NPR Is Launching Its First Podcast For Kids With Updated Review| USA Extra News

I am so excited! I just stumbled across this on Facebook. I have another way to bring relevant current events to my students. I’ve received great interest from my kids when I use newsela. Now I have podcast to add to the agenda. I’m thinking writing responses, persuasive essays, research inquiry, and teaching standards such as generating questions. This is technology I can use well. I love a good story, but nonfiction fosters engagement and discussion so easily. Click on the title below to learn more.

Wow in the World: NPR for Children Ages 5 – 12

Update Review May 22, 2017

This podcast is divided into multiple segments with highly expressive presenters, Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas.  When I first saw the podcast was 24 minutes, I thought, oh no, this is simply too long.  Once I began listening, I realized the format covers multiple topics.  This means a teacher would need to preview, then notate the beginning/end of each segment.  Since this a method that is effective for auditory learners, plus provides practice in active listening, then my opinion is that it’s worth my time.  Each episode, written by number Ex: Episode 1, has Conversation Starters for the family/class and links to written articles.  If you use only one section in the podcast, you could push the link to the entire podcast and included features through an app such as Bloomz, Remind, or your website.

Introduction 0:00 – 1:44

Planet 9  1:45 – 7:12

Conversation and Creative Story told by young girl, Birdy 7:14 – 9:05

Commercial 9:05 – 9:50

Origin of Humans and How our Brains became Smarter with Seaweed 9:50 – 17:50

Conversation with Kids 17:55 – 18:30

Gratitude is Healthy 18:35 – 22:20

Conclusion 22:21 – 24:16

In the first segment about the search for Planet 9, I thought about how it could be used during a solar system or for a research unit. Questions I would model during this podcast would be: How can kids and adults with simple telescopes help scientists with sophisticated technology find this planet?  Why do scientist estimate the size of this planet to be 15 times the size of Earth?  Visuals could be present for groups to collaborate in putting the planets in the correct order, generating questions, and coming up with a practical plan of how to answer these questions.

How our brains become smarter was mildly interesting.  Mainly I wondered if so much seaweed and eating diet evolved our brains, what will be the long term effect of how we eat today?  I could research, but I might not like the answer. 🙂  In the Gratitude segment, I can visualize setting up a classroom environment of respect and appreciation.

As you can see by the time segments, I’ve noted you can move the cursor forward and backwards to play only the parts relevant to your lesson.  My final thoughts:  I think I will use pieces of this.  The hardest aspect will be making the time to preview and jot down the times.  It helps that the conversation starters and article links included tell you which topics will be presented.  This will save time because you know if a topic may coordinate with the current or future standards which need to be addressed.


Poetry reading of “Trees”

First Video Podcast

Improvements have been made to the first audio podcast, but I still don’t seem quite like myself.  I’d like to put a little more oomf into it – hmm not sure oomf is a word.  🙂  Zest works.  Voice is not as monotone.  Surprising obervation?  Video podcasts are easier than audio podcasts – at least for me.  In this video, I read “Trees” by Harry Behn in my backyard.  At one point, a chicken can be heard clucking, but I thought it added some fun to the video so I kept it.  The chosen assignment for this is to walk outdoors to find inspiration to write a poem.  It seems fitting since Earth Day just passed.  I also describe a future Venn diagram assignment comparing “Trees” with the student poet’s own poem.  Hope you enjoy!

Tree Poem2

First Podcast “Connections: Past and Present”

Connections Curie Einstein Hubble2


Possible assignments with this podcast:  1) Choose one piece of information in this podcast for further research, then create your own podcast to share via blogging 2) Create a Venn diagram to compare/contrast one connection from this piece 3) Write a descriptive narrative providing a potential future story from one of the three connections


Okay, guys, go easy on the comments when you listen.  This is my first attempt at creating/editing a podcast.  I’ve decided to publish it as a baseline to showcase improvement over time.

The 4-1-1

Here’s the concept for classroom use: by using a broad title, the podcast can be utilized across the curriculum.  For fun, I chose Curie, Einstein, and the Hubble Telescope, then I provided current information relevant to the three topics.  Alternatively, I could have focused on connections in history, literature, or math.  The podcast will be used to generate interest, encourage analysis, plus further use of technical skills.  That’s all I have at this point.  More experimentation is required to develop application ideas and create more professional podcasts.  I was shocked how southern I sound!  Audacity was used for recording, voice editing, and converting to an MP3 with a download.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts on podcasting, plus integration of this tool in the classroom.

What Have I learned

Start smaller!  Beginning with a 5 minute podcast when first learning – not the best idea.  For classroom use two connections are plenty.  Intonation matters.  My first trial was too bubbly so I toned it down for the second trial.  After editing this piece, it’s obvious it needs more flow, particularly in the beginning.

Editing is tedious, but easy.  There’s still a learning curve on this one, but the process was easier than expected.  But WOW did it take time to examine the audio, second by second.

Scripting is probably the best option for me.  I chose to improv on this one which showed.  At least until I establish familiarity, then scripting may produce fewer mistakes and dead space.  At least that’s the current theory.


Newsflash for all educators!  For a professional, must-have podcast, you really want to visit the Scientific American podcast page.  I was hooked from the moment the April 6, 2012 segment began:  Lent End Means Hyena Free Lunch.  Looking at science objectives, this particular podcast could be connected to ecosystems, food web, adaptations, global impact, religion, culture, or geography.  I’m sure there are many more topics, but this is what spun out of my fingers as I type.  I envision using this podcast feed to inspire writing, research, discussions, critical thinking, connections with TEKS, and interest in new topics.   I don’t believe technology should be used without (relevance), but it certainly opens of the doors of imagination more widely.