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This blog post is in collaboration with Jeff Bradbury of TeacherCast. Read more on his blog.

How can you bring podcasting into your classroom? Start with selecting a purpose that aligns with your curriculum. Will students create podcasts that inform, persuade, analyze, reflect, tell a story, or some combination? Once you have defined a task, you can select the appropriate production format for your students’ podcasts. Will podcasts be commentary by a single speaker? Will they be interviews or conversations? Will they be investigative reports involving multiple perspectives on an issue or topic? 

Here are some easy podcast project ideas to help you get started:

  1. Book Reviews.  Podcasts offer a great way for students to talk about books they have read. Here is one example of a 10th grade English class podcasting in various styles for their book reviews

  1. Field Trip Reports. Wherever your class is traveling and whatever they are learning, they can podcast about it! Check out this great blog post about how one social studies class podcasted during their Washington D.C. monument tour, using guiding questions to focus student reports from the field. To hear a more professional example, listen to this high-quality NHPR radio field trip.

  2. News Stories. Engage your students in authentic journalism. KQED has some great samples so that your students can listen to high-quality finished projects before they create their own. Listen to this example from a youth reporter. 

  3. Interview a Community Member. Podcasting projects can explore family histories, job roles and responsibilities, or perspectives on current issues within the community. First, have students explore what makes a good interview and prepare well before recording in person. See these great tips from NPR.

  4. Personal Essays. This is a simple way to get your students comfortable speaking and recording with audio. After they write a personal essay, they can read it aloud in their own voice and submit the audio file as a podcast. 

  5. Audio Diaries. Students can reflect on a topic of personal interest via audio and send in their submissions to a google voicemail number that you set up (Here’s a quick how-to), or record via their smartphones and upload to a Google Drive folder. 

  6. Dramatic Read-Alouds. Teach your students how to deliver prose with expression and emphasize the important parts of stories. Dramatic readings of passages can build fluency and comprehension. Remember that the Iliad and the Odyssey were passed down orally, and Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be heard and seen. 

  7. Speeches. Students can practice oration in a low-stakes environment. Whether they write the speeches themselves or practice emulating famous speeches, audio recording can be less intimidating than speaking in front of an audience. It also allows students to listen to themselves, assess how they sound, and re-record themselves as many times as it takes to achieve their oratory goals.

These are just some ideas, and there are many more ways to integrate podcasting into the curriculum.

Whatever you decide, do not let technology hinder you from podcasting! All you need is an iPhone or laptop to record audio, and you can use a variety of tools to edit (e.g., Audacity, GarageBand, or SoundTrap.) Even if you are not fully comfortable with the technology, your students probably will be. 

If you would like to delve deeper into learning about podcasting in the classroom, see below for more resources. 

Are you interested in learning more about how you can integrate podcasting into your curriculum?

Listen to this TeacherCast podcast episode highlighting our CEO, Monica Brady-Myerov.  

You can also find more podcasting lesson ideas by listening to the Student Podcast PODCAST. No matter what grade you teach, your students can podcast. One upcoming episode features kindergarten podcasters!

Find other great resources to support your podcasting projects on the NYTimes Learning Network

If you are interested in professional development for classroom podcasting, learn more here and fill out this interest form to find out more about an online personalized 3-month PD module co-hosted by Listenwise and Soundtrap. 

Are you looking for some new ways to use Listenwise with your students this Fall? You’re in luck! We’ve put together some ideas to inspire your next listening activity. They have different instructional goals and involve varying levels of digital access, so there is something for everyone.

If you’re looking for more ideas, check out the Teacher Support Center and reach out to other Listenwise users on the Listenwise Educator Community Facebook group.


Week 1: Listen & Discuss Together

  1. Find 3 stories that students would find interesting and let the class choose which story to listen to together. Use this as a guide to find your listening style. You have the option to use the Teacher’s Guide tab on Lessons to support purposeful listening.  
  2. Use the story’s Comprehension Questions and Discussion Themes (under the “Assignment Resources” tab) to guide a classroom discussion.


