ISTE20Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Digital Leadership
Summit at ISTE20 Live
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Active Listening and Civic Engagement: Teaching With Podcasts

Participate and share

Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Monday, June 24, 4:30–5:30 pm
Location: 120BC

Michael Messner  
Grab and hold students’ interest with engaging podcasts featuring real-world stories that spark discussion, debate and civic engagement. Explore how to integrate public radio stories into lessons that invite students to think critically about contemporary issues, citizenship and their potential to make positive change in the world.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Optional: free account
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Instructional design and delivery
Grade level: 6-12
Subject area: Language arts, Social studies
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Knowledge Constructor
  • Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
For Educators:
  • Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
Disclosure: The submitter of this session has been supported by a company whose product is being included in the session

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

How can podcasts help to engage students in critical thinking and civic engagement? Research indicates that youth who follow the news have been found to be more active citizens, more regular voters (if eligible to vote), and more likely to be actively involved in solving community problems. Yet only 23% of students performed at or above the proficient level on the NAEP Civics assessment. How can teachers help to improve students’ understanding of what it means to be an American citizen?

This workshop will show attendees how to integrate public radio stories into lessons that invite students to think critically about contemporary issues, their roles and responsibilities as citizens, and their potential to effect positive change in the world. Presenters will share model lessons incorporating podcasts and other digital learning resources (e.g., on the Listenwise platform) that aim to engage students in thinking deeply about issues that affect them and how they can take action to address those issues.

The first step is selecting engaging nonfiction digital audio stories for their potential interest to students and their relevance to the curriculum and to the world outside of school. Featured lessons involve students in listening to podcasts with a variety of digital comprehension support tools available, thus including learners at a range of literacy levels in thinking critically about rich, timely stories focused on issues that matter. Through discussion, debate, writing, and other learning activities in response to those stories, students can deepen their understanding of the issues while sharpening their critical thinking and literacy skills.

The presenters will provide ideas and resources for teachers to implement in their classrooms to support student engagement in critical thinking and civic engagement. In a recent EdWeek survey, 64% of teachers said it was very important for digital curricula to help boost students’ motivation to learn. Attendees will explore sample podcasts and associated lessons and leave the workshop with digital tools and resources to incorporate into their classroom instruction.


Monica Brady-Myerov and Mike Messner will start by explaining criteria for selecting podcasts to use as the basis for lessons that foster critical thinking and civic engagement. They will share sample podcasts selected for this purpose and invite participants to experience model lessons that demonstrate different ways to engage learners in critical thinking about civic issues. Teacher Mike Messner will share challenges and successes related to teaching critical thinking and civic engagement with podcasts. He will share sample lessons and examples of student work that demonstrates critical thinking about issues addressed in public media stories.

Next, attendees will develop a lesson for use in their own classrooms using their own devices. Presenters will walk them through the process of story selection and planning response activities that engage students in critical thinking about important civic issues.

Then, presenters will share ideas for engaging students in personalized projects, in which they choose podcasts on topics of public and personal interest, do additional research, and design action plans for civic engagement in response.

Finally, participants will be guided through an exploration of a variety of additional digital tools and resources for designing lessons that engage students in critical thinking and civic engagement. At the end of the workshop, participants will be equipped with a lesson plan that is ready to implement as well as ideas and resources for developing additional lessons and projects. In the last part of the session, participants will reflect on what they learned and what they hope to take back to their students.

Supporting research

Civic Engagement

Critical Thinking

Instructional Use of Podcasts

More [+]


Michael Messner, Los Altos High School

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