InClass

Podcasts aren’t just for adults, they’re also a great way for students to learn outside of the classroom. Serial, Freakonomics, This American Life … Most of us have our favorite podcast or, at the least, can name a few. But, podcasts aren’t just for adults anymore. There’s a burgeoning collection f

Mar 27, 2017

Podcasts aren’t just for adults, they’re also a great way for students to learn outside of the classroom.


Serial, Freakonomics, This American Life … Most of us have our favorite podcast or, at the least, can name a few. But, podcasts aren’t just for adults anymore. There’s a burgeoning collection for kids — and they’re the perfect learning opportunity for your students.

Some evidence indicates that children past the age of 7 benefit from listening to podcasts. This medium, which is void of visual stimuli, encourages individuals to exercise their imagination and use their creative thinking skills. Plus, parents tend to feel guilty if they give their kids too much screen time, and podcasts give kids a break from screen use. The digital audio files can also be used on road trips and before bedtime. Clearly, your students can benefit from podcasts.

The only problem? Your students probably aren’t interested in learning personal finance from Dave Ramsey, and Stephen Dubner’s Tell Me Something I Don’t Know will probably go over their head.

Fortunately, we’ve put together a list of our favorite podcasts for students:

Story Pirates (Ages 5-8)

This is an excellent podcast for young kids, and it’s one of the best for helping students use their imaginations and creative thinking skills. The general premise is this: Kids submit their stories to the show and world-class actors, comedians, and musicians bring them to life. Not only can your students listen to the podcast, but also you could create an assignment where they write a story and submit it to the show. Who knows? A student’s story might be selected!

Tumble (Ages 8-12)

Maybe you want a show more closely related to classroom topics. Tumble is the perfect fit! This science podcast covers an array of topics in episodes such as, “The Secret Life of Your Shower,” “The Voyage of the Ocean Trash,” and “The Hunt for Black Holes.” Both entertaining and educational, this show is sure to spark your students’ interest in science.

Short and Curly (7-12)

One of a teacher’s (many) jobs is to manage student behavior. This podcast might just help — it tackles ethical issues in a way students can understand. By examining ethical conundrums, your students might learn to become more ethical themselves. This podcast discusses ethical puzzles in episodes like “Is Pokémon GO Playing You?” “Is Dumbledore as Great as He Seems?” and “Is it Ever OK to Lie?”

But Why? (5-12)

Nurturing curiosity in young learners is one of the great joys of teaching. But Why? is the perfect podcast for answering students’ curious questions. Episodes answer questions like “Are yawns really contagious?” “Why do we like to eat certain foods?” and “Why don’t bicycles fall over?” The questions are interesting, the answers are fascinating and, if you’re not careful, you too might find yourself caught up in this show!

Podcasts and Pedagogy

OK, so podcasts nurture creativity and help students learn, but how can you put this into action? There are many ways you can use podcasts, here are just a few:

  1. Assign episodes of a podcast and use the information they provide to drive class discussion.

  2. Ask students to write down questions as they listen to the podcast. Then, work with them to research answers to those questions.

  3. For narrative podcasts like Story Pirates, have students submit their own stories (as previously mentioned) or create an assignment where they write an alternative ending. You can also have them illustrate the story as it was told on the show.

  4. Assign a different episode to each student and, after they’ve listened, have them present the topic to the class.


Ultimately, this is just a start — there’s no limit to the ways you can use podcasts in your classroom. Do you have other ideas or other shows you’d like to share? Post them in the comments below!

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