Giving Students a Voice: Podcast!

Ever since I started teaching, back in the misty annals of time, I’ve tried to give students options for sharing ideas. My students, from elementary to graduate school, have written reports (of course), created poetry, acted out scenarios, built art works or models, composed music, recorded radio dramas, made charts and diagrams, etc. etc. Each type of product allows students to showcase different strengths while also demonstrating their understanding. But until now, we haven’t tried podcasting. I think it is about time.

I enjoy listening to podcasts, particularly when I’m out walking, but I hadn’t considered creating one with students until I ran across an article titled, Three Ways Podcasting Can Strengthen Core Academic Skills. Reading the article and clicking on the links to student voices had me sold. One of the things I most appreciated was the author’s care in describing the need for planning to build a successful personal narrative. Podcasting is not simply chatting over the air; it is developing a sense of story and identifying the key ideas that make the story powerful. Because I’m not an expert podcaster, I went searching for resources to help me. Fortunately, I found an abundance.

First, though this year’s deadlines have passed, NPR’s The Student Podcast Challenge, is full of helpful resources for either the student challenge (grades 5-12) or the college podcast challenge. You can scroll down the page to listen to examples from past winners. Teachers can find a wonderful curriculum guide for teaching students to develop podcasts, including things like choosing a topic, interviewing practice, brainstorming sounds, and more. Reading the lessons made me want to go out and try them! Parallel materials are available for students.

Another professional development opportunity comes from The New York Times Learning Network. Their webinar, “Teaching Students How to Create Their Own Podcasts” is available on YouTube, and linked below. Read Write Think, from the National Council of Teachers of English, has an information sheet on Nuts and Bolts of Creating Podcasts, including language arts activities for grades 3-12. Needless to say, a quick search with your favorite browser will lead to even more options. Students can use podcasts to share book reviews, interesting science content, commentary on world events, personal narratives, or just about anything else of interest.  Helping students learn to share their idea in an interesting format, organize key ideas and express themselves clearly sounds like an exciting adventure. I’d love to hear what you do.

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