Tag Archives: Writing Assignments

25 Podcast Assignment & Project Ideas

Podcasts are a great tool for learning and to showcase learning. With cloud based podcast platforms like Anchor and Spreaker, creating a podcast is simple and accessible to all. I have curated twenty five different podcast assignment and project ideas for students whether working remotely or in the classroom. Each one can be adapted per grade level and content area taught.

1. Myths Around the World – Mythology is part of the curriculum in elementary school, middle school, and high school when students study ancient cultures. First students can read and listen to creation myths and hero myths from around the world to understand the elements of mythology. Taking examples from Greek, Native American, Indian, and Chinese mythology, students then write their own creation or hero myths. Students create their own mythical characters and write descriptions about their origins. Students can work collaboratively to write and then record their original myths for a class podcast series.

2. What On Earth Science DebatesEarth Science teacher in New York, Deb Davis has her 8th grade students research and prepare opening debate speeches around controversial topics in earth science: fracking, genetically modified foods, Keystone Pipeline, space travel. Students prepare an evidence file collecting valid and reliable research to utilize for their debate. On the day of the debate, students record the entire debate and create a podcast channel for the science debates. Parents and other students can listen to the debates and evaluate them for solid evidence and effective arguments.

3. Let Me Tell You My Story – Based on content area of the class, this podcast requires students to conduct interviews of people about their experiences living during a specific time period (history connection), or career exploration, or stories about community development. 

4. Book Versus The Movie – Which was better, the book or the movie? Students can debate and discuss the qualities of a book turned movie and which they would recommend.

5. RadioLab Style Informative Inquiry – I love the Radiolab Podcast and have written about having students create their own Radiolab style podcast on this blog and in a chapter of Teaching Literacy in the Digital Age. The podcast is organized like an informative essay with three body paragraphs, evidence to support the claims, and enhanced with sound effects and interview clips. Students can have lots of fun discussing  key topics in science or be more light hearted by debating who is the better super hero: Batman or Superman.

6. “Tribe of Mentors” – So I am a podcast junkie, and Tim Ferriss’ is one of my all time favorite podcasters. His podcast series includes interviews with celebrities, athletes, scientists, and more. Have students interview the people who they consider influencers and forward thinkers to share expertise and insight how to live your best self.

7. Create a suspenseful podcast like Lethal Lit to tell a mystery, horror or gothic tale in a series of episodes that lead the listeners through the mystery with red herrings and lots of suspects.

8. Need To Know – What are the things that you need to know before you graduate from high school (or elementary school or middle school). This podcast can be a series of short podcasts about what people should know once they leave school. For example, maybe  balancing finances and how to fold your laundry. Have students brainstorm a list of things that they think are imperative to know to help them navigate their lives beyond school.

9. Personal Narratives and Memoirs are great for podcasting and storytelling. Check out The Moth Radio Hour for examples for storytelling that makes you laugh and cry.

10. Poetry Podcast – Have students write their original poetry and then podcast their work to share with others. Students might also consider podcasting their favorite poems and discuss the elements of the poem that make it memorable.

11. On This Day  – Create a short podcast to introduce important events that happened on the specific day recording the podcast. The podcast can be based on history, scientific findings, or famous feats.

12. Wonderopolis: The PodcastWonderopolis is a fantastic website with daily wonders about our world curated on its website. Students can create their own wonders and then create a podcast to share their wonder findings.

13. Newscast – Students can take their school newspaper to another level with a podcast. Allow students to share movie reviews, news about school, and highlight school related stories on the podcast.

14. Let Me Help You – Students can create a podcast to teach others about technology. Allow students to podcast short and easy to follow “How To . . .  Tech” lessons for older adults. This can be adapted to any content or subject matter. For example, I can really use a math podcast to explain aspects of geometry and algebra.

15. Choose Your Own Adventure – Remember the choose your own adventure books from the 1980s? What if students worked together to create their own stories that listeners were able to select where they want to story to go next. This could be an entire class or grade level project with each student writing and podcasting their “chapter.”

16. In The Know – Students can research all about animals, diseases, or sports and create an encyclopedia podcast that catalogues all about these topics.

17. The Best Recipes – Students can share family recipes on a podcast to create a collection of delicious dishes to share with others.

