Between the coronavirus pandemic, racial violence, climate change, and general uncertainty about the future, today’s kids are growing up in chaotic and uncertain times. Unfortunately, research has shown that anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues are on the rise for young people today.
There is, however, some good news. We have a media outlet that allows them to open up, a place to relax, relate and release and connect with others and that media is a podcast.
Podcasts are easy, accessible audio that enable students, their families or school administrators to discuss various topics, sharing stories of challenges and triumphs, tips and activities, or overall life management skills.
Thanks to an invitation from Pamela Draper, Founder of Gateway Charter School in Wilmington, DE, I am going to be presenting Podcasting for Pre-Teens / Podcast Pathway for Students on April 3rd.
I will have an opportunity to talk to nine different groups of students, for 10-15 minutes each who are in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades and I want to get them interested in starting their own Gateway Charter School Podcast.
What is a podcast?
Simply put, podcasts are audio programs that can be a news reports, comedy, educational, inspirational stories, multi-act plays; formal and information interviews with family members or experts in their field of their career or collegiate endeavors, they can be friendly conversations; personal narratives or book, movie or tv show reviews.
Podcasts can be informative, entertaining, motivational or persuasive. They can be funny, serious, thought-provoking or emotional. In short, a student’s podcast can be pretty much whatever they want it to be.
How can I make my podcast stand out?
Once the students have decided to start a podcast, they may be wondering how to expand beyond just their family listening to the show. We know that folks are starting a podcast almost daily, as a matter of fact multiple times per day especially if you are signed up for podcast news or emails and may feel intimidated in starting or standing out in what might become a crowded field.
However, if you are consistent with a clear intro, content or interview and an outro with a call to action (CTA) they will be able to stand out from the crowd but mostly they must be consistent. This is not a one and done or hit it and quit it project.
Here are a few tips to get started with a classroom podcast:
- Choose a topic that matters to the students. Not only will the passion of the topic excite the students during the creative process, but it will shine through in their final product as they record week after week, month after month because it is a long-term commitment and you don’t want them to become bored.
- Use a format that brings the topic to life. Ask yourself: What is the best way to tell this story? Is it appropriate to tell the story from one student’s point of view or should you conduct interviews with others? Does it make sense for the podcast to have a rigid structure or should it be more of a free flowing conversation? Should it be a nonfiction account or could a fictional story be more entertaining and meaningful?
- Prepare. Before recording the podcast episodes, create an outline or a script. Having a plan will both help the students make the most use of their time and it will make it easier for your listeners to follow along.
- Make sure your audio is clear. You don’t need to purchase expensive, high-end recording equipment to make a great podcast, but make sure to be in an area with no background noises and everyone speaks clearly.
- Flow of the show. It can be spoken word, with added music or sound effects, two or more hosts or interview style. Just think about how you are going to run the flow of the show and create a structure for the podcast that will engage with their listeners’ emotions.
How do I come up with a topic for my podcast?
The first question normally is “what am I going to talk about. Well your podcast can be about anything, which includes questions on everything from video games, book reviews, movie reviews, city life, fashion to family fun, travel, news, history, storytelling, counseling or technology.
Take a listen to the entire podcast episode to learn more then leave a review and share this episode with other teachers or school administrators who may be thinking about starting a podcast for their students.