How to incorporate podcasting into your curriculum this school year
School is almost back in session and educators are busy working on curriculum for the upcoming school year that will challenge students, improve their communication skills and provide a platform to express their thoughts and interests. If you haven’t created a podcasting unit before, there are plenty of platforms that will help you get started with low or no start-up costs.
My son and I started The Middle School Mind podcast last fall as a way to give him a platform to express his, sometimes random, 6th grade thoughts. We had so much fun making the podcast that we’ve created a tutorial to encourage students to plan, produce and publish their own podcasts and hope educators will incorporate podcasts into their curriculum.
According to a recent survey published by Kids Listen, an organization of advocates for high-quality audio content for children, nearly two-thirds of the respondents have been listening to podcasts for more than one year.
Respondents cited that podcasts are fun and offer entertainment value while some offer educational value through current events, history or science and nature-themed shows as primary reasons for listening to podcasts. Many families like podcasts as a way to keep kids engaged and off screens and something the entire family can listen to in the car.
Meet The Middle School Mind
We started The Middle School Mind because we also love listening to podcasts. We started the show when my son started 6th grade and wanted his own YouTube or Twitch channel to stream video games like Minecraft and Fortnite.
My wife and I had strong reservations with him posting online content that would include his name or image. People can be cruel on the internet and online message boards and comments sections can be places that are detrimental to a middle schooler’s ego and view of self-worth.
We go by Father and Son on our show to maintain a level of anonymity and privacy. This allows my son to speak freely and openly on the show without fear of being judged, identified or bullied online. During our first season, we covered a wide variety of topics ranging from school resource officers, video games and even a two part episode where we interviewed middle school teachers (who also happen to be close family members).
This has been such a rewarding experience and I look forward to the informal episode ‘pitch meetings’ in the car or at the dinner table. I ask my son to jot down three to four bullets for our outline once he commits to a topic, and then we have 30 to 40 minutes of real conversation. It’s such a gratifying experience as a parent to see him excited to prep and record.
We think this would be amazing for teachers to incorporate podcasting into your communications curriculum this year. Podcasting gives your students a platform and a voice to be heard while offering privacy and anonymity from creeps on the internet.
How to incorporate podcasting into your class curriculum
We started our podcast using Anchor.fm which is a free online platform and we found the process to be pretty easy to record, edit and publish within the Anchor website. We realize there are many choices out there, but we created a tutorial to start a podcast on Anchor because that is what we know.
Here are the key steps to create a podcast curriculum for your students:
- Because of my career, I have access to a Chromebook and a USB microphone used for work conference calls. Many schools today have access to similar technology that can be used to create podcasts in the classroom.
- Planning an episode. Students can improve their communication skills by identifying a topic, crafting an outline and writing scripts to layout their first episode.
- Creative outlet. Students can have fun coming up with the name of their podcast or episode ideas or segments. On The Middle School Mind, we frequently end our episodes with short quizzes or Would You Rather questions. Students also have the opportunity to create unique episode cover art that is reflective of their show and personality.
- Recording and editing. The Anchor platform allows students to record their segments, insert stock music for introductory songs and even transition effects to jump from segment to segment. Anchor also has built-in editing tools for students to cut quiet spots and to splice a cohesive episode with multiple segments
- Finally, the platform allows students to easily publish content that would entertain, educate and engage listeners in the car or at home. Anchor also has a way to submit podcasts to a variety of listening platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and other major podcast platforms.
If this feels like a daunting task, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. The Middle School Mind published a three-episode series over the summer to encourage kids to make their own kid’s podcast. We also published a step-by-step PDF guide to help kids, parents and teachers start your own podcasts.
We hope you have a great school year and we look forward to hearing what is on your middle schoolers’ minds!
Father (not his real name), is the co-host and producer of The Middle School Mind podcast with his 12-year-old son, who is the founder and host of the show. The two started the show as a way to give his son a platform for his tween thoughts and ideas while maintaining the privacy and anonymity that every superhero wants and values. Father can be reached via e-mail at:
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.