Ever have one of those moments where you were looking for something, and the answer fell right into your lap? That happened to me this week, when I discovered the podcast Serial. Lately I’ve been obsessed with listening to true crime YouTube videos while I clean house. The downside is sometimes I get distracted from cleaning because the nature of the video requires me to watch it. Serial is a podcast (no viewing required!) about the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, MD. Adnan Syed, Lee’s ex boyfriend is currently severing a life sentence for her death. The catch–there isn’t any physical evidence that ties Syed to Lee’s murder. He was convicted off of another person’s word, and a cell phone call record that semi lines up with said person’s story. I don’t want to give anything away, so if you are interested, go give it a listen! I’m writing this post later in the week than planned, because the podcast hooked me! Within a matter of days, I had listened to the entire thing. On a side note, my house has never looked cleaner! 😉
Now that I got my rambling out of the way, the heart of this week’s discussion: podcasts in the classroom. After listening to Serial, I did wonder about the educational value. Is this just something to do for fun in the classroom, or is there something significant here? I tried to think of ways to use podcasts in the classroom, and my mind drew a blank. Luckily, I stumbled across people on the internet with much more creativity than I have. Turns out, a lot can be covered with a podcast based lesson! There are English standards that specifically focus on listening skills. Podcasts can also strengthen a student’s analytical skills, especially with a story like Serial, where the listener must think critically about explanations that are presented. What caught my attention the most is that students can listen at 2-3 grade levels higher than they can read! This information, along with links to Serial themed lesson plans can be found at this website.
I really grabbed on to the idea that students can listen at a higher grade level. As an elementary education major, I can see so much value in this–a great chance to not only develop listening, but also vocabulary! With audio listening activities, you can expose students to content that they might otherwise struggle through and never actually get anything out of. I also think that podcasts are a great way to build community among students. When a class reads/listens to a book together, it turns into more than just an assignment–it becomes an experience.
After this week, my attitude towards podcasts has gone from a well, sure…to a heck yes! Now that I’ve learned the educational punch they can pack, I definitely want to look more into how I can incorporate them into my future classroom.