Introducing Students to Podcasts

I recently received an email from a teacher looking for resources to introduce her students to podcasts. Rather than keeping the ideas stuck in an email, I decided to share them wider here.

According to Wikipedia, podcasting has been around for roughly 15-20 years. I’m probably not the only one who didn’t really care about regularly listening to podcasts until I got sucked into the true-crime podcast Serial in 2014. As Rolling Stone reported, “Sure, podcasts existed before Serial. But who cared?” KQED even wrote about teachers who were engaging high school students with the podcast’s powerful storytelling.

There are a lot of great podcasts available, but finding good examples that are appropriate and engaging for the classroom can be challenging. In response to the aforementioned teacher’s request, here’s a collection of resources that will help with introducing students to podcasts, including lessons and examples that are appropriate for school. In addition, find links below for learning how to use Soundtrap (available for use by teachers and students in the Durham District School Board) for podcasting.

Podcasting Resources

The Edublogger recently published The Edublogger’s Guide to Podcasting. This is a great primer for understanding what podcasts are and how they can be used in education. Be sure to check out the sample podcasts, the student-created podcasts and the 50 Ideas for Student Created Podcasts included in the guide.

In response to a recent tweet by York Region educator Jen Giffin, DDSB tech coach Carolyn Wilson mentioned NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge. While the challenge is only open to students who live in the United States, the resources that NPR has pulled together in support of the challenge are phenomenal and include pretty much everything else you might need to get podcasting happening in your classroom. NPR’s Teaching Podcasts: A Curriculum Guide for Educators includes six lessons that cover introducing podcasts to students all the way through the actual production of the podcast. The lessons also include many brief examples that can be included in the lessons to help students better understand the format and its conventions.

Elementary Tech Coach Topher Stevens has also created Podcasting in the Classroom: An Adventure Guide! that includes an overview, some guiding questions, examples podcasts, and some support resources for using Soundtrap. Topher invites you to make a copy of the slideshow and adapt it for your own uses. Be sure to also check out The Innovators’ Compass to Podcasting linked in the slidedeck as well.

More sample podcasts for the classroom

As you explore the resources listed above, you’ll find a healthy collection of podcasts that are a good fit for the classroom. Here are a couple of additional ideas:

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But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids
http://digital.vpr.net/programs/why-podcast-curious-kids#stream/0

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Brains On
https://www.brainson.org/

The Brains On website includes the science-themed Brains On podcast, as well as debate-format Smash Boom Best podcast, and the history-themed Forever Ago podcast.

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Wow in the World
https://tinkercast.com/shows/wow-in-the-world/

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This Podcast Has Fleas
https://www.wnycstudios.org/shows/fleas

Ryan Grinnell at Highbush PS recommends This Podcast Has Fleas for fiction-based podcasts.

Creating podcasts with Soundtrap

The best tool available to DDSB students and teachers for creating podcasts is Soundtrap. Soundtrap can be used on Chromebooks and Windows devices because it’s an audio creation tool that runs in a web browser.

There are two online on-demand professional learning courses for DDSB teachers to learn about Soundtrap. One of the courses — called Soundtrap: Pedagogy in Podcasting — focuses on podcasting (obviously), and the other focuses on digital music creation. You don’t have to complete the courses to get in and get using Soundtrap, but doing so will give you access to the teacher features that will allow you to create groups and assignments for better management of student work in the tool. If you’re a DDSB educator, you can access both courses on the Professional Learning page.

Know of any other valuable resources for bringing podcasts into the classroom? Please share them in the comment below or tweet me @ChrisTaylor_OCT and I’ll share them on Twitter.

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