Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me! Using radio and podcasts as learning tools

I’m a huge fan of audio books, so for that reason, I really love podcasts that tell stories, especially those which sound like old-time radio shows. For instance, on Saturdays, my husband and I like to listen to NPR’s Lake Woebegone and Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me radio programs.

As Far As You Can Go Without A Passport - Tom BodettWhen we lived in Alaska, I used to listen to Tom Bodett tell stories on the radio. Now I listen to his stories via audiobook – especially since he’s the one reading them!  There really isn’t anything like Tom Bodett telling a story!  For those not familiar with Bodett – he’s the voice on Motel 6 advertisements – “We’ll leave the light on for ya.”  I highly recommend reading or listening to his stories.  In fact, a book from him, such as As Far As You Can Go Without a Passport or The End of the Road, would make an excellent read aloud or mentor text because it’s composed of short stories.  (**Note to self!**)

The End of the Road- Tom BodettAll of that to say that audio books or podcasts would make excellent additions to an English or Language Arts class because they are fun to listen to, they activate previous knowledge, stimulate discussion and can be used to introduce a topic!  We don’t want student creativity to be limited but to expand using stories, podcasts or videos that we share with them, so use it as a “jumping off point” and turn the students loose! Writing projects will require collaboration of teams, analysis and research of the subject, and creative thinking skills,…plus it is fun!

I was surprised by how easily it seemed the videos could be used in class because they are only 3-7 minutes long, and can be tailored to subject and age appropriateness.  These videos would be great springboards for a lesson!  I think students could relate and would be inclined to respond to them in small groups or open classroom discussion.  However, I was not really excited by the single picture videos. Some of my favorite videos included:

1. Monster Mash – This video explores the psychology of how scary stories are taught in school and why children fear them at home.

2. Frankenstein – Engines of Our Ingenuity

3. Macbeth – This video reminds us of how Shakespeare’ Macbeth explores the dark forces of the human mind.

4. Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum and the social and political allegory of the Wizard of Oz.

5. The Most Dangerous Game – This digital story uses one of Richard Connell’s famous short stories, The Most Dangerous Game to provide ELA teachers with an alternative method for covering stories and testing reading comprehension as well as assessing whether students are developing a clear understanding of how literary elements are used in stories.

I can certainly envision using these videos in class.  My only question now is, how am I going to remember all this cool stuff to share with my students??


4 thoughts on “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me! Using radio and podcasts as learning tools

  1. During the schoolyear, I don’t delve into e-books a whole lot. I’ve got a million things to do, mostly involving writing, and if I try writing while someone’s reading in my ear, I’m either gonna start writing what I hear, or not pay any attention to what’s being said. I like being engaged with the story.

    During the summer though, I frequent some pretty long drives, and listening to audio books makes them go by in the blink of an eye. As far as NPR goes, I’m a fan of All Things Considered and This American Life, myself.


  2. I agree! I also feel there should be more pod casts used in the classroom. These add inspiration to the classroom lecture time. I hope we will eventually be able to step away from the traditional teaching incorporate such things as pod casts. It is OK to celebrate the new advances that truly should be changing the way the classroom is ran.


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