Literary Podcast Unit and Podcast Project
It’s fun to end the year with a project that students will remember. Instead of a traditional final, there are a lot of ways that students can reflect on what they learned throughout the year, including graphics, video essays, and podcasts. Instead of more literary analysis, students are ready to embark on their own storytelling adventures. In my podcast unit, I select my favorite podcasts and have open ended conversations on a variety of topics.
I will usually focus on one topic throughout the year anytime we study nonfiction, like love or creativity. This year I will focus on indivisibility (“Project Indivisible”) and the ways people can connect to each other, the things that bring people together, or the ideas that link us. This might be sports, spirituality, television, school, technology, travel, work, and yes, even politics.
While they listen, students take guided notes or can create a mind map or sketchnotes. This helps them understand the structure and logic of the podcast, and how it moves from one idea to the next, an important model for any essay they write. It teaches them to listen for a long period of time and think about the speaker’s approach: storytelling, personal response, interpretation of evidence, persuasion, interviews, description, exposition, philosophy, satire, or figurative language. Podcasts can be a fun, spontaneous conversation or very deliberate and poetic. They exist somewhere between the body language of movies and the text of literature.
At the end of the unit, students make their own podcast on a topic of choice. This is a great opportunity for students to bring their love of science, technology, or sports into our conversations about life, experiences, and relationships. They can have a deep conversation with their classmates, friends outside the class, their family, or family friends that have life experiences different from their own. Students plan and brainstorm just like a regular essay, but it works as a welcome break from all the writing assigned throughout the year. Many students who shy away from whole class conversations thrive during this assignment.
Just like a normal essay, they demonstrate their knowledge, but they also learn from the people they interview. Creating a podcast is what education is all about: taking knowledge and an open mind out into the world.
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