Thursday, July 23, 2020

To Podcast Or Not To Podcast

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

To podcast or not to podcast...that is the question.

Interestingly enough, I asked myself pretty much the same question in 2014 when I was considering starting a blog (To Blog Or Not To Blog...That Is The Question).

I've been as apprehensive about launching a podcast as I was about starting a blog. I didn't think I had anything worth writing about or if anyone would be interested in reading my posts. And if no one would read them and if my blog would be more of a journal...what was the point? Likewise, I've wondered if podcasting will be worth the time and investment. While I don't intend on purchasing additional software and equipment, time is certainly a valuable commodity. It will be one more thing on my to-do list and it could potentially distract me from my priorities and most importantly, take time away from my family. Though I pondered the idea frequently, I quickly dismissed the thought.

That is until recently.

Last April, I joined a virtual PD session on student podcasting and was very intrigued. When the presenter played samples of her students' podcasts, my heart skipped a beat and I knew this was something I needed to pursue. While I would like to eventually facilitate a student-run podcast, for now, I'd like to start a podcast so I can promote podcasting in the classroom.

With most schools going with a remote or hybrid learning model this fall, podcasting is a great tool for project-based learning and assessment. Podcasting can be productive in both listening and speaking about the content in our curriculums. Ideally, we should have students listen to podcasts and once they are familiar with the format, have them create their own.
  • Listening to Podcasts. News and information directly tied to course standards are a great way to enhance the curriculum and keep your content fresh and relevant. I'm a big proponent of teaching with current events, and assigning a listen instead of a read may be a better option for some students. And together with a transcript, it's an easy way to offer a read-aloud accommodation, although it would be helpful to all students. Here's a Free Podcast Reflection Sheet from We Are Teachers that can be used with a podcasting assignment. 
  • Student-Created Podcasts. From self-assessments to group discussion to expert interviews, podcasting provides teachers invaluable evidence of learning while sharpening students' communication skills. There are numerous resources out there to help you and your students get started, but I highly recommend taking a look at two resources from Read Write Think
I also encourage you to check out or download the Anchor app on your smartphone or tablet. Although there are other free options, Anchor is free and super simple. So simple that students can learn how to use it on their own and you won't have to take up valuable class time walking them through it, although you can provide a link to a how-to video just in case.

My head is spinning with ideas for student work, but with all the newness brought on by the pandemic, we'll just have to wait and see how things will play out before I develop a solid plan. I do know that podcasting would be an invaluable experience for our young people. Just like blogging was a gamechanger in my ESL classroom, I know that podcasting will have a similar or greater impact on students. Aside from enhancing communication skills, all the technology involved in the craft can increase learners' confidence and positively impact their school experience. Who knows? A simple podcasting assignment may help a student find his or her calling.

Image by Michi S from Pixabay

So, To Podcast or Not To Podcast?  Teaching Tidbits Podcast is on. Just like my blog, my podcast will feature tidbits of ideas, reflections, and inspiration to keep educators (myself included) moving forward on our teaching and learning journeys. Sometimes it will be just me, but I do hope to be joined by educators and also students. It will be an interesting school year. I'm excited, and certainly a little anxious, but I'm ready for the ride and I hope you'll join me. 

Until next time, I hope you'll stay healthy and strong. And remember, it's the tidbits that make it all grand. 

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