Lesson: Using Podcasts in the Classroom

Grade Level/Class: 4th-5th grade students (as part of a unit on state history)

Goal of the Lesson: To introduce students to podcasts and how to create them. Students will use the podcasts to demonstrate the information they have learned about the major cities in their state.

1) Students will demonstrate an understanding of Michigan Tourism by researching a major city in the state and analyzing its major attributes.
2) Students will use commercials as outlines for creating their own advertisement for the city.
3) Students will be able to create their own podcast commercial to encourage visitors to come to their cities.

  • SS.IS.1.3-5: Develop essential questions and explain the importance of the questions to self and others.
  • SS.IS.2.3-5: Create supporting questions to help answer essential questions in an inquiry.
  • SS.IS.3.3-5: Determine sources representing multiple points of view that will assist in answering essential questions.
  • SS.G.1.4: Construct and interpret state maps using various media.
  • SS.G.2.4: Analyze how the cultural and environmental characteristics of places in the state change over time.
  • CC.K-12.SL.2: Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
  • CC.4.W.5: With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
  • 3-5.CI.1: Produce a media-rich digital project aligned to state curriculum standards (e.g., fable, folk tale, mystery, tall tale, historical fiction).
  • 3-5.CI.2.: Use a variety of technology tools and applications to demonstrate his/her creativity by creating or modifying works of art, music, movies, or presentations.

Present the following commercials with audio only. These commercials are meant to excite students and interest them in visiting these places.

Ask students the following questions and record their answers. Allow students to also add their own questions or additional relevant information.
  • Did these commercials peak your interest to visit these locations?
  • Why?
  • Did they make you want to go visit and do any of the activities there?
  • Which ones?
  • Why?
  • What were the components of the commercial?
  • What was important to include?

Present the following problem to the students:
  • Our state is seeing a downturn in tourism. Our marketing team has been hired to try to get more people to travel to our state and enjoy the great things our state has to offer.
  • We have been asked by the state officials who are paying for our services to inform radio audiences about and convince people to make travel plans to our state's big cities.

Activate Prior Knowledge
  • In Social Studies we have been discussing our state, its history, landmarks, size, population, etc.
  • What are some of the major cities in our state?
  • What are the major landmark/tourist attractions in our state? Can be a state park, landmark, theme park, etc.

  • In a small group, create a 1 minute commercial about one of the big cities or landmarks in our state.
  • Each group must have a different topic.
  • Break down the commercial.
    • Select the commercial format that most appealed to you.
    • Analyze the commercial and decide what was appealing to you.
    • Create a list of the important things they included.
    • Create a general outline of the commercial. This can serve as a road map for your commercial.

Breakdown of the assignment tasks
  • Research your assigned city/landmark.
  • Make a list of the marketable aspects of your town. Rank them in order from most important to least important.
  • Using your outline, fill in the places and information. Adjust as needed to make it flow.
  • Write a script that avoids using a lot of splashy, meaningless adjectives, but has a focused, factual feel with a heavier use of verbs. Just reading the message out loud. should be enough to convince someone to visit the city or landmark. Do not rely on music or sound effects to make the case for you.
  • Select an image from Flickr and create an icon that will be used when sharing the commercial as a podcast. (copyright laws must be followed, consider Creative Commons Attribution license). The icon should be edited to include the name of the place your group is promoting.
  • Using Audacity or Garage Band, record the first,rough draft of the script and adjust the timing so that it is neatly within the 60 second structure.
  • Choose the background track music selection from an open source like http://freemusicarchive.org or http://audionautix.com/.
  • Download and add this track to your Audacity or GarageBand project. Trim and fit this music to fit withing the 60 second timing.
  • Assemble the podcast. Refine and adjust the levels of the voice and the background music. This is the rough draft.
  • Have another group listen and share feedback.
    • Two things that are appealing.
    • One thing that they might do differently if it were their project.
  • Consider the feedback, make adjustments.
  • Save the project. Export it to an MP3 and add the Icon Photo. In the properties, give credit for the music in the form of a proper citation as well as for the image, and add your group's first names as creators.
  • Place on the classroom website.

Project Rubric

Self-Assessment Rubric

Illinois State Board of Education. (2015). Common Core State Standards. Retrieved from http://www.isbe.net/common_core/pls/level1/pdf/ela-standards.pdf
Illinois State Board of Education. (2016). Illinois Learning Standards. Retrieved from http://www.isbe.state.il.us/ils/social_science/standards.htm
Teacher Written Eduware (2015). Cooperative Learning Evaluation Packet. Retrieved from http://www.lapresenter.com/CoopEvalPacket.pdf