Get High School Students Hooked on Podcasts with These Shows

Podcasts have been growing in popularity over the past few years, and it’s more commonplace than not for adults to have a few favorites. It’s basically radio that is personalized to a topic in which you are especially interested–what’s not to like? Teens can also join in the trend! See our list below for some great podcasts for high school students. 

1. Revisionist History. Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and The Tipping Point, looks back through the overlooked and misunderstood in history, re-examining the past and asking whether we got it right the first time. Activity to try: Listen to the three-part series on college (season one, episodes 4-6), and have a class discussion. Trust me, there will be plenty to talk about.

2. This American Life. Each episode of This American Life centers around a theme, with most being journalistic at the core, but some are comedic. This podcast is hard to generalize, especially after over 600 episodes. But the amount of episodes, and it’s massive popularity, should speak for itself. Activity to try: Have students take a theme from an episode and write their own report or story surrounding that theme.

3. Serial. Sarah Koenig tells one story, told week by week. The first season covers the true story of Adnan Syed, convicted