High school English teacher Michael Godsey’s favorite work by William Shakespeare is Hamlet. But a few years ago, he stopped teaching his students about the centuries-old classic in favor of a story that was unfolding in the fall of 2014: Serial, the podcast.

Michael Godsey

The story of Adnan Syed, Hae Min Lee and the community at Woodlawn High School captivated podcast listeners around the world, including Godsey. The story was so engaging, he made listening to Serial in real time an assignment for his students and eventually made podcasts a regular part of his English class. He also teaches with episodes of This American Life, RadioLab and Serial Season 2 that cover subjects relevant to the lives of students.

When he first started teaching with podcasts, students were applying English Language Arts critical thinking skills to podcast episodes, much like they would after reading a book. However, the more he taught with podcasts, he began to discover that his students were learning in ways he hadn’t anticipated.

Godsey developed lesson plans for teaching with podcasts and started hearing from teachers around the country about how podcasts were getting students excited about learning again.

Hear from Michael Godsey and his students on the latest episode of the MindShift Podcast. Find out how he uses podcasts in the classroom and how his students were transformed by the experience. Find us on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayNPR One or wherever you get your podcasts.

How Listening to Podcasts Helps Students Read and Learn 29 October,2017Ki Sung

  • Lois Letchford

    I believe we underestimate the power of listening and learning! Love you post!

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  • CAN

    I also use podcasts in class – have been for quite a while. They are wonderful texts for students. But, I would caution not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. I use podcasts and Shakespeare, and they all enrich.

  • Hearing Loss Coach

    As one who has had a hearing loss all my life – (I’m close to 70 now) I remember having to have my language lab (with headphones) requirements waived in college because I cannot hear with headphones – I’m wondering how these teachers can accommodate those of us with hearing loss? I was “mainstreamed” all through school (including the B.S.) and yes, it was often a struggle, but listening with headphones would have set me apart dramatically when I could not participate in the same assignments as my classmates. Please give some consideration to this!

    • Julee Faso-Formoso

      Students could use CART, an oral or ASL interpreter, or a printed script (soon after the pod cast is finished) depending in the assignment and a student’s IEP accommodations.

    • MA

      There are now hearing aids comparable with headphone use. Technology is amazing with its advances-

    • Dawn Miller-Fulton

      . Some podcasts have transcripts available. Also students with hearing loss may have access to transcription software.


Ki Sung

Ki Sung is the senior editor of MindShift. Prior to joining MindShift in 2014, she was a digital news trainer at NPR.

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