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Using Podcasts in the Classroom

Last year I used podcasts in my fifth grade classroom for the first time. 

Here’s what students had to say about them:

“I like that I can just listen and not read a screen.”

It’s easier to take notes while I listen.

They are fun! I love them!”

Easy to understand.”

I learned something new.”

Why I liked them:

  • The classroom was eerily quiet last year. We were all six feet apart and masked. Podcasts got students talking to each other!
  • There is a podcast for everyone. They come in a wide variety of genres and formats.
  • Podcasts come in different lengths. 
  • They help meet state standards for speaking and listening.
  • Easy way to weave current events into the day.
  • They are free!

Here are a few podcasts we enjoyed:

Forever Ago:   I decided to use Forever Ago during our nonfiction writing unit. From sandwiches to shoes, each episode of this history show focuses on the origin of one thing. In each episode, the hosts play “First Things First” where they challenge listeners to put three things in the order that they happened in history. Some students chose to include a similar feature in the nonfiction books they wrote. One of my classes coined it the “First Things First” craft move. 

Smash Boom Best: Smash Boom Best presents facts and opinions about two things and lets listeners decide which one is best. Every episode highlights a claim and rebuttal for each “side” so I knew it would be a great mentor text for our research-based argument reading/writing unit. After listening to several episodes together as a whole class, I included podcasts as a choice during independent reading. There was so much interest in listening to them that creating a podcast became a research-based argument writing project choice. Many students used their research to create scripts then recorded their shows using Chromebooks and Screencastify. My “Final 6” about Smash Boom Best: Definitely a keeper for this year!

Are you using podcasts in the classroom? Please share your favorites!

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