Podcasting and the Five Big Ideas of Reading

My son is nine years old and has really benefited from using podcasting to improve his reading comprehension and motivation to read. The problem is that he only has access to podcasting at home. It's not that his school lacks resources, rather it has been that his teachers have trouble understanding how podcasting can be incorporated into reading instruction. In fairness to his teachers, my experience has been that the bells and whistles of podcasting are emphasized rather than podcasting as a specific curriculum integration tool. I started wondering how we might leverage podcasting to develop reading skills within all the five big ideas of reading.

The National Reading Panel concluded that quality literacy instruction encompasses Five Big Ideas.

children books Five Big Ideas of Reading

  1. Phonemic Awareness: The ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words.
  2. Alphabetic Principle: The ability to associate sounds with letters and use these sounds to form words. 
  3. Fluency with Text: The effortless, automatic ability to read words in connected text.
  4. Vocabulary: The ability to understand (receptive) and use (expressive) words to acquire and convey meaning.
  5. Comprehension: The complex cognitive process involving the intentional interaction between reader and text to convey meaning.

Retrieved [January 24, 2009] from Big Ideas in Beginning Reading from http://reading.uoregon.edu/big_ideas/trial_bi_index.php

Connections between reading and podcasting:

  • Repeated Reading is a typical technique to develop fluency. Students read the same text several times to develop appropriate reading speed and accuracy. Not all  students are motivated to read the same passage again and again. Add podcasting and suddenly a student is practicing with purpose.... rehearsing and repodcastingcording their best reading. In fact all the digital recording programs I have used actually displays the cadence of speech. Students can visually see whether their reading is fluent or not providing instant feedback.
  • Reading to children is an essential component of a reading program. What if older students recorded recorded themselves reading popular children's books and younger children could listen to them as they followed a long in the book? Checking out an iPod from the library? Downloading books from a school website? Add an RSS feed and audio books can be instantly pushed out to families.
  • Retelling is a popular method for testing for comprehension. Instead of students "telling" the teacher, students can record their retelling in a podcast. Students can listen to each other's podcast to determine who captured the most complete retelling.
  • Teachers could also use podcasting to have students create commercials or recommendations of their favorite books. Other students could listen to their commercial to decide if they want to read the book or not.

Click here to listen to a few examples of kid-created podcasts which augmented guided reading instruction.

It's clear to me that podcasting could be a wonderful tool to make reading and writing more relevant and motivating for students. Scenarios like the ones above can also make training sessions more relevant and motivating for teachers.

What are other ways podcasting could support reading instruction?

Podcasting photo courtesy of Dave Gray on Flickr.

Children's books photo courtesy of Heidi Blanton-Hansen on Flickr


repeated readings are wonderful...showing progress over time; monitoring words per minute, accuracy, fluency, voice, etc as well as shwing how students improve over time (great monitoring tool)
comprehension assignments--take a side, play it out, provide a different ending, describe your fav character and why
Phonemic awareness...kids can practice reading their words, hearing themselves, saying their sounds
dbittner said…
I have a nephew that is in fifth grade and is struggling with comprehension and fluency skills in reading still. I plan to try podcasting to help him improve his reading skills in these areas. Wish me luck!
kemeigh said…
What a great way to keep our kids brains powered up when they get into our classrooms! The face of education has to change to meet this new generation of learners. I am all for this idea. Thanks for making us think and apply technology in a practical and exciting way.
Janette said…
Great ideas for using podcasts with literacy. I often have trouble having students reread familiar text or reading fresh reads too quickly just to finish them. With having the students record their voices while reading, students can observe their own fluency and expression. Students may also pick up upon words they may have misread originally that now once they have heard the podcast discover are not the correct words and may not even make sense in the context of the story.
I also really liked creating the podcasts of story retellings and voting upon whose retelling was the most complete. Many times students cannot create a fluid conversation about a story and this would really motivate the students.

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