What! A podcast? I know what you’re thinking. Sounds complicated. Sounds expensive. Sounds, well, technical. The truth is, listening to podcasts or watching videocasts in your classroom couldn’t be easier—or cheaper. If you have a computer and an Internet connection, you already have all the equipment you need.
1. Wild Animal Chronicles
Best for: Introducing your curious students to the orangutans of Borneo or the penguins of Antarctica.
Why It’s Worth It: Six-minute, jaw-dropping, well-narrated videos perfect for grades 3–8, produced by National Geographic, available for free over the Internet? Of course they’re worth it. Topics range in size from honeybees to whales, so it’s easy to find just what you need to enrich your unit.
Where to Find it: On iTunes, or at www.nationalgeographic.com/podcasts
2. Radio WillowWeb
Best for: Kid-to-kid learning of literature, geography, math, and more.
Why It’s Worth It: The students at Willowdale Elementary in Omaha, Nebraska, produce regular 10-minute audio podcasts containing segments like “Did You Know?” and “Vocabulary Theater” packed with grade-perfect learning. Your students will get a kick out of hearing Revolutionary War history from fellow third graders!
Where to Find it: On iTunes, or at www.mpsomaha.org/willow/radio
3. Children’s Fun Storytime
Best for: Letting someone else read aloud to the kids for a change.
Why It’s Worth It: This new audio podcast, started this past December, features dramatically intoned readings of favorite kids’ stories like The Little Engine That Could and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
Where to Find it: On iTunes.
4. Poem of the Day
Best for: Poetry Month, of course. Perfect for a quick poetry break, or an ongoing writers’ workshop.
Why It’s Worth It: Here are audio recordings of poems by many of the heavy-hitters—Emily Dickinson, Ezra Pound, Langston Hughes—so it’s easy to find a poem appropriate for your class.
Where to Find it: On iTunes, or at www.sonibyte.com
5. My German Class
Best for: Creating your own language lab—no funding required.
Why It’s Worth It: No one teaches German (or Chinese, or French) at your school? There are so many podcasts for foreign-language learners. You can find lessons on iTunes. My German Class is a weekly video podcast created by Clark Shah-Nelson, a former elementary school teacher from Denver, Colorado. Kids can watch Shah-Nelson make toast as he teaches them the German words for “toaster,” “butter,” and “plate.” It’s all in German, but kids will catch on.
Where to Find it: On iTunes, or at www.mygermanclass.com
6. The Science Show for Kids
Best for: Clear, accurate answers to kids’ real science questions, like “Why do we have five fingers?”
Why It’s Worth It: The Science Show for Kids is a five-minute audio podcast hosted by psychology professor David Brodbeck, who invites children to send in their burning questions. How do bees make honey? Are there really aliens? “If I don’t know the answer,” Brodbeck says, “I’ll find a scientist who does.”
Where to Find it: On iTunes.
7. ESL Teacher Talk
Best for: ESL teachers—packed with classroom activity ideas, interactive games, teaching insights, and interviews.
Why It’s Worth It: Co-hosts Mark and Eric, both ESL teachers, share insights about their classes. (One teaches in Japan, the other in the United States.) They interview ESL experts and offer many classroom-ready ideas.
Where to Find it: On iTunes, or at www.ESLteachertalk.com
8. The Teachers’ Lounge
Best for: Teachers. Hang out (virtually) with these two middle school teachers as they interview authors, talk about teaching challenges, and just plain chat.
Why It’s Worth It: The how-tos: how to deal with swearing; how to set up service projects; etc.
Where to Find it: On iTunes, or at www.podcast.net/show/67551
Best for: Video booktalks that get kids excited about reading a new book.
Why It’s Worth It: Former librarian Sonja Cole hosts 3-minute video booktalks for kids in grades 3-8. The Web site also includes lists of read-alikes for the books she talks about.
Where to Find It: On iTunes, or at www.bookwink.com