Thursday, March 12, 2015

Using Podcasts for Classroom Content

Hearing the phrase 'podcasts in the classroom' probably causes you to think of creating podcasts at the end of a project.  This post is going to focus more on utilizing professionally created podcasts as the classroom content itself.   In general podcasts are gaining popularity and, in some instances, have gained wide spread appeal.  Much of this momentum comes from the recurring podcast series Serial.  According to this article from CNN Serial is the fastest podcast to be downloaded 5 million times and as of December 2014 had been downloaded more than 40 million times.

I am one of those who has been engrossed in this series about the murder of a Baltimore teen - Hae Min Lee -  in 1999 and the trial of her ex-boyfriend - Adnan Syed - who is convicted to life in prison.  While listening to the story I would catch myself wondering how I could use this in the classroom.

This recent article from Mind Shift takes a look at how English teachers have done just that.  Mr. Godsey, from California, has used the podcast as a centerpiece of his high school English classes with tenth and eleventh graders.  I thought there were some excellent points made regarding using podcasts in his classroom (and hopefully yours!) -

  • using podcasts requires students to listen critically
  • students reading below grade level can contribute to classroom discussions
  • English as a second language student benefit from listening to content
  • current events can create strong connections with students who can identify with the content
Using this particular podcast series as a basis for research, to debate the central questions of the case, and practice analyzing a complex task is an educationally challenging and rigorous endeavor.

If you cannot devote classroom time to an entire series consider using single episodes from other podcasts. Planet Money, whom I first had recommended from another educational technology colleague, Ben Rimes, is full of great content that would fit a variety of disciplines.  The episode describing how a store in Manhatten acquires roses for Valentine's Day was fascinating to me - and screams for an infographic to be created by students highlighting how this product was brought to market - to really answer the question of why roses cost $80 a dozen from this store on that particular day.

 Listen Current is a site I was unaware of before preparing this post.  It is a fantastic site to use public radio - often podcasts - in your classroom.  With many teachers 'flipping' their instruction, sites like this provide meaningful resources for delivering content outside of the classroom.  The authentic voices here are often powerful first-person accounts and they allow students to deeply connect with the material.

I hope you take the time to explore several of these sites and if you would like help using podcasts in your classroom please contact us at Berrien RESA!

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