18. The Best Book I Ever Read Podcast – Here is a way to collect book recommendations and showcase students favorite reads. Students can access the podcast to find out what to read next. Think of it like a podcast for GoodReads in Classroom 2A.

19. Reader’s Theater – Have students create an “old time” Prairie Home Companion show with sound effects and original music.

20. The Story Seeds Podcast is a collaborative podcast among kids and authors. Each episode “captures the magic that happens when kids ages 6-12 meet and collaborate with beloved storytellers who grow original short stories inspired by their story ideas.” Have students create their own story seeds or borrow one from the show and create their own story magic to podcast.

21. Investigative Journalism – The Serial Podcast brought attention to an unsolved murder mystery and also the excellence of a podcast. Have students be their own investigative journalists and go hunting for the truth about local legends or unsolved crimes.

22. Reel vs. Real – Whether you are a Mythbusters fan or not, watching movies and shows online you might question the science of car races, explosions, or the reality of people’s lives in the moves. Have students analyze the films to discern fact from fiction.

23. Making the Invisible Visible – Many times history and characters are one sided and we rarely see or hear about those who are silenced. eclipsed, and ignored. Let’s bring them to the forefront by having students research and create podcasts that are history or literary based and give voice to those who were kept voiceless.

24. You’re Wrong About – This is actually a podcast series now and the idea is genius if you have students create their own podcasts to research and discuss things that adults are wrong about.

25. What this song means to me – For music fans, have students choose their favorite songs and podcast their close reading and analysis of what the song means to them. They might also address the craft moves of the artists and the key elements of the song.

Want More? Check out Building Book Love blog post which highlights many awesome podcasts that you can listen to, share with your students, and inspires more podcast creation ideas.

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Traveling Through The Twilight Zone with 3 Writing and Viewing Assignments

“You’re travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

Te Twilight Zone was a television series that first aired in 1959 for five seasons and has had three revivals since then, including this year on CBS. Created by Rod Serling, the original series addressed topics of science fiction, suspense, horror, and fantasy. The original series is currently available on Netflix.

This classic series is a great text to analyze with students and use as a creative writing model. Through the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and suspense, Sterling (who wrote two thirds of episodes) was able to include his own social commentary timely themes  from the anxieties of nuclear threat to the broken promises of suburbia, warning against anti-intellectualism and condemning virulent racism and bigotry — themes that all sound uncannily familiar today. 

Two episodes to watch with students are the 1963 episode, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and the 2019 remake, “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.”  These two episodes are worth viewing for a compare and contrast assignment. I have provided the graphic organizer I created for my students below.

Each episode of the initial Twilight Zone opened with a monologue from Serling where he would introduce the theme in his own, hypnotizing way. Sometimes abstract, sometimes, direct, each monologue served to draw the viewer into a story that might challenge long-held beliefs or put them in a world they never could’ve imagined. Each of these monologues ended with Serling inviting the viewer to enter a story that took place in “The Twilight Zone.”   

Similarly, the Twilight Zone closing monologues offered commentary and persuasion. Check out the closing monologue from “Eye of the Beholder.”

Now the questions that come to mind: where is this place and when is it, what kind of world where ugliness is the norm and beauty the deviation from that norm? You want an answer? The answer is, it doesn’t make any difference. Because the old saying happens to be true. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in this year or a hundred years hence, on this planet or wherever there is human life, perhaps out amongst the stars. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Lesson to be learned in the Twilight Zone (1960).

What does Ron Sterling state in his closing statement? What is he trying to persuade his audience to think about? Examining the openings and closings requires students to study  craft and structure. Viewing and studying openings and closings are opportunities for students to flex their own writing muscles and voice to provide their audience with synthesis, analysis, and substance. Once students look at various models and mentors, they can write their own concise social commentaries or monologues about fear, identity, or stereotypes.

Ultimately, having students create their own compelling Twilight Zone episode or updating a classic Twilight Zone episode allows students to be creative and innovative communicators. Storyboards and graphic organizers are scaffolding tools to help students create and execute an engaging episode.

Twilight Zone Proposal

Twilight Zone Project Reflection

Twilight Zone Planning Sheet

Want more about the Twilight Zone formula and storytelling techniques, check out this video essay deconstructing the cinematic techniques and formula for Twilight Zone episodes.

 

 

 

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