Week 2: Quizzes

  1. Choose 1 story that has a quiz related to what you’re teaching (you can search by standards, too!) Don’t forget that many of our current events now have quizzes as well!
  2. Listen together once and have a discussion to check comprehension (questions under the “Assignment Resources” tab) 
  3. Have students listen on their own and take the quiz (with the option to use the interactive transcript, slower audio and texthelp toolbar)


Week 3: Debate Friday!

  1. Find a story from our weekly debate stories and listen together as a class
  2. Divide into “pro” and “con” teams and allow them to brainstorm and research evidence
  3. Hold a debate! Learn more about facilitating listening debates here.


Week 4: Current Events Homework

  1. Assign 2 current event stories for the week, create assignments for each, and assign them to students to complete independently. (*remember that every current event story posted on Wednesdays have quizzes!)
    OR
  2. Have students choose and listen to 4 current event stories independently during the week. Have students summarize each story using the 5 Ws, provide a writing prompt or have a class discussion about what they listened to.

This blog post was updated from August 2018.

The Listenwise team has been busy preparing for another successful year of listening, and we can’t wait to share what we’ve been up to with you. To make things easier, we’ve created a checklist of tasks for Listenwise Premium teachers to do before your students start listening. 

 

  Delete Old Classes: Clean up last year to make space for new students! From the Classes tab, click on the class name you want to remove, and click the red “Delete Class” at the bottom of the page. See the video below for step-by-step instructions.

 

   

Create New Classes: On the Classes tab, you can import your Google Classroom rosters or manually create each new class in Listenwise. Either way, it only takes a minute to set things up!  Check out this video tutorial for full details. 

If you use Google Classroom, we’ve created a Listenwise + Google Classroom Guide to give you step-by-step instructions for all of our integrations including Single Sign-On, Roster Import, and Assignment Sharing.

 

Enroll Students: We’ve posted a Getting Started as a Student page in our Teacher Support Center to make it easier to get students up and running. We have step-by-step instructions for students, depending on whether you imported Google Classroom rosters or manually created classes. 

    • We also have a 3-minute video that walks students through account sign-up to completing assignments. Send students to this link for a Listenwise introduction.

 

Discover New Content: We now have over 1,800 stories on Listenwise and over 300 quizzes! Here are some highlights among our recently added lessons:

 

Plan Listening Lessons: Think about your instructional goals for the year, and choose a few new ways to use Listenwise this year that align with those goals. Check out some integration strategy ideas for inspiration and use the Listenwise Lesson Planning Worksheet to prepare your lesson.

    • Don’t forget about our listening supports! We updated the Texthelp toolbar to make it easier for students to use in their assignments. It now appears as a blue toolbar at the top of the page, with the option that students can drag it around if needed. The functionality remains the same: students can highlight text and choose read-aloud, definitions, a picture dictionary, or Spanish translation. See the video below for a quick demo.

 

   

Explore our *UPDATED* Teacher Support Center: We have redesigned our Teacher Support Center, so it’s easier than ever to find the resources and inspiration you need to teach listening and critical thinking! We now have a Hot Topics section with a collection of resources on popular topics such as Media Literacy and Student Podcasting.

Summer is a great time for PD! While the sun is out, let’s dive into one of the hottest trending topics in education, PODCASTING! Here are some quick ideas.

If you have 5 minutes…

1. Watch the Soundtrap for Storytellers Crash Course from our partners at Soundtrap. This video is great for first time podcasters looking for the tools to get started.

If you have 10 minutes…

2. Listen to an episode of the Student Podcast PODCAST to hear examples of student podcasts, with reflections from their teachers on the project, hosted by former public radio reporter and Listenwise CEO, Monica Brady-Myerov. Tip: You can even do this one on the beach!

