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A free summer seminar for experienced high school journalism advisers

From the 23 teachers who attended this workshop in July 2019, we have included Solutions Journalism Story Ideas, other Story Ideas for a whole range of topics and Tech Examples of something they learned, many of these for data visualization, plus some resources anyone can use in the future for these topics.

3 Easy Ways to Get Students Into Podcasting

There are a variety of reasons people listen to podcasts, whether those podcasts are news-related or entertaining. People may listen to the stories, want to feel informed or entertained or want to learn random information. Ultimately, what all of them have in common is the relationship they establish between the listener and the producer.

WKSU radio personality Amanda Rabinowitz says that with an audio story, you have to make people see what you are talking about without the visual element.

Amanda Rabinowitz, local anchor for NPR’s Morning Edition on WKSU, explains how to position equipment and yourself during a session on podcasting at the Center for Scholastic Journalism’s Advanced Advising Workshop at Kent State on July 17, 2019. Photo by Susan Kirkman Zake

Audio is an intimate medium. It connects the listener to the voice on the other side of the headphones or stereo in a way that print and video cannot.

But how do you teach students to create podcasts?

While some students have listened to podcasts, the vast majority of them have no idea what quality podcasts are, let alone how to create them.

Here are a few things to get you started:

1. My Audio Diary: Many students want to use podcasts to spout their own opinion and ideas. While not unheard of in the professional realm, since there are some podcasts out there that do that, students generally are not well known enough to warrant a following of their own, no matter how funny the student thinks he/she is. One thing a teacher can do is provide students with an opportunity to share their own personal voice, but in a structured way. Insert “My Audio Diary” here. The assignment is simple: Choose a moment in your life and tell us the story of that moment in a narrative way. Before I’ve introduced the assignment, I’ve created my own version of the assignment (mostly to practice the skills I’m about to ask my students to demonstrate as well as to anticipate any problem areas).

Then I give the students two-three days (depending on skills) to write, one/two days to acquire the audio files, and another two days to edit. A simple way to elevate this assignment for a summative assessment once they have completed the personal audio story is to have them find someone on campus whose story they could tell in the same format.

A student example:

2. VOX POP: Once students have mastered the idea of capturing audio sounds, it’s time to throw them out and have them interview people, learning how to use the microphone in an environment outside the newsroom. I start this lesson by sharing a story reported by KNKX, a Seattle-area NPR affiliate, of a husband and wife who find their fame doing video game voices. I tell my students to listen to the story and try to deconstruct the format. You can find the link


Next, I give them the basics of the VOX POP (which means “Voices of the People”): go out and interview five different people, from different grades, preferably a mix of genders and ask them the same question. We use this assignment to talk about the basics of interviews (no yes/no questions, etc.). The basic format is a voice-over (VO) by the reporter introducing the topic in a feature lead-type way, the five voices strung together, then the reporter wrapping up the package and signing off. The only other requirement is that the voices heard need to either be identified (with first & last name, grade) either before the voices or after the voices but before the reporter wrapping it up.

A few student examples:

3. Audio package: Once students have gotten use to the format for the audio story and how to use the equipment, it’s time to take the leap and complete the ultimate summative assessment: a short podcast on a topic of their choice. Students fill out the planning sheet (topic, vision, who to interview, format, deadline etc.) then have a week to complete the overall project.

A few student examples:

Grading: All audio projects and their grading is dependent upon what the teacher covers during the process. Here’s a colorful version of my “Magic Rubric” that works.

Related links:

Popped up on my Twitter feed today:

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  1. WOW! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. Very excited to get this started in the upcoming year. Thank you for all the resources!

  3. I can’t wait to try some of these things with my students! Thank you for the step-by-step to build our confidence with these new tools!

  4. Thanks for spelling out these beginner assignments. Looking forward to giving them a whirl!

  5. Thanks for sharing your skills with us! Can’t wait to have more time to read your tips and tricks!