Right now, the entire planet is coming to terms with a world that seemed impossible a few short months ago. As more and more communities transition to their homes full-time and as learning becomes a remote experience, the necessity of finding strategies to educate students in ways that are engaging and fun has taken on new importance and urgency.
Dealing with such momentous change—the loss of routine, the loss of hanging out with friends, the burden of navigating an uncertain world—is certain to correspond with an increase in stress and anxiety. That’s why it’s just as important to provide young people with channels to express themselves creatively.
One approach is to encourage students to use podcasting as both a way to learn new things and as a tool to process the very real emotions they’re currently experiencing. Podcasting is also an opportunity to work collaboratively (and remotely) in order to create a community and audience as immediate as the classroom.
Just as journaling helps people of all ages work through the complex issues they’re facing, podcasting can help students process this crisis in real-time by providing simple and new ways of storytelling. The range of topics to cover is limitless and allows each student to take up themes that are personal and individualized, which fosters engaged and meaningful learning opportunities.
PODCASTS AND PROJECT-BASED LEARNING
Creating and developing podcasts can easily be incorporated into a home-based project-based learning curriculum.
That’s because project-based learning encourages students to solve real-world problems through personally meaningful projects. Typically, these projects take place over an extended period of time and can vary from a week up to an entire semester.
Along the way, students develop deep content knowledge as well as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills—something that the production of podcasts inherently requires.
USING REAL-WORLD SKILLS
Students at Elizabethton High School and Latitude 37.8 High School, developed podcasts about local history. They looked to the heart of their community for inspiration—and inspiring people to share tidbits of history most people in the community had no idea about.
With the support of their schools, each student-produced podcast required the development of a number of real-world applicable skills like:
- Coming up with a concept for the pod, as well as naming it
- Researching and interviewing people familiar with the topic
- Deciding on the pod’s structure (interview vs. narrative/storytelling)
- Learning digital audio recording skills
- Developing and editing scripts
- Project management
- Public speaking
- And a whole lot more
PODCASTS AS A COPING TOOL: WHERE TO START
There is no right or wrong way to approach this current moment in history. For many students, they have never had to deal with something as immediately life-altering as the events unfolding before our eyes.
That said, it’s important to encourage students to express themselves not just honestly, but sympathetically and empathetically. While it may be cathartic to cast blame, doing so can be just as hurtful if the target of that blame isn’t considered as a whole person.
If the students in your lives do decide to use a podcast (or a poem, or an essay, or a song, or a painting) as a way to express themselves, give them the freedom to do so. Privacy and space have gained in priority—let’s do our best to find both for our young people, and ourselves.
Making a podcast is an awesome way to incorporate project-based learning, real work, storytelling, and student voice into a single unit and can be applied to just about any subject or area of interest.
For resources on how to produce a podcast and pods that are sure to resonate with both educators and students, we hope you’ll check out the links below:
If you have ideas for meaningful learning experiences for students during the COVID-19 crisis, we’d love to hear about them.
EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS, STUDENTS, AND FAMILIES
Thanks to the efforts of countless organizations and individuals, there are already numerous resources that educators, students, and families can access online from their computers, tablets, and phones.
Our team at XQ has compiled a comprehensive list which we hope you will view and share:
High School Resources for Remote Learning During COVID-19 School Closures
FOSTERING CONNECTION FROM A DISTANCE
It’s more important now than ever to create a sense of community. If you’re looking for a place to do that with educators who get what you’re going through, join the conversations going on in our Facebook Group, Teach for the Future.
We are energized by the innovation, ingenuity, and enthusiasm of people like you who are working tirelessly to address this new reality for the learners you serve. We’ll continue to listen intently to educators, students, families, and communities as we move forward, together, with urgency, empathy, and humility.
In the days and weeks ahead, we will continue sharing what we learn. And if you have a high school resource to add or a point of view to share, please send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your stories will help all of us build a sense of community and connection.