If you have 20 minutes…

3. Watch our webinar How to Teach and Assess Listening and learn how you can use podcasts to engage students and assess listening progress. 

If you have 30 minutes…

4. Download the Teacher’s Guide to Podcasting in the Classroom, with step-by-step guidelines for podcasting in class.

Teachers_Guide_to_Podcasting

5. Watch our 30 minute webinar Creating Podcasts in Class with K-12 administrator Mike Godsey. This webinar will show you how to create a podcast makerspace in your classroom.

For more in-depth podcasting professional development, we are offering a new PD opportunity in partnership with Soundtrap, delivered by experts in podcasting and public radio with flexible online sessions and personalized coaching for a teacher cohort. If you want to learn more or are interested, fill out this form.

Listening and Podcast Creation Tools for the Classroom

Learn how to use technology to better support your students as they build the skills they need for future success. Modern learners need to be able to think critically, collaborate effectively, communicate clearly, solve complex problems, and continue to learn independently throughout their lives. What better way to build all these skills, than through podcasting?

Podcasting can hit your learning objectives, increase student engagement, and easily be integrated into your instruction.

We are excited to share that we are offering a new Professional Development offering in partnership with Soundtrap.


Learn how to create thought-provoking podcasts with Soundtrap’s easy-to-use audio and podcast creation platform and our step-by-step professional development, delivered by experts in podcasting and public radio! With our guidance, teachers will design and implement their own student podcasting projects. Teachers will get 1:1 coaching from podcast experts, project lesson templates, instructional materials and assessment rubrics. Professional Development will also include three months of free access to Soundtrap and Listenwise.


P.S. Looking for more bite-sized PD options? Check out the Student Podcast PODCAST! You’ll hear directly from teachers who have done podcasts with their students, with examples of their students’ work.

As the school year winds down, we are looking ahead to our summer plans. Are you as well? If you have the bandwidth to think about it, now is a great time to reflect on what went well this year while it’s still fresh in your mind. The end of the year is a great time for reflection whether you are a teacher, student, staff, or administrator.

ISTE 2019 presentation

Here is a great document that educator Catlin Tucker created, “Things to Revamp for Next Year,” to help educators organize and reflect on the year and brainstorm new strategies, routines, and lesson and project ideas to build into their classroom practice next year.

Speaking of project ideas, if you haven’t already, you should consider podcasting with your students next school year!

We launched the Student Podcast PODCAST as a way to highlight student voices and provide easy tips and tricks to help educators start podcasting with their students or build on podcasting projects they have already tried in their classrooms. This podcast offers an easy summer listen, with each episode lasting around 10 minutes.

You can start by listening to one of our favorite episodes, highlighting how an ELA teacher incorporated the “Serial” podcast into his curriculum.

If you are headed to the ISTE conference, we have two speaking sessions on podcasting this year, and you can also catch us in the Startup Pavilion. Let’s chat podcasting, and *hint hint* we might be offering some project-based PD with an exciting partner! Stay tuned!

We hope to see you in Philly! If you can’t attend, we’ll be sure to share our session content on our social channels. Feel free to reach out to info@listenwise.com for these session slides after June if you can’t find them on our other channels. We are happy to share.

Have a great summer, and we hope you try podcasting as summer PD!

P.S  Here’s a quick podcast to listen to from educators, called Virtual Leadership Academy, “Summer is Coming! 3 Ways to Get the Most Out Of Summer As An Eduleader.”

One thing we consistently hear from teachers who use Listenwise is how much they like our current events. These stories, published every weekday during the school year, are focused on topics currently in the news. They cover recent events, such as the Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, seasonal topics such as the start of Ramadan, and updates to ongoing issues like Unrest in Venezuela. Listening to current event stories helps students connect to the world around them. They expose students to topics they might not otherwise encounter and can be used in different classroom settings and subject areas. For strategy ideas, check out our post on 5 Ways to Integrate Current Events into Instruction.

