Transforming Literacy through the use of Podcasts in the Senior Primary Classroom







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Today Hannah shares with us her love of podcasts and outlines some ways that they can be useful in the classroom. Read on for some fantastic suggestions to learn about how we can learn on the go!

Even before the pandemic hit, it seemed podcasting was the next big thing. Everyone and his mother was starting up a podcast, and with the subsequent lockdowns and inevitable daily walks, the podcast recommendations began to fly.

There is no subject that hasn’t been explored through a podcast by now. In addition to the massive growth in Audible, it is apparent that the art of listening has never been more exciting. As an educator with a passion for literacy education, this has come at the perfect time. Here are my 5 reasons why I think every classroom should utilise the gift of podcasts.

1. Comprehension Strategies

We all know the importance of developing comprehension skills in our students. In what is undoubtedly a literacy-dense education system, these higher order skills are essential for academic success, but also foster the problem-solving mindset needed for 21st Century thinking.  Podcasts provide an excellent chance to change things up and provide authentic opportunities for the children to use these skills. Children need to actively engage to infer meaning from small details such as music or vocal expression, and learn to pay attention to minute details.  Every time I finish an episode, I am amazed by the quality of the questions from the children.

2. Inclusive Literacy Education

Literacy has many definitions, but can often be thought of as reading and writing. With different learner types and children with different learning needs within your class, over-reliance on text based activities can prevent some children from experiencing literacy success. By using podcasts or audio recordings, all children can access the material. In my experience, using podcasts can build self-esteem in children who might be hesitant to engage in a discussion around a text. Through creating their own podcasts, children are also enabled to explore and share their interests and opinions in an innovative way.  

3. Guided Discovery

One realisation that stood out to me from my time teaching online was that without student interaction and collaboration, my lessons are sleep inducing. As the teacher, my role as a facilitator of guided discovery has never been more apparent. Through teaching children simple IT skills such as how to operate a voice recorder, we can give them the key to engaging, interactive activities which need minimal teacher support. Through creating and listening back to their own ‘podcasts’, children can explore effective communication, how to appeal to an audience, the importance of rich and varied vocabulary, to name just a few essential literacy skills. This all happens through their own reflection, feedback from peers, and with some teacher feedback when necessary.

4. Light The Creative Spark

Despite my best efforts to reduce my own screen time, I recently scrolled past a meme (another one) that made me stop and laugh out loud. It read ‘Not everyone needs a podcast’. While this might have some glimmer of truth in it, it is absolutely not the case in the classroom. As a huge advocate for the voice of the child in education, podcasting can give each child a podium to express themselves. Our students have so much to say, and through podcasting, we can give them the means to do so. I love to use expert groups in SESE and my students are always delighted to take the role of teacher. Using podcasts in conjunction with project work, novel work, and even Drama, can open up another realm of possibilities for children’s’ creative expression.

5. Interest and Engagement.

Podcast recommendations:

  • Everything Under the Sun

  • The Six Minute Podcast

  • But Why?

  • Shakespeare Retold

  • Story Pirates

This is without doubt been the biggest benefit for me personally from using podcasts in my classroom this year. Fostering a love of learning in my students is my passion project and I am constantly on the lookout for new ideas and new strategies to keep 30 eleven-year-old boys engaged. While the listening activity is beneficial in its own right, I have felt it is the opportunity for student-led discussion that makes podcasts so valuable to an educator. My students are always asking for just one more episode, which is music to this teacher’s ears.

Thank you Hannah for this wonderful introduction to podcasts for the senior classes. It’s enlightening to see so many innovative approaches to learning in 2020/21! Keep up the great work!

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