The Power of Listening

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Photo CC-By Marc Van Der Chijs

This week we explored the use of podcasts in the classroom. I hadn’t thought about using this form of technology in the classroom. I had known what a podcast is and how it sort of works but I don’t believe I have ever listened to one in a class or as in depth as other classrooms use. The first article I read was “What are Teens Learning From ‘Serial’ and Other Podcasts.” In this article I learned about a series of podcasts called Serial. Apparently it is one of the most popular podcasts, but I hadn’t heard of it until now. From the title I could of guessed that the series would revolve around a killer. The article talks about a Mr. Michael Godsey and his decision to use a public radio podcast in his English class. This podcast was Serial. When I read about his reasoning for this I was amazed. Why hadn’t I been exposed to this? It sounds like a great idea. He and other teachers use Serial and other podcasts to address certain education requirements set by the Common Core. Playing radios podcasts in class improves student listening. When all they are given is audio they are forced to really pay attention and listen so they are aware of what is going on. Not only does it improve listening skill, but because of this, it also develops better critical reading skills. Students are able to listen to content that are two-to-three grade levels higher. Listening to podcasts engaged the students better and they did not find it to be boring. Reading this, I would have loved to have been introduced to this in the classroom. It would certainly make learning more fun.

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Photo CC-By Steve Rhodes

In another article, “Meaningful Stories: How Teens Connect with StoryCorps and Podcasts,” I read about a learning and youth development program for troubled schools. This program was StoryCorps. This program invites people to conduct on-on-one interviews of people from around the country. People are able to share and get their stories out in the public. The curriculum consists of three pillars that ask: where have you been? Where are you now? And where are you going? This program is used in the neediest schools to help students develop their path. Some know where they want to end up but unsure on how to get there. This program allows them to reflect on what they want in life.

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When I read more about how other teachers had used this is the classroom I thought, well how can I use this in a math classroom? “A Teachers Guide to Digital Storytelling” provides ways we can incorporate the use of podcasts in our teachings. I discovered that some of these could actually work in a math classroom. I had also looked at 12 Podcasts for Teachers. How great is it that we have all these sources in one easily accessible place? The one that caught my eye the most was the Talks with Teachers and I had listened to a few of the podcasts. Going into this I expected podcasts to be very monotone and dull but it was almost the opposite. Right away there is a blast of music. While the narrator was still sort of lecturing he really played with his voice and made me feel like he was standing right in front of me. I enjoyed the podcasts I had listened to and feel I can learn a lot just by listening to them.

The only disadvantage I can see is accessibility. Some students may not have Internet access and therefore may not get to listen at home. I can also see them as being a sort of distraction. I learned to like podcasts and discovered different ones. Students might do the same in exploring different ones instead of focusing on the one right there in the classroom.

I think doing is the best way to learn. If students are able to make their own podcasts and put their stories and information out there then yes I will have students create their own podcasts. I had not known that podcasts were being used so widely in classrooms and how much of an effect it has on the students and learning. My biggest takeaway from this week’s lesson was discovering new forms of teaching and having a new thing to explore for my classroom.

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7 thoughts on “The Power of Listening

  1. I too felt that listening skills and comprehension are expanded immensely by podcasts. Students really have to focus on a podcast to get the full effect, and the information is usually interesting enough where focusing is not an issue. The narrative form that podcasts offer is truly advantageous to any number of learning skills.

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  2. I had not heard of StoryCorps so I am glad that you talked about that in your post. Can you tell me more about it? Where do they use this program? Is there proof that it is working?
    Also, I totally agree with you about being able to have students creating their own podcasts and digital stories. I wonder if there are any really good video tutorials on how to create podcasts?

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    1. StoryCorps lets people tell their stories through podcasts for anyone to listen to. I think it is great for some if they are trying to inform, bring awareness, or just feel like sharing. It sounds like an amazing thing to be a part of and I am sure there are tutorials on how to make a podcast so you can do the same!

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