We also have weekly debate stories which are released each Friday, where students can dig into questions like, “Is encouraging people to speak only English unAmerican?” These topics can also be used as prompts for teaching written argument.

We love hearing from teachers about how they use current events in their classrooms. Read how educators are using Listenwise current events to engage their students in developing their listening comprehension and other literacy skills, while building their knowledge about important real world issues and events.

This website exposes students to current events and is great for bringing discussion into the classroom. I use this website for my advisory class. I also have them write a reflection to help improve their writing skills.

– High School Math Teacher in California

My students use it weekly and I find that it helps with their reading and writing skills overall. I use the current events because most of my students are not aware of the world and ongoing news and information.

– Middle School ELA and Social Studies Teacher in Massachusetts

I think it’s a great way for students to access filtered and appropriate current events. I love being able to search for articles that tie into the curriculum.

– Elementary School ELA and Social Studies Teacher in California

I believe every year students are getting progressively worse at listening comprehension. Also, I truly love all of the NPR/KCRW current events listening passages. Listenwise increases their scores in listening as well as informs them on so much that is going on in the world.

– Elementary School ELA and Social Studies, and Reading Teacher in California

We have found Listenwise to be one of the most accessible and engaging platforms offered to our students. Our teachers, who use numerous current event platforms, have commented on the more nuanced and critical view of the issues available for exploration in Listenwise.

– Middle School ELA and ESL Teacher in Georgia

I like the current events, and we write journals on a daily basis, so having updated news and topics is important and at the click of a button.

– High School Business/Career Planning Instructor in California

The program is an excellent way to practice listening skills as well as teach students to understand current events. Also, the lesson plans, scaffolding tools, and customizing features are user friendly and very accessible to my ELD students.

– Middle School ELA and ESL Teacher in California

Listenwise is perfect for helping our students with their close listening skills. I love the availability of current events and easily accessible quizzes. There is a large variety of content and many high-interest topics, as well as topics that fit directly with my curriculum.

– Middle SChool ELA and Social Studies Teacher in Wisconsin


This post is part of our series on App Smashing with Listenwise.

We interviewed two of our Listenwise Advocates about how they use CommonLit with Listenwise to meet their teaching goals. Many teachers have found that the short, interactive texts on the CommonLit platform pair especially well with Listenwise audio stories, and the instructional supports on both platforms are pedagogically consistent and compatible.  

 

Carolyn Brown is a Middle School English Language Arts Teacher at Vista Heritage Global Academy, a charter school in Santa Ana, California. She says,

Listenwise and CommonLit have very similar visual styles, so students perceive them as being similar. They both give short texts that students need to analyze. The texts are already curated and have pre-written high-quality questions. Many of the topics even overlap well.”

As a teacher at a Global Academy, Carolyn’s teaching goals are aligned with the four Domains of Global Competency defined by the International Studies Schools Network: Investigate the World, Recognize Perspectives, Communicate Ideas, and Take Action. She finds that using Listenwise together with CommonLit is an especially good way to help students ‘Recognize Perspectives.’

For example, when teaching the attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent imprisonment of Japanese-Americans, Carolyn explained,

I wanted students to understand the point of view of Japanese-Americans in WWII internment camps, but also understand the fear that drove the US government to deny them their rights.”

She started by showing her students footage from the attack on Pearl Harbor, and had them listen to a Listenwise story from the perspective of a veteran who was at Pearl Harbor. They also read some of the contemporary government reports and opinion pieces about Japanese-American loyalty. Then, she asked her students to think of solutions.

“Someone invariably suggests moving Japanese-Americans away from other Americans. That’s when we dive into Japanese-American internment camps.”

To explore the perspective of Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned for the duration of WWII, Carolyn’s students listened to The Creative Art of Coping in Japanese Internment, a story about imprisoned Japanese-Americans who used art to cope with their circumstances. They then turned to CommonLit to read George Takei’s TED Talk about his experiences living in a Japanese internment camp as a child. His talk is titled “Why I Love a Country That Once Betrayed Me”.

