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  • Writer's pictureScott Cameron

How to Teach or Assign a Podcast

High school English teachers focus on traditional literature – essays, short stories, plays, novels, and poems.  It’s important to focus on words because they are the foundation of our knowledge and an essential way to understand reality.  However, modern media has expanded our definition of literature to include movies, short films, video essays, graphic novels, and podcasts.  Podcasts don’t distract the audience with short video clips, flashing images, or the theatrics of public speaking.  Podcasts promote a very simple, yet important life skill:  listening.  They also help students understand tone, the emotion behind the speaker. 

 

After my podcast unit where students listen to and discuss podcasts, they create their own.  They can choose a structure which I list below, and I encourage them to use familiar techniques they know from reading essays and fiction. 


4 Structures:

 

Independent host

Students work on their own to explore a topic of choice.  This resembles an essay where they are the only speaker, even though they may quote other sources. 

 

One interviewee

For this format, students usually pick a family member, a friend, or perhaps someone they work with that has something interesting to say on a topic or interesting life experiences. 

 

Small or large group conversation

Many students pick this option because they can work with a friend to simply answer a question or discuss the topic.  I’ve had students discuss complicated Netflix series or relevant topics like education or technology. 

 

Multiple interviewees

For this type of podcast, students can interview many people and edit their recordings using audio or video editing software which now comes preloaded on many phones. 

 

Techniques:

 

Introduction

Just like in a traditional essay, students should introduce their topic or the person they will interview.  They could give their podcast a title, even though I don’t encourage them to publish it online. 

 

Narration, description, exposition, argument

Students could employ any of the four essay modes or a combination or mixing of the discourses. 

 

Allusions and cultural connections

Many podcasts contain a clip from a movie or a quote from a politician to support an argument or prove a point.   One year, my students interviewed people about their favorite song and then played a clip of the song in the background. 

 

Evidence

Some topics require statistics or findings from research.  A student might want to quote an article online or talk about a historical event. 

 

Colloquialisms

I love podcasts mostly because they contain the authentic voice of the speaker.  People sound just like they do in real life.  That voice can sometimes be lost in writing and fiction.  I encourage my students to be themselves and be spontaneous with how they express their thoughts. 

 

Figurative language

Any type of literary technique, not just figurative language, always entertains and helps illuminate the truth.  Students should consider using metaphors, similes, symbols, and sensory images. 

 

Conclusion or call to action

At the end of the podcast, students can wrap it up with a call to action concerning what should happen or how people should think about the topic in the future. 


Teacher's Workshop, professional development for secondary ELA teachers



teaching podcasting

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