Engaging Students in Podcasting

Nicole Mathew
Curriculum Specialist
News on November 02 2021

Podcasts can transport the listener to new places and teach us things we may have never thought before! Many of us have our favorites that we tune into each week for entertainment, education, news, and more. Perhaps you’ve had students listen to podcasts as part of research or building background knowledge. Have you ever thought about having students plan and record their own podcasts to share with others? 

Podcasts can be a great way to engage students in the storytelling process, whether it is in the ELA, social studies, math, art, or science classroom! As educators, we know that whether students are writing a narrative or communicating their lab results, they are telling a story. Storytelling is a useful and versatile task for students to take on, but what are the benefits of having students deliver information via a podcast rather than an essay, report, or slideshow?

 

Why podcasts: the benefits

Having students share their writing in a podcast format helps them practice important 21st century skills and develop their presentation abilities at the same time. Because students are not presenting their podcasts live in front of others, those who are shy or timid may feel more comfortable sharing since they are not front and center. Podcasts are also great for collaborative projects as students can work together to plan, record, and edit. A lot of teamwork often goes into creating popular podcasts! Further, having a platform on which to share their thoughts can help students take ownership of their learning and be proud of the work they create. While proper planning is still important, podcasting may engage students who are disinterested in essay writing or those who enjoy technology-infused lessons. This format can also be a powerful tool for English language learners to practice speaking in addition to writing. These are just some of the many benefits of having students create their own podcasts. Once you’ve decided that you want to try incorporating podcasts into your classroom, how do you get started?

Getting started with podcasting

First, you’re going to need to identify the task and/or topic. Are students interviewing a civilian during the civil war? Are they describing the results of a scientific study? Will they be persuading listeners of the benefits to limiting screen time before bed? Having a solidified theme is critical for guiding the content of the podcast. Students can also be given freedom of choice in terms of the specific topic. For example, you might choose to have the assignment be to create a podcast about the effects of WW2 on civilians, but allow students to determine if they want to conduct an interview with a “civilian”, broadcast news as a reporter, or do an autobiographical podcast from the perspective of a soldier.

Second, identify the recording software that students will use and help them get familiar with using it before they go to record their official podcast. Some of our favorites include Audacity, Soundtrap, and Garageband (Apple only), which all allow students to record both audio and music tracks, as well as select from pre-made sound loops. Once you have identified your program and topic, students can begin building their podcasts.

Structure of a podcast

It may be a good idea to provide some guidelines or a general structure to help your students organize. Podcasts typically have:

  • theme music that opens the session
  • an introduction to the episode
  • the main podcast content
  • closing remarks
  • a reprise of the theme music

As students plan out their own podcasts, consider having them listen to examples to see how others introduce these components and use music/sound effects for transitions between segments and even subtopics. After all the planning and writing has taken place, peer review/revision should be included to refine and improve the script. When the script and episode plan has been completed, students should rehearse before recording to make the creation process smoother. This can help them plan out natural pauses in their speaking, like they are having a conversation rather than giving a performance. Then, it’s time to record any music and audio, edit, and publish the recorded podcast! Encourage students to have others listen to their recording before publishing and sharing.

Publishing a podcast

Podcasts can be published to a secure class/school website, a shared digital drive, or even to a public platform like SoundCloud, iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play. To share via more traditional means like a bulletin board display, consider creating a QR code that links to the file. For more information, check out the OTIS course, QR Codes in the Classroom. Listening parties or digital gallery walks can also be a fantastic way for students to experience each other’s work and celebrate their success. Once students start planning and producing their own podcasts, you’ll be amazed with what they come up with!

 


For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.


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