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).
A podcast is a topic-specific digital stream of audio files (in some cases, video or PDF also) that can be downloaded to a computer or a wide variety of media devices. They are funny, entertaining, educational, often short, and rarely boring. They can cover news, current events, history, or pretty much anything the creator would like. When you subscribe, each new episode is automatically downloaded to your device, to be played at your convenience. You can play the entire stream or select an individual episode.
Create your own
If you’re creating your own podcast, all you need is a digital device, a microphone, an Internet connection, and a topic you’re passionate about. The two most popular sites for creating podcasts are Audacity (for PCs) and Garageband (for Macs and mobile devices). Once the podcast is completed, it is saved (typically) as an MP3 which can be played through any program that accepts that file type such as QuickTime, Windows Media, SoundCloud, and even Google Drive.
Here are popular ways to use podcasts in your lesson plans:
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.