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Top 10 Podcasts to Include in Homework Assignments

As much as we've philosophized about changing traditional homework practices, it never seems to happen. But even though we're still stuck with it, there are ways to modernize and incentivize students to participate in it. One of those ways is podcasts. 

While podcasts may be reminiscent of days filled with radio narrated baseball games, they are a well-loved product of this generation. A perfectly placed podcast can quickly turn homework from chore to leisure. Here are the top 10 podcasts to include in homework assignments.

1. Revisionist History

History is not all that it seems. "Revisionist History" takes historical events we think we know and turns them on their head. This podcast teaches our students that the winners often write the stories, but there is always more to the story. This podcast shows that we often need to critique the lens from which our history is taught; the truth is deeper than it appears.

2. Encyclopedia Womannica

Taking prominent women in history and turning them into ten-minute or less snippets isn't a small feat, but "Encyclopedia Womannica" does it with grace. This bite-sized history lesson is perfect for introducing notable women figures to younger students for the first time. It also serves as a jumping-off point for further research. However, our hosts give an honest account of these women's lives, so you may want to screen each episode first.

3. Hidden Brain

Taking current events and combining them with human behavior, "Hidden Brain" shows how we affect the world around us. It is a wonderfully intimate portrait of our actions, the reasons for those actions, and the consequences we face as a result. "Hidden Brain" gives students a look at others and themselves. 

This is perhaps one of the most important podcasts out there for upcoming generations. With it, they can assess the damage of those who came before them, and how they can affect the future.

4. But Why? A podcast for kids

This kid-centric podcast not only caters to children but involves them in the episodes! Each bite-sized episode features a question from a young listener and is answered in a kid-friendly way. Many of these answers don't come from experts, however. Many come from children themselves. What better way to involve students in learning than to use their peers as a resource? Not only does this engage our younger students, sharing common curiosities creates a source and sense of community.

5. Overheard at National Geographic

Featuring current events in science and ecology, this podcast brings you along on adventures with the staff of National Geographic. Whether the topic of the week is melting ice caps, cheetah smugglers, or searching for rare species, "Overheard" has something for everyone. Science and knowledge expand rapidly these days, and "Overheard" makes it their mission to share the latest and greatest in adventures, discoveries, and wildlife protection with audiences everywhere.

6. Science Rules! With Bill Nye

If you grew up watching TV in the '90s, you know who Bill Nye is. Bringing joy and chaotic, good energy to students, Bill Nye energized a generation. Today, he hosts a podcast with the same drive and goals. Bringing science to the masses, debunking myths, and honest analysis of the interactions of science and politics, Bill Nye yet again works magic in "Science Rules!"

7. LeVar Burton Reads

Many of us know LeVar Burton for his days on the award-winning educational program "Reading Rainbow" (PBS, 1983-2009). LeVar Burton quickly became a staple in American households and brought a love of reading and storytelling to a generation of children. 

It isn't surprising then to know that Burton would make his return in a more modern format, still promoting reading. In this podcast, Burton reads the latest and greatest in short fiction, bringing our favorite classroom show into our teen and adult years. Perfect for bringing book reports to the modern age, "LeVar Burton Reads" is the best podcast for middle and high school English classes.

8. Ted Radio Hour

Many of us may be familiar with TED Talks or perhaps even use them as teaching tools already. Each as individual as the person giving them, TED talks touch on science, mathematics, education, and humanity. 

"TED Radio Hour" brings together several talks and discusses the similarities and differences. Breaking several talks into smaller pieces and using them to tell a story about a larger picture, "TED Radio Hour" makes topics that can be information-heavy. 

Ideal for middle and high school-aged students, the variety of topics covered would make "Ted Radio Hour" possibly the most versatile podcast in the classroom.

9. This American Life

Created by NPR, this podcast is an intimate portrait of life in America. Showcasing three tales per episode, "This American Life" brings you into the nitty-gritty of American society. Tales of excellence, struggle, resilience, and hope define the show and allows our students to see that what happens in our government truly affects our daily lives. 

This personal view into the wide spectrum of what it means to be American, "This American Life," will teach students how to see the cause and effect of our political systems on a personal level. While each episode needs auditing, this podcast is best suitable for middle and high school-aged students. 

10. Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People

The premise of this podcast is "one phone call, one hour, no holds barred." And it holds to that. Featuring host Chris Gethard, a comedian who built his career in the underground punk scene of New York City, this podcast features hour-long stories told by anonymous callers. Although many are from the United States, these callers reside globally and tell intimate tales of heartache, hope, and hilarity. 

While these stories are each in need of auditing before sharing with students, this Library of Congress archived podcast serves as a unique and intimate portrait of humanity and current events. High school-aged students can study politics, sociology, psychology, and more in this wonderfully beautiful look at the human spirit.


Written by Amber White

Education World Contributor

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