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Technology is becoming a pivotal part of classroom education, and it is becoming more and more integrated into learning environments each school year. While educators have long known the positive effects of utilizing TV, power points, and the internet for increasing student engagement, some teachers are getting even more creative and using podcasts. Podcasts have been around for a long time and some educators have been using them in the classroom for a while, but they are on the rise in educational circles as they offer a new, exciting, and unique take on getting students interested and involved in their learning.
A podcast is simply an audio file in a digital format that can be downloaded for use on multiple technological devices. Podcasts are free and can be subscribed to, and can be listened to on devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets. Most podcasts are relatively short, very engaging, often humorous, and rarely boring. Teachers and students can find podcasts on a number of different subjects, including some incredibly educational topics and some not-so-educational subjects as well. Podcasts are great for increasing English literacy, exploring writing techniques, and encouraging critical thinking skills. Podcasts can also be used as research materials, and they are often more straight-forward than many media outlets today, especially in regards to social and political events and issues.
Whether you’re an elementary teacher who wants your students to learn about telling stories, a middle school teacher who wants your students to discover a love of science, or a high school history teacher who yearns to have students get creative in their exploration of historical events, podcasts are an incredible tool for you to utilize in the classroom. Their versatility and availability make them a great and engaging tool to spark your students’ enthusiasm and learning in the classroom. Here is our list of the best podcasts for the classroom.
On the air since 1995 and available as a podcast since 2006, “This American Life” is the podcast of all podcasts. It is regularly found on iTunes’ list of top five podcasts, and it is all about telling incredible stories. This podcast is targeted primarily at high school students and some episodes may not be great for the classroom, but there are a number of topics that are educational in nature, and some are considered controversial, which may spark great conversation amongst your students.
With a focus on wacky science projects and the latest and greatest scientific studies, “Wow in the World” is a podcast that your science aficionados are sure to love. From edible insects, to relaxing video games, to what makes peppers hot, this podcast has countless episodes, most of which are 30 minutes or shorter.
Made up of nothing but stories from real people around the world, “Story Corps” focuses on preserving the life and legacy of countless individuals. They aim to emphasize that every person has a story, every person matters, and that the connection formed between people is unbreakable and invaluable. Founded in 2003, “Story Corps” is a great resource for learning about individuals and hearing storytelling masters at work.
With a focus on answering questions from curious kids, “Brains On” is an award-winning podcast that releases new episodes every week. They take questions and comments from kids’ submissions, and work to explore new concepts and answer interesting questions using primarily science and history.
This podcast is all about stories. Including fairy tales, original stories, and adaptations of history, “Storynory” is an incredible resource for kids to learn about storytelling. Not only are the stories entertaining and interesting, but they can be a great resource for teaching kids about proper and effective storytelling techniques.
A unique take on asking important questions, “Short and Curly” poses and addresses several ethical-based questions for kids and adults to ponder. From learning forgiveness to teasing on the sports field, “Short and Curly” helps kids and families think about and discuss important ideas with thoughtfulness and respect.
From one of the authors of the Freakonomics books, this podcast covers a huge range of topics. The hosts discuss topics ranging from how to be great at a number of different things to where creativity comes from. Also, many topics on “Freakonomics” podcast are relevant to students and adults today, and everyone can learn a lot from them.
Hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, “StarTalk Radio” is all about space. With topics ranging from space travel to extraterrestrial life to the science behind sports, this podcast is a great listen for anyone interested in space, science, and how the world works. Co-hosts can include comedians, celebrities, and others who are passionate, interesting, and informative about space and science.
For those English language lovers, “The Allusionist” is the perfect podcast. It explores the roots of common, everyday words and phrases in a way that educational, but also light and humorous. Encourage students to listen to this podcast and come up with their own new words based on true root meanings, or find some grammatical or punctuation based jokes or memes.
From the 15th century to historical mysteries, this podcast is educational, factual, and fun. Taking a holistic view of history and explaining key historical concepts in a thorough and informational way, “Stuff You Missed in History Class” could be a great introduction, conclusion, or special treat for a specific unit in your social studies class.
Made by teens for teens, “Youth Radio” is a podcast that highlights the importance of and effect that young people can have on the world. Episodes discuss current social issues from teens’ perspectives, and are the perfect resource for young artists, writers, and activists to learn about important issues and get involved in making a difference.