For both the Listenwise and CommonLit lessons, the class worked through the discussion questions associated with each lesson.

“We talk and write about how otherwise reasonable people can be driven by fear to do unreasonable things, and how those who are treated unfairly can be resilient.”

Carolyn says this inevitably prompts a discussion about about people who are treated unfairly in America today.

“The very best moment in the mini-unit is always when that first student slaps his or her forehead and exclaims, ‘But it’s like how people are afraid of Muslims and try to keep them out!’  A lively discussion then ensues in which students discuss their own fears, politicians’ fears, and the nature of American-ness. I just stand back and watch the whole process flow organically.”

 

In Dr. Scott Petri’s high school history class, Scott uses Listenwise and CommonLit to build the knowledge base they need to engage in authentic project based learning (PBL). Scott teaches at John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills, California, a medical magnet academy for gifted and high achieving students.

Scott’s class is set up to allow students flexibility in the types of resources they use to meet California’s content standards for history. Scott uses a playlist approach to helping his students improve their understanding of the California state history content standards. He explains that,

“Listenwise and CommonLit offer supplemental, shorter activities that students can do in class or for homework assignments while building the knowledge base they need” to complete their projects.

Because both Listenwise and CommonLit have auto-scored assessments associated with each lesson, Scott uses both resources to assess his students’ knowledge and identify gaps. He says,

“Listenwise and CommonLit stories become convenient formative assessments that let me know where I need to fill in learning deficits and help me differentiate instruction.”

Currently, Scott’s students are reading Hellhound on His Trail, a non-fiction thriller by Hampton Sides about the FBI manhunt for MLK’s killer.

“In order to address some knowledge gaps, I have assigned students several CommonLit close reads from their Civil Rights Movement text set, as well as Listenwise stories on James Baldwin and Comparing Black Lives Matter to the Civil Rights Movement. These activities expand the scope of my class and show students that the skills they practice in one class help them understand the content in another.”

Scott believes that breaking down the silos between content areas helps students make interdisciplinary connections, and that teachers can facilitate this process by coordinating with their colleagues.

“In order to support this history unit, my ELA colleagues had our shared students analyze the rhetoric in MLK’s Birmingham Jail letter and deconstruct the historical references in Jesse Williams BET Humanitarian speech. The result was a deeper learning experience that spiraled multiple content standards and tapped into culturally relevant pedagogy to increase student understanding of the Civil Rights Movement.”

Scott finds Listenwise and CommonLit to be great complementary resources to facilitate this type of interdisciplinary learning.

“I believe Listenwise and CommonLit have helped me better support my students in reading and understanding college-level historical non-fiction.”

 

Today, we highlight an innovative podcasting lesson from Erik Eve’s 8th grade social studies class in Lindenhurst, NY, featuring their explorations of historic Washington D.C sites and reflections on their field trip experience.

For this project, Erik used podcasting as a medium to inspire student engagement and deepen learning, with the only requirement being that his students record audio about one of the D.C sites they visited. This blog post showcases an example of how students, equipped with a smartphone free voice recorder app, can deepen and document their learning experiences using the power of audio.

 

Setting up the Podcast Lesson

 

Erik’s field trip podcasting instructions were open-ended and allowed for a lot of student choice regarding who they worked with and what site they wanted to feature in their podcast. Students were given guiding questions to suggest a structure for the recording of factual information about the historic sites they were visiting, and for s their impressions of the experience. Students could reflect individually and/or interview other students about their reactions.

Listen to Erik Eve reflect on how his students responded to the assignment with excitement about collaborating and about exercising their creativity.  

 

Here are some sample guiding questions for the audio reflections & interviews:

Informational framing questions:

What is the historic site?  

When and why was it built?

What can visitors to the site expect to experience and/or learn?

