroom. Enjoy!
As an alternative to an oral report
Oral presentations can get old for both the students and the teacher. Having students record their presentations as podcasts and upload them to the class website can be both a class time saver as well as a medium where students can express their creativity with the option to include music or interviews. In addition, assigning a podcast instead of an oral report may allow the shyer students in the class to flourish, as their fears about standing up in front of their peers will be mitigated. This lesson plan from Dr. Pastore highlights several topics that students could create a podcast on with links to examples of podcasts that cover courses ranging from French as a second language to math.
As ELA material
The narrative structures of certain podcasts are perfectly suitable to an ELA class. As podcasts can be either fiction or non-fiction and have an episodic plot, they would provide an excellent subject of analysis in an ELA setting. For example, using a podcast such as Serial would work well in a classroom because the story is compelling and the students would be interested in each piece of evidence. Furthermore, this topic could open up discussions about the prosecution of criminals as well as the practice of investigative journalism.
Creating podcasts of the material that you are reviewing is an excellent study method. Research shows that it is much easier for our brains to retain information when we speak out loud. Having students create podcasts to review different topics is a great way to study before an exam. Suggest to your students that they create podcasts either in groups or individually of any material they have to review for an upcoming test. Alternatively, the class could work together in creating a study guide in podcast form that the whole class can then revise from. There is also the option of the teacher recording the podcast for the benefit of the students. Check out the review podcasts Mr. Couse created for his 6th grade Science class by clicking here. Once recorded, you can opt to play the podcast in class as a way to review for exams, or assign your students the task of listening to the podcast at home.
As an independent learning project
As an ongoing learning project, you could have each student research a topic and create a weekly or bi-weekly podcast on the developments of the event. They could be assigned a particular news topic in a geography, history, or social studies class, or weekly podcasts could even replace reading responses in an ELA class. 60 Second Science is a podcast where an expert scientist discusses a scientific topic for under 2 minutes. A similar style could be adopted by students whereby they research a topic and give a knowledgeable but brief explanation of that topic.
The possibilities are endless, and regardless of which avenue you take, creating a podcast will be a welcome alternative to the abundance of written assignments your students are assigned. A few apps that work well for recording a podcast are Soundtrap, GarageBand, Vocaroo, and SoundCloud. In terms of uploading your podcast, the best places are Podbean and YouTube, both of which will quickly upload Mp3 files for your class to listen to.
–Emily Southey graduated from McGill University in June 2015. Since graduating, she has been working full-time as Content Director at GradeSlam, an educational technology company specializing in on-demand, online tutoring.
More on audio learning
Web-based audio webtools