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How Teachers Are Refreshing Learning With Podcasts

How Teachers Are Refreshing Learning with Podcasts

Teachers across the country are being inspired by the sweeping success of the Serial podcast, which is now in its second season.

For those unfamiliar, a podcast is a digital audio file that is typically available to subscribers as a series of new installments.

The Serial podcast, specifically, is a series that uses investigative journalism to tell the story behind a complex nonfiction event.

In the first season, it discussed the murder of Hae Min Lee and the trial of her ex-boyfriend for the crime. In season 2, it looks at the case of Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who had been held in captivity by the Taliban for five years after abandoning his post and is now to face a court-martial on charges of desertion.

Serial has become a phenomenon, breaking all records for most-downloaded podcast and in turn bringing popularity to the podcast as a learning tool.

In fact, many people taking notice of the usefulness of the podcast are teachers, who have been using the tool to deepen and refresh student learning.

For example, "Nancy Branom, an English teacher at Edmonds-Woodway High School in Washington, recently had her writer's workshop class make podcasts,” said U.S. News, to bring new life to the traditional research project.

“Just like a paper, a podcast needs a beginning, middle and end, Branom says. 'You have to have a hook and an introduction with context. You have to introduce your interviews and you have to be able to decide, well,​ what chunk of this interview I'm going to take so it makes sense –​ kind of like evidence from a novel that you put in a paper.’”

Students picked from a relevant topic, like illegal immigration or transgender issues, the article said, and went from there.

Another teacher, Michael Godsey, uses the Serial podcast itself to teach students in his English classes.

According to Godsey, the podcast helped him engage students in lessons, which he found particularly important because he says engagement had been “delineated in the Common Core.”

Though he wasn't so sure about the benefit of using a podcast at first (he calls himself a "skeptical pioneer," after some extensive research, Godsey learned that listening comprehensive is very comparable to reading comprehensive.

One "study shows dramatic evidence that children who have been read to score higher on various comprehension tests, and started using longer, more complex, sentences to tell their own stories. They concluded: 'Time invested in listening to stories is time well spent,’” he said on his blog.

"It's awesome because I don't ‘make' them read. They have activities, lessons, and quizzes centered around the podcast, but they can look wherever they want. I'm intrigued by how many of them read along voluntarily, and a few of them even yelp out a ‘Hey!' when I forget to scroll down in time.”

To get ideas on how to follow Godsey’s lead, check out his blog here. 

Read the full story here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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