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Beyond Pressing Play: Podcasts in the Classroom

Pennsylvania Convention Center, 124

Listen and learn: Ed talk
Recorded Session
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Middle School Teacher
Pleasanton Unified School District
Lisa Highfill describes herself as a thinker, philosopher, debater, and geek. She has worked in Pleasanton Unified School District in the San Francisco Bay Area for over twenty nine years, and is currently the district’s technology integration specialist working in the new virtual academy. Lisa is the co-creator and co-author of The HyperDoc Handbook and Teachers Give Teachers.
Fayette County Public Schools
Donnie Piercey is the 2021 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, and he specializes in using technology to promote student inquiry and engagement. Over the past seventeen years of teaching, these interests have given him the chance to represent his class all around the world, including a National Geographic fellowship to Antarctica in 2018. Donnie is also the host of Teachers Passing Notes, Gen-Z Media’s podcast created for educators.
Gen-Z Media
Peabody Award-winning creator Ben Strouse oversees the leading youth-focused podcast studio Gen-Z Media as CEO. Before co-founding GZM, Ben practiced Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law in New York City. He wrote the children’s book "Hey Boy" (Simon & Schuster) and book/music/lyrics for the Off-Broadway musical "Whateverman."

Session description

Podcasts can be much more than something to pass time during indoor recess. They can light sparks for learning through a unique approach to narrative. Join us as we go beyond pressing “play” and hear how we guide students, both as consumers and creators, through the rich podcast medium.

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this session is to introduce educators to a podcast-based curriculum and resources that can be used to provide students with opportunities to experience engaging content, inquiry-based exploration, and creative expression.

By the end of this session, attendees will:

- Learn how to use a variety of pedagogically sound practices to incorporate podcasts into their classroom.
- Be introduced to podcasts and ready-made lesson plans from Gen-Z Media (a Peabody Award winning podcasting company) and other educator/student created resources (HyperDocs, student-created podcasts/examples, etc.) that are aligned with content/standards.
- Create a simple, one-minute podcast that shares their own story.

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Introduction: More Than Pressing Play (5 Minutes):

Discussion on how and why students have the ability to move beyond simply consuming media and become creators and the role of podcasting in this paradigm shift. (5 minutes) .

Testimonials (10 minutes):

- Hear from Ben Strouse (Founder of the Peabody Award winning podcast company Gen-Z Media) about their shows and the positive impact that they’re making in schools. (5 minutes)
- A fifth grade student will share (virtually) their experience with Gen-Z Media’s podcasts. This guest will talk about their experience creating a podcast during this school year (5 minutes)

How We Use Gen-Z Media Podcasts (15 minutes):

- Attendees will listen to a brief snippet of a podcast from Gen-Z Media and will be shown actual student reflection and work samples based on the episode. (5 minutes)

- Teachers will be directed to the session resource page and the new page (launching in mid-October) and then shown the educator designed and content aligned resources on the site. (5 minutes)

Share free graphic organizers & templates (made in Google Drive, Adobe Express, and OneDrive) that students can use to plan, write, and record their own podcasts. This includes tutorial videos for teachers and students. (5 minutes)

Your Turn! (30 minutes):

- Attendees will practice an in-classroom character profile activity using Adobe Express and choice boards after listening to an episode of the Six_Minutes podcast. (15 minutes)
- Teachers will partner up and create a simple podcast episode (15 Minutes)

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Supporting research

Lawson, Anton E., and Robert Karplus. “The Learning Cycle.” A Love of Discovery, 2002, pp. 51–76.,

Fuller, Robert G. “‘Don't Tell Me, I'll Find out’ Robert Karplus—a Science Education Pioneer.” Journal of Science Education and Technology, vol. 12, no. 4, 2003, pp. 359–369.,

Robert Karplus’ development of the Learning Cycle is based on the work of Piaget and the theoretical foundation of constructivism, allowing for students to engage in active critical thinking where they are allowed to formulate their own understanding of a concept.

The Learning Cycle Karplus and his colleagues developed has three parts:
Exploration – pupils learn through their own actions and reactions with minimum guidance. The learners are expected to raise questions they can’t answer with their present ideas or reasoning patterns.

Concept Invention (explain) – the concept is introduced and explained with help from the teacher.

Concept Application – the concept is applied to new situations and its range of applicability is extended. Learning is achieved by repetition and practice so that new ideas and ways of thinking have time to stabilize. (Atkin, Karplus, 1960)

The digital curriculum shared in this session was developed with this Cycle of Learning at its core. When designing a digital lesson, in the hopes of making it more than just a digital worksheet, including effective structure enables teachers to create meaningful learning experiences that have the potential to reach multiple learners.

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Session specifications

Grade level:
Skill level:
Curriculum/district specialists, Library media specialists, Teachers
Attendee devices:
Devices required
Attendee device specification:
Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Subject area:
Language arts, Science
ISTE Standards:
For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
For Students:
Creative Communicator
  • Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
The submitter of this session has been supported by a company whose product is being included in the session
Related exhibitors:
Soundtrap for Education