We are excited to officially launch podcast lessons for elementary students! (Read the press release!) We’ve heard loud and clear the desire for audio in the elementary classroom as students are learning to read. These simpler stories will also help English language learners, as low as WIDA level 2, who use Listenwise to acquire language and access instructional content.
Why use podcasts with elementary students?
Listenwise has proven effectiveness in middle and high school, and now educators can find high-quality nonfiction audio content for lower grades. Podcasts offer engaging resources for teaching and assessing listening and speaking skills, and they can also help teachers and students address reading and writing standards. In addition to supporting literacy, podcasts offer students an appealing alternative medium for learning important curriculum content, especially helpful when teaching in diverse classrooms.
Jim Bentley, 5th grade teacher in California shared, in our recent webinar, how he uses podcasts to build listening skills in his classroom:
What makes a great podcast for elementary classrooms?
We’ve taken Listenwise’s success formula and applied it to carefully selected podcasts for our younger students. As always, we have curated stories that will grab students’ attention but use less complex language and vocabulary. In addition to using high-interest content from NPR, we have sourced stories from respected podcasts focused on a younger audience, including But Why, Earth Rangers, Tumble, and Book Club for Kids. The authenticity of these real-world stories has shown to be a big motivator for kids and can bring related curriculum topics to life!
Our short student-friendly podcasts differ from audiobooks because they are originally composed expressly for the purpose of listening and contain real-world interviews, ambient sound, and other elements that capitalize on the power of oral communication.
Check out our beta collection of elementary podcast lessons for grades 2-6. Here are some of our favorites focused on a variety of relevant curriculum topics:
- Animal Superpowers: Venom vs. poison – a showdown
- How Money Started: From trading food to the $20 bill
- The Story Behind Esperanza Rising: How the author’s grandmother inspired the novel
We are also injecting an extra bit of fun for our younger learners by introducing short “strange news” stories with a focus on understanding vocabulary in context. These 30-second stories with highlighted vocabulary can work well as quick “do now” or “bell ringer” activities. Examples include “Penny Pyramid” and “Dog for Governor.”
We will be continuing to build out our collection for elementary students each week, including some current events, and plan to have a large collection ready by the fall.
What is in the elementary lessons?
Our elementary lessons feature the same elements as the rest of our Listenwise lessons, written at the appropriate level for elementary students.
- Listening comprehension and discussion questions,
- Vocabulary lists,
- Interactive transcripts,
- Auto-scored listening comprehension quizzes,
- Teacher’s guide with instructional activities before, during, and after listening and additional vetted materials, such as paired texts.
- Graphic organizers to focus listening,
- And more!
Elementary lessons have been designed for optimal flexibility in classrooms with any computer configuration, from one-computer classrooms to one-to-one classrooms. They can be used with the whole class at once, in a station-rotation model, or with students working independently on their own computers. Materials such as listening organizers are designed to be either printed or used online. Lessons and quizzes can be assigned through Google Classroom, and quiz data can be tracked through a data dashboard.
To learn how one teacher uses podcast lessons in her elementary classroom, read our December blog post post featuring 4th grade teacher, Gretchen Hummon.
Try the lessons with your students!
Now it’s time to explore the beta collection of elementary lessons and current events!
If you are interested in starting a school site pilot subscription to our beta collection, fill out this form.