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Using Podcasts to Generate Deep Discussions in the Classroom


Listening to, dissecting, and responding to topics via podcasts can be a great way to get kids to engage in important discussions.  As an audio-only medium, podcasts also foster listening skills.

Listening to, dissecting, and responding to topics via podcasts can be a great way to get kids to engage in important discussions.  As an audio-only medium, podcasts also foster listening skills.  You can have a class-wide discussion about the selection, and/or whip up some reflection sheets to help focus your students and get them thinking critically about what they heard.  In addition to listening to podcasts whole-class, they can also be added in as an independent choice station.  


You can find podcasts on just about any subject!  A quick Google search for podcasts to use in the classroom will provide dozens of curated lists to get you started.  Alternatively, search for something specific by using wording such as “[subject] podcast for [age range]”.  Kids Listen is also easy to navigate, hosts podcasts all in one spot and if you click “Find Podcasts” it will categorize them into the age levels.  You can look for guidance on a podcast review website to get a feel for whether or not a podcast will be appropriate for your classroom.  If you’re unable to get good information about a podcast, you can always preview it for suitability by having it on the background while you grade, have lunch, or even on the drive home.  


Here are some of our favorite podcasts, loosely organized by topic and accompanied by a suggested age range:

  

Storytelling 

Primary - What If World, Circle Round, Story Pirates  

Middle/Upper Elementary - Storynory, The Story Seeds Podcast 

Middle School/Early High School - Eleanor Amplified, Flyest Fables, Book Club for Kids, StoryCorps

High School - This American Life, Welcome to Night Vale, Serial 


Science/Discovery 

Primary - But Why

Middle/Upper Elementary - Brains On, Tumble, Wow in the World, Flash Forward    

Middle School/Early High School - StarTalk, Science Friday 

High School - Freakonomics, Stuff You Should Know, Radiolab 


History 

Middle/Upper Elementary - The Radio Adventures Of Dr. Floyd, The Past and The Curious 

Middle School/Early High School - Stuff You Missed in History Class 

High School - 1619, Code Switch  


Current Events 

Middle/Upper Elementary - KidNuz, Short & Curly  

Middle School/Early High School - Listenwise, This I Believe, The Way I Heard It

High School - Youth Radio, Criminal 


Other Notable Podcasts

Primary

  • Pants On Fire seeks to help young students how to sort out truth from “fake news” using a fun game show format. 

Middle/Upper Elementary

  • Smash Boom Best is a kid-friendly debate podcast you can use in your speech class, or any class in which you want to teach your students how to defend their arguments.

  • Fate and the Fablemaidens or Dungeons & Dragons & Daughters are family friendly podcasts following Dungeons & Dragons games, which not only provide imaginative storytelling but also highlight ingenuity and creative thinking on the part of the players as they seek to meet challenges that arise in the game.  You may find one of them to be a great addition to your language arts or drama class.

Middle School/Early High School 

  • The Allusionist explores the roots of words and phrases that we use every day in a fun, humorous way.


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Listening to, dissecting, and responding to topics via podcasts can be a great way to get kids to engage in important discussions.  As an audio-only medium, podcasts also foster listening skills.




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Brittany Washburn
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