Five Tips For Teaching A Podcast

TeacherVision Advisory Board Member, Sara, shares her tips for how to teach podcasts in the classroom. We also include some of our favorite tools and apps.

tips for using podcasts in the classroom

Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular in the classroom. They provide an alternative to the whole class novel, and they support students to develop listening skills. There are some incredible curriculum tools to bring podcasts into the classroom. We recommend, Listenwise, an online library of podcasts and news stories that students can listen to. They also have a well-developed curriculum with quizzes and comprehension exercises. Here are five tips for how to effectively use and teach podcasts in your classroom.

Find a podcast that is appropriate for student audiences

Many simple Google searches can lead you to an engaging and appropriate podcast for your students based on their maturity levels and capabilities. For example, the “Serial” Podcast, Season 1, is perfect as a 3-4 week unit for students at the end of the school year as it intentionally describes a scenario for students that they have either experienced, could experience in their lifetime, or know of someone who has experienced what happened to one of the main focal people within the podcast. Student interest level should be the main priority for you as a curriculum/content enhancer while tying that interest to state/local district standards at the forefront of your planning.

Intentionally plan for all-student success

Within your selected podcast, treat each episode as a learning opportunity for all students. Align state/local district standards to the selected podcast and work backwards to determine what students should be able to know and do by the end of the learning session(s) and how will they illustrate their proficiency/knowledge (think formative/summative assessment!). Remember: we want all of our students to grow throughout this experience, so finding engaging activities for students to experience throughout each learning session is key.

Don’t be overwhelmed in having to teach “every episode”

If you are intentionally planning (see tip #2), you should have little difficulty with picking and choosing the most action-packed or important aspects of each episode within the podcast. Pre-work for teachers should include listening to the episodes that you will be teaching throughout the week and selecting time frames where you want to spend the majority of instruction. If there are places within each episode that are unnecessary to the understanding of the message / ideas, cut them out! Plan where you want to start and stop each episode to positively impact instruction and student learning.

Review, Review, and Review some more!

After each episode and before you begin a subsequent one, review content with your students and have a running document of important events, details, quotes, and conflicts/issues that are illustrated throughout each episode. This running document can be used as a modification to classroom instruction for struggling students or for absent students who may miss an episode. This document can be shared via Google Classroom and updated as each episode comes to a close and is a great way for students to add their own spin to illustrating important details and order of events… allow them to add to this document! Show them the importance of taking ownership of what they know and how they show what they know throughout this process.

Creatively Assess Student Knowledge through Differentiated Assessments

It is crucial to pre-plan any episode quiz, formative assessment, or unit (summative) assessment before the actual teaching of the podcast occurs. This will help you as a professional educator to instruct students on what they need to know and how they need to illustrate their knowledge. For example, for each episode, break up the types of formative assessments you craft for your students: journal entries, Quizizz/Kahoot games, “word bank” summaries, 10-word summaries, Image Illustrations - these are all great ways to assess student knowledge and will not bog students down with the same type of assessments. Create a summative assessment that may include topical/thematically-aligned research, “text”-dependent analysis questions, short-answer prompts, or constructed response essays.

For additional resources on podcasts check out: The Five Best Podcasts That Teachers Love and How To Start Your Own Teacher Podcast.

Sara Willey is a seven-year veteran teacher and administrator from Clarksville, Tennessee. She has taught in Title I schools her entire tenure as a professional and she has a heart for working with disadvantaged and underserved student populations. She has experience teaching English at the high school level and before she became an administrator, being in the classroom was her ultimate passion and where I felt the most comfortable. When she isn't teaching, she enjoys cooking and home decorating, reading, exercising, and napping.

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