I recently authored an article for NEO about using podcasts in the classroom, but that certainly isn’t the only place educational podcasts can be enjoyed. One podcast for kids and adults to listen to together, Wow in the World, is embarking on a special summer edition beginning next week. On June 14th, the podcast will begin streaming daily through the end of July. Each week will have a theme and the episodes will encourage interactivity with STEM projects and “bonkerball antics galore!” Click here to find out more about Camp WeWow, and mark your calendars for this summer (or winter – depending on which part of the world you live in!) activity the entire family can enjoy.
In my latest post for NEO, “Podcast Pedagogy: Leveraging Audio Programs for Learning,” I talk all about the power of podcasts in the classroom – listening and responding to them, as well as creating them. This industry has really become popular in the last few years, and there are so many free materials out there that you and your students can take advantage of for learning and creativity. One fun new app that I mention in the article is “That Part,” which I have enjoyed using to save snippets of podcasts that I want to remember. It’s currently in beta, so there is a glitch every now and then, but it has been great to just take a screenshot of a podcast while I’m walking my dog, and using the app later on to share out the moments of inspiration I think family and friends will appreciate. One resource I don’t share in the article (because I discovered it after the article was submitted) is this awesome free podcasting template from SlidesMania.
If you’d like to catch up on my previous articles for NEO, here’s the list: Six Ways to Support Spatial Reasoning Skills Online, Let’s Talk a Good Game: Mining Talk Shows for Classroom Engagement Ideas, How to Do More with Less Screen Time, How to Facilitate Meaningful Discussions in Hybrid or Virtual Classrooms, Top Ed Tech Tools for Differentiation, From Normal to Better: Using What We’ve Learned to Improve Education, Applying Universal Design for Learning in Remote Classrooms, How Distance Learning Fosters Global Collaboration, How to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom, and How to S.T.E.A.M. Up Distance Learning.
A 4.5 hour roadtrip to see my daughter last weekend prompted me to load up on some podcasts. I added a couple of new ones to my Spotify playlist, including Adobe’s The Creative Educator, hosted by Tacy Trowbridge. So far, there are only three episodes. I listened to the most recent one, “Learning Spaces that Inspire,” a conversation with Rebecca Hare. Hare is the author of The Space: A Guide for Educators, which you can find on her website.
Before you dismiss design as being the least of your problems as an educator right now, you may want to at least glance at the transcript of the episode. Rebecca Hare is very conscious of the challenges teachers face right now. Her advice is not about buying futons for your classroom or hanging curtains in the windows. She gives practical suggestions for teachers who have zero budget and may even not be teaching in person right now. In fact, her mantra is “addition by subtraction” so that you are improving the quality of learning by removing items that are not essential in your space. Instead of pushing content to students, she is an advocate of “pulling learning through” your students by giving them more choices and agency within your physical and metaphorical learning spaces.
I look forward to listening to more episodes of The Creative Educator, and will be following up on several of the other links on the podcast page.
Smash Boom Best is a debate podcast for kids. Season 3 will be airing this summer, 2020, but you can still access past episodes from Seasons 1 and 2, and even vote for your choices here. For example, I listened to “Invisibility vs. Flying” before writing this blog post. The episodes are an excellent way to introduce debate to students in upper elementary and middle school with their kid-friendly topics and efforts to include their young listeners by inviting them to submit debate ideas. The “Micro” and “Sneak Attack” rounds add to the fun.
Once your students have listened to a debate or two (the episodes are about 35 minutes long), you can use the curriculum provided by Smash Boom Best to help them create their own exciting debates. On that same page you will also find downloads for scorecards that can be used during the debates and some other debate resources.
Smash Boom Best is part of a family of podcasts that also includes Brains On. This is an award-winning show where the host investigates those burning questions we have about science, like, “Can you dig to the center of the earth?” More episodes can be found here. For educator resources and some transcripts of select shows, you can go to this page.
One of the many podcasts that I listen to is Radiolab, a program that makes science easy to understand for non-scientists. I was happy to find out from one of their Tweets that there is now a “Radiolab for Kids” site, where they have collected programs from their archives that would appeal especially to children. One of the many episodes is, “Mapping Tic Tac Toedom,” which I’ve embedded below. In this broadcast, the hosts try to figure out who in the world knows how to play Tic-Tac-Toe – a game that seems ubiquitous to Americans, but do people in other countries play it?
If your child listens to the podcast, and is interested in learning more about Tic-Tac-Toe, I recommend the Wikipedia entry on “Tic-Tac-Toe Variants,” which offers suggestions for different versions such as “Revenge in a Row” and “Random Turn Tic-Tac-Toe.”
My students enjoyed playing Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe, and you can find directions for that here: “Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe” (as explained by “Math with Bad Drawings”)
They also really liked the video, Tic-Tac-Toe Game That Goes Horribly Wrong, which I would use whenever we were about to do a unit on inventing games so they could see what happens when people just assume you know the rules to a game.
Other great listens on Radiolab for Kids? Try learning about animal minds, super cool science, or zombie cockroaches among other things. Chances are, even the adults will learn something new!
The “Wow in the World” podcast from NPR is just one of the many kid-friendly podcasts that can be curated by the Leela Kids app, which is available on iOS or Android. Download the app to your mobile device (search for it under “iPhone Only” in the iTunes store – even though it works fine on iPads), and open it up to see a simple menu that allows you to choose an age bracket (3-5, 5-8, 8-12, 12-15*) and a category (Stories, Music, Animals, Ocean, Space, and Curious). Once you’ve made your selections, you can then see either a list of specific episodes or the list of shows that provide those episodes. The duration of each podcast episode is listed under the title. Some are a minute long, while others can be almost a half hour.
How could you use this? Well, as a parent and/or a teacher you may know how difficult it is to search for appropriate podcasts. Now you have a treasury your children can listen to during long car trips or in classroom centers with a set of headphones. The great thing about this is that podcasts have frequent updates so there is a slight chance that you will never run out of episodes!
If you are using this in the classroom, you can gather student reflections using a response sheet like this one from Chase March. Students searching for topics for Genius Hour projects may find something that they may want to research further. Another idea is to use the app to find relevant podcast links for class, and embed those links in a Hyperdoc.
As you can see, there are many ways to use podcasts in class, and the Leela Kids app just made it even easier.
*If you teach secondary students, here is an article on “Likewise,” a more robust collection of podcasts that can be used in the classroom.