I love listening to podcasts. Podcasts are audio broadcasts that are recorded and either downloadable to a mobile device or streamable from a tablet, laptop or desktop computer. They are one of the most effective tools in my learning toolbox. Although lately I only listen to education related podcasts, there are thousands of podcasts out there to enhance learning on almost any topic.
Podcasts for Students?
What if we opened up this world of audio learning for our students? The increase of technology availability in (and out of) our classrooms creates an opportunity to expand students’ learning platforms. Consider including podcasts as a resource for students to explore for content information. Benefits include:
- exposure to a different medium for content delivery
- appeals to auditory (and kinesthetic) learners
- helps build listening and visualization skills
- pausable, rewindable, replayable content; students have control over delivery elements
- supports development of technology operation and concept skills
- fun, different and engaging way to expose students to content information
- extends learning beyond the school day
- allowing students to create their own podcasts opens a whole new set of possibilities for process and technology skill development
Create a Podcast Exploration
While I am no longer in the classroom, I approach most technology tools by considering how they would help achieve 3rd grade learning objectives. This was the last grade level I taught, and it is still very fresh in my mind. For podcasts, I would create a podcast exploration activity. This could be done with any upper elementary grades (3-5), and could be modified to meet the needs of younger or older learners.
The activity objectives would include:
- introduce students to the concept of podcasts
- listen to reading with fluency, prosody, expression
- identify fiction/non-fiction
- think critically about information delivered
- consider author’s purpose; possible bias; reliability of information
- evaluate quality including elements of effectiveness/non-effectiveness of delivery
- reflect on impact of medium on personal learning
Here are the steps I would take in a podcast exploration experience.
- Have a class discussion about what a podcast is, and listen to a podcast together as a class.
- Have students reflect on what they learned from the podcast.
- Guide students to identify elements of the podcast that made it informative/enjoyable.
- Provide students with a menu of pre-selected (by me) podcasts for them to explore independently or as a group. (Refer to the podcast embedded in this blog post for some recommended podcasts from the iTunes Store that you could use.)
- Options for making podcasts available:
- preload the podcasts on class mobile devices
- provide the list to parents and have students listen at home
- have students listen from the computer either in the classroom or your school library (coordinate with your campus librarian–what a fantastic collaboration opportunity!)
- Require students to listen to a minimum number of the podcasts from the menu. 3-5 is a good starting point depending on your students’ ages and ability levels. Allow students to choose from the menu.
- The podcast exploration timeframe can vary depending on availability of technology. If each student has a device this could be done in one day. Most likely students are having to share limited devices, so you might give them a week to listen to their podcast minimum.
- Require students to fill out a reflection form for each podcast. This could be in a journal or on a Google Form or on their classroom blog. It would include questions such as
- What is the podcast title; who is the “author”?
- Was it fiction or non-fiction? How did you know?
- What did you like about it? Or not? Or both?
- Would you change anything about it if you were able to?
- How did listening to this podcast affect your learning?
- Allow students to work independently or collaboratively as they choose and as fits the style of your classroom.
- After the exploration, have a class discussion about the podcast adventure and how they felt it impacted their learning.
Listen to this podcast to get ideas for podcasts you might want to include in a podcast exploration menu. The list of podcast names is included below.
Coffee Break German (Spanish/French)
If the podcast exploration goes well, you may decide to make more podcast resources available to students on a regular basis.
Involve parents, and encourage them to work with their kids at home to find and download interesting, kid-friendly podcasts to extend learning beyond the school day.
Your students may want to create their own podcasts to showcase their learning or creativity. Awesome! Give them some tools and time to make that happen. This post contains some helpful information if your class decides to go this route.