Podcasts Pic
Photo CC By-Daniel Filho

When I was young, my parents read to me all the time.  Whether it was a bedtime story or at any other time during the day, I was read to constantly, and I LOVED it.  Since I have learned to read to myself, I have not had nearly as many stories told to me, and I didn’t realize that I missed it until I began exploring the world of podcasts and digital storytelling.  Everyone loves a good story, and these are the perfect tools for incorporating interesting grade level material while in the classroom.

As I began looking into how podcasts and digital storytelling can be used in an educational setting, I was surprised that I had never really thought about them being something that I could or should be using as a teaching tool.  According to KQED News‘ “What Teens Are Learning From Serial And Other Podcasts“,  podcasts in the classroom can have some serious benefits.  When students listen to information rather than read it, they can work with material up to two or three grade levels higher than their normal ability might allow.  This encourages students expansion of vocabulary, listening, and critical thinking skills.

Digital storytelling also comes with its perks, as it truly gives students an opportunity to create their own unique material on a platform that they are probably more well-versed in than we are as the teachers.  The vast majority of students are extremely familiar with most basic forms of technology, which makes creating text, stories, photography, audio, and video clips a very achievable task.  Furthermore, the skills learned though the creative act of digital storytelling transfer to the tasks asked of them by state standards and tests.  By learning to tell stories digitally, students will be better able to write essays, speak in front of an audience, listen to both their peers and teachers, and communicate more effectively.

It is clear that both podcasts and digital storytelling are things we should consider incorporating into our lessons.  The only drawback that I could foresee would be time constraints.  As explained by Michael Godsey, a high school English teacher in California, some podcasts can be extremely lengthy.  Serial, the podcast he has shared with his students, spans across class periods for several weeks.  For some, it may be difficult to wiggle a unit this large into an already tight schedule.

Initially, I thought that having students create podcasts or digital stories might be a little too difficult for students at the elementary level.  The more I think about it though, I think you could get creative and find ways to work it into your classroom.  I might look for material that is shorter in length, however, since attention spans are much shorter in younger students.  Edudemic is a fantastic resource, providing many creative ideas for digital storytelling lessons in the classroom.

If I end up teaching upper elementary, I would love to have my students use StoryCorps to conduct short interviews.  I absolutely loved that the purpose of this movement was to emphasize personal connections in our growing digital world, without completely rejecting the use of technology.  I have not seen many other programs like this that promote such a balance.  I have downloaded the StoryCorps app and I hope to try it out soon!






  1. Love that you tied in the difference between being read a story, and reading a story. Once I read that I began to think about the last time someone read a story to ME. Working at the preschool, I’m constantly reading to little ones, maybe I should let them read to me! (or pretend to)


    1. It really made me think hard about it too! I loved being read to when I was younger and still enjoy it! I think I even enjoy it the most when I am being read a children’s picture book! 🙂 Thanks for reading!


  2. I agree that these would be great additions to any classroom! I also think it is great that you incorporated how students can create their own material. This could be so beneficial in so many ways. Thanks for sharing!


  3. Ashlyn, I never realized that reading a story and getting read to is different until now. I have always loved reading but don’t remember getting read to, so listening to podcasts and digital stories was kind of odd for me. A great thing about podcasts is that they appeal to different types of learners! Great post!


    1. You make a great point about podcasts appealing to different learners. Especially as an English teacher, I’m sure you will encounter some reluctant readers, so maybe this is a way you can interest them and encourage learning! All of our students will learn in different ways so I think it’s important to explore things like podcasts and digital storytelling. Thanks for reading!


  4. I think it’s great you are finding ways to incorporate what we learn in this class into your elementary classroom! Though you’re right that finding something shorter will be better due to attention span, but also time constraint when looking at what needs taught for standards! I personally have a hard time listening to anything without getting distracted, but I think for those who learn audibly it is a huge asset!


    1. I do think it will be a great tool for those who learn better by listening! How do you feel about digital storytelling? Since it also has the visual component, maybe that would be a better strategy for learners who get easily distracted…? Thanks for reading!


  5. Great ideas for the future to decide how you would incorporate these methods into different grade! I think that Edudemic had some wonderful ideas that could be used for elementary students. I work in a school full time now and I am curious after this unit how students would react to an age appropriate podcast, like they are being read a fun story not a political debate. Great post.


    1. How exciting that you have the opportunity to experiment with some of these new ideas right now! I wish I had that same advantage instead of having to wait another year until I am teacher!!:) Edudemic definitely looked like a great resource to keep bookmarked! Thanks for reading!


  6. I love that you gave so much insight into the future and ideas that we could be using in our classroom. Although you and I are very separate in our teaching fields, we can all learn from each other and collaborate.


  7. I agree that students would feel more comfortable in creating with stories with technology than teachers. It would be beneficial for students to conduct interviews because they are learning a lot of skills in doing so. It helps them to be confident, plan, and prioritize. Great!


    1. If a podcast does not interest a student, it may be because they get bored or distracted easily when only the audio is present, so I would try to provide some kind of visual for them to follow along with; either pictures or a script to read.


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