Interview question ideas:

What is your impression of the site?

What’s one interesting thing you learned from your visit?

What would you recommend that other visitors make sure to notice?

 

D.C. Field Trip Audio Podcasts

 

Listen to hear some samples of students’ podcasts about the different Washington DC sites they visited, including Arlington Cemetery, Mt. Vernon, the Lincoln Memorial, Ford’s Theater, the U.S. Capitol, and the Vietnam Memorial:

Arlington Cemetery & Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

 

George Washington’s House in Mt Vernon

 

Ford’s Theater

 

The Peterson House – Where Abraham Lincoln Passed Away

 

The U.S. Capitol Building

 

Student Reflections & Podcasting Tips

 

Not only did the class podcast during the trip, but Erik went a step further and had his students grade themselves afterwards and reflect on the podcasting project and process and the trip as a whole. Listen to some of these reflections below.

Brooke reflects on her learning experience and offers some future tips, one of which is to make the podcast while you are at the site:

 

Vanessa says she loved podcasting, and it helped her deepen her learning while on the field trip:

 

Lauren loved the collaborative aspect of podcasting and shared how it helped her to be  more attentive on the field trip:

 

Jessica enjoyed listening to the class podcasts after the field trip to hear the different perspectives of her classmates on the same trip experience:

 

Thank you to Erik and his students for sharing with us!

 

 

Looking for more podcasting ideas? Download our Teacher’s Guide to Podcasting. To listen to another one of Erik’s podcasting lessons (his first ever classroom podcasting project) listen to episode 2 of the newly released Student Podcast PODCAST.

Podcasting Popularity is Increasing


When I started Listenwise 6 years ago, only a handful of teachers were having  their students show what they know with podcasts. Today, it’s much more common for teachers to tell me that they have tried a podcasting project or would like to try it with their students.

This increased amount of student podcasting corresponds with a huge increase in people listening to podcasts. More than half the people in the United States have listened to one, and nearly one out of three people listen to at least one podcast every month.

NPR’s Student Podcast contest garnered 6,000 entries earlier this year. 6,000! That shows an incredible amount of creativity, self-learning, and gumption around a medium that’s still very new to teaching.

And it means there are thousands of you out there making podcasts with your students but with almost no way to share what they’ve produced, what you’ve learned and what you’d like to share with other teachers eager to try this medium.

Now there is!

 

The Student Podcast PODCAST

 

We are excited to announce the Student Podcast PODCAST.

Our new podcast highlights student podcasts created as part of classroom work. The subject matter is diverse, with  podcasts about hurricane recovery, math, self-discovery, immigration, and more. There’s no subject that wouldn’t make a good podcast!

 

I am taking my 20 years of experience as a public radio reporter and producer and listening to these students podcasts, talking with the teachers who facilitated and asking them to share how they did it.  And I’m adding my commentary on what are the best ways to make an NPR-style podcast, what’s the best voice recording and editing software to use and how to structure a podcast project. All so that you can learn how to make podcasts in your class.

The Student Podcast PODCAST will demystify the podcasting process, giving you actionable tips and tricks. And we hope it will inspire you to try it with your students.

We are keeping each episode short, under 10 minutes, so that you can quickly acquire ways to get a podcasting lesson started in your class and explore new lesson ideas.

 

Whether you have never tried podcasting or are a podcasting pro with your class, you can find interesting content and new podcasting ideas in the show! Subscribe, listen and review the show on iTunes or Spotify

 

Submit Your Student Podcasting Lessons

 

If you are already podcasting with you students, you might be interested in submitting a student podcast for inclusion in a future episode. Whether it’s a full class project, or individual student work, we want to hear it! Complete this short submission form so we can learn more about your student podcast project.

 

 

Other Podcasting Resources

 

If you are looking for more podcasting project ideas and tools to get started, you can download our teachers guide to podcasting in the classroom.

We are so excited to get started sharing all the great podcasting students are doing across the country!