Making your own podcast

There are so many ways for your students to show what they know, here is 72 of them. Podcasts are a medium that allows students to combine digital literacy and Language Arts with just about any subject, topic, story or idea. You may want to encourage your students to use podcasting to show their learning or as a way to dive deeper into a topic but don’t know which direction to send them in. As we all know, google can be a source of information overload, so I have compiled some of my own research into a short how-to post. Check out my tech inquiry partner Nat for the basic of microphones and recording and Erin for how to prepare for an interview. – Nick Youngson – CC BY SA 3.0

Step 1: Choose a format and a focus topic

Here are a few of the most common podcast formats:

  • Interview podcasts: These are podcasts with a one or two hosts who interview people.
  • Scripted non-fiction: These shows are mostly serial podcasts that have a single theme for a full season.
  • News recap: A podcast that recaps the news in a specific industry.
  • Educational podcasts: These are scripted non-fiction shows that focus on teaching their audience. Examples: Stuff You Should Know, Hidden Brain, and TED radio hour.
  • Scripted fiction: These podcasts are most similar to radio dramas and are often scripted and highly produced. Examples: Bubble by Maximum Fun, Limetown, and Everything Is Alive.

Podcasts are a great opportunity to get students communicating and collaborating so encourage them to work in pairs or small group. Roles can be assigned to group members like “tech specialist’ or ‘script editor’ but it is important that each member contributes to the research portion of developing the podcast, the ‘what’ of the show.

Step 2: Choosing a topic

We all have a story to tell or find. Narrowing down a topic for your podcast can be difficult, New York Public Radio has a some great resources on coming up with a story.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when coming up with a story:

  • what are you passionate about?
  • what do you have a unique perspective on?
  • is there a social problem you’d like to address in a story?
  • what stories and interview subjects do you have access to? 
  • what sides of a story are often ignored?
  • is there something that might surprise?
  • what’s at stake? what do people have to win or lose?
  • what is a story that people don’t know about, but should?
  • what is something you are very curious about and want to know more about? (ideally this is true for any story you tackle)

Once you have an idea of what you want your story to be about ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Who would you interview? * think about someone you have access to
  2. What do you want to find out? Where can you look? Teacher, parent, friend, internet, books etc.
  3. What is your unique perspective on this?

Step 3: Develop an outline

Pixabay -CC BY 2.0

For your podcast to sound organized and professional it is important to figure out what your going to say and come up with an outline for your recording . The best way to prevent rambling and dead air is to write a podcast outline. You don’t have to write out your podcast word for word but taking the time to write out a short outline will lead to a dramatic improvement in the quality of your episode. Encourage your students to listen to other podcasts and take notes to get ideas.

Here’s a sample outline to consider, via

  • Show intro (who you are, what you’re going to talk about): 30-60 seconds
  • Intro music (repeat for each show so listeners identify the jingle with your show): 30-60 seconds
  • Topic 1: 3 minutes
  • Topic 2: 3 minutes
  • Interlude (music or break): 30 seconds
  • Topic 3: 3 minutes
  • Topic 4: 3 minutes
  • Closing remarks (thank audience, thank guests, talk about the next show): 2 minutes
  • Closing music (suggest same as Intro music jingle): 2 minutes

Part 4: Keeping it to the point

Writing a script and keeping it short is a great way to get to the main ideas of your topic. After writing a portion read it over and get someone else to read it, then ask if there is any parts that are unnecessary and can be cut out. Overloading your script can take away from the important information your trying to relay.

Part 5: Setting the scene (helping your audience visualize)

Providing context and visual aids allows your listeners to visualize what you are talking about. Unlike online videos, 99 percent of podcast content is invisible, this requires your listeners to use their imagination to visualize the information. You don’t have to describe every detail just be aware that your listeners may need a little help to understand what you are talking about. Using just a few descriptors can set the scene for your listeners imagination.

Here is a great list of descriptive words.

Use sounds and music! This is a radio show after all. Adding something as simple as a few seconds of song can really spiff up your show.

Part 6: Get creative, have fun and think about what your audience will want to listen to

For a great episode on the making of Brains On and some great resources check out this link

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