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152: 5 Class Podcast Projects for ELA

Podcasting projects can feel a bit intimidating, I get that. How will students record? Where will they put their podcasts for you to listen to? Speaking of which, how will you listen to them all? What if they want to publish them – how can you guide them to use royalty-free music and navigate privacy issues?

But here’s the thing, it’s a lot easier than it seems once you dive in, and the opportunity for engagement and relevancy in students’ lives makes it so worth it! You can target just about any ELA skills you wish with a podcasting project, and open your students’ eyes to a whole new medium.

Have you read NCTE’s recent position statement on Media Education in ELA? Podcasting shines in its pages!

Today on the podcast, I’m going to share five ideas for podcasting projects with you. I hope they’ll get you thinking about the many ways to integrate this option into your classes. And guess what? Next month I’ll be hosting a fun and free online PD, Camp Creative, with your roadmap to student podcasting. So if you get excited about these projects, but you’d like some help with all the details, just sign up below to join us June 13-15. Each day’s tips, tricks, and curriculum will be delivered straight to your inbox, easy peasie.

And now, on to today’s show. You can listen in below, or click here to tune in on any podcast player you prefer. Or, read on for the full post.

Alright, ready to dive in? These project ideas are the tip of the iceberg. Oh wait, that’s a bit negative I suppose. These projects ideas are just one frosting rose on the cake! There are SOOO many ways you could integrate creative podcasting into your classes.

A Travel Podcast

The other day I was talking to my friend about how little information is out there for travelers to my current home here in Bratislava. We talked about starting an Instagram feed or a blog to help others. But what I was really looking for, back before I moved here, was a podcast. A podcast to tell me where to eat, where to play, where to park, where to get my hair cut, where to go swimming and skiing and out for coffee.

Perhaps your students could provide this type of podcast for newcomers to your area? There are a lot of ways to spin this. You could have them create a welcome to the city podcast that would be shared with new students and families at your school. You could have them create episodes about your city that would eventually go fully public, if you can get permission from your district. You could have them create episodes as a resource for all students at the school, that could be shared through QR code posters in the library.

For this project, I suggest the class choose a name, theme music, and cover art together. Then every student can sign up for an episode for season one. For example, a student might want to cover the best live music venues in your city. They can write “episode 1 – Live Music Venues” on the sign-up sheet. The next student can write “episode 2 – Best Cheeseburgers in Portland,” etc.

Once you’ve got the initial details set up, students can get to researching, writing, and recording their episodes. Whether you host them in Google slides or on a free platform like Anchor, you’ll end up with a full season of shows about your city with an authentic audience. Your current students will create season one, and next year’s will create season two. You get the idea! You’ll build a valuable resource for your community with your students.

A Research Podcast

If you’re looking for a way to make research feel more relevant to students, a podcast is a great option! (So are infographics and carousels, by the way). Whether you’d like to give students free range to cover anything, or you’re looking to create a set of shows together on a specific topic, a podcast is a solid way for students to present their findings.

Let’s look at a few examples.

Maybe you’d like to combine research and storytelling in an environmental podcast project. Students will research an environmental issue of their choice and use the design thinking process to come up with a solution idea. They’ll start their podcast with a story about how the issue is impacting someone, something, or some place. Then they’ll move into the research, explaining what they found and why it matters. Finally they’ll present their solution.

Maybe you’re coming up on a social justice unit, and you’d like students to explore the civil rights movement through research podcasts. In small groups, they’ll each choose a figure to focus on and tell their story through a podcast. Then your class will have a listening day and vote on awards in various categories for the podcasts – the best storytelling, the clearest facts, the best use of music and transitions, the most powerful message, etc.

There are so many ways you could structure a project like this, including whatever skills you want students to practice and topics you want them to learn about.

A Grammar Podcast

When I taught in Bulgaria, I would sometimes play episodes of the “Grammar Girl Podcast” for my students to help them understand issues that were often coming up with their language use. The Grammar Girl had episodes explaining so many common mistakes and how to fix them.

What if you had this type of resource for your students, created BY your students? How cool would that be?

Each student (or pair of students) could choose a grammatical issue that they’ve struggled with, then learn exactly how to master it and teach it to others through a short podcast episode. Then you could house all the episodes through a linked page that would become a resource at your school for all students to access. Your students could create QR code posters going to the linked list to put up in English classrooms and the library, and you could also share the page with parents when you’re giving them additional resources to help their students thrive.

A Vocabulary Podcast

I bet you can guess what I’m going to suggest here. Take a listen with your students to Merriam-Webster’s “Word of the Day” podcast (which is a cool resource!). Then challenge them to come up with a more fun, student-friendly version. Let them think about how to make a word memorable, how to provide an example that students would find interesting, perhaps how to incorporate some humor, music, or even guest voices into their show. Challenge them to create mini episodes with three or four related words, episodes teachers could play in class or students could listen to in order to build their vocabularies.

Again, consider how to build in an authentic audience. Using them in your class to help build student vocabulary is one great option, but if you can get the right permissions, putting them out into the wider world could be genuinely helpful to other kids. Perhaps you could even make the vocabulary podcast a school-wide or district-wide project and create a show with hundreds of episodes to help students learn vocabulary.

A Book Talk Podcast

Is your choice reading program ready for a new layer? Perhaps a book talk podcast? For this project, I’d suggest that you work with your class to create a podcast cover and intro that every episode will use. Then you can invite students to create book talk episodes about their choice reading books at the end of a term. You’d probably want to do it together the first time around, so you can guide students through the process. But then you could invite everyone to contribute episodes once per term if your program is ongoing, or maybe do one more round at the end of the year. You can make the episodes available to all your readers, and add more from year to year. You can play the student book talks in class, share them for your student readers to access anytime, and maybe even share them across the school (or district, or world, depending on your permissions).

OK, are you seeing the many possibilities? Isn’t it exciting? Podcasting can engage your students and get them using their ELA skills in a new and relevant way.

Don’t forget to sign up for this summer’s Camp Creative PD session, with your roadmap to student podcasting. You’ll come away feeling confident in your ability to run projects like these!

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I'm Betsy

I’ll help you find the creative ELA strategies that will light up your classroom. Get ready for joyful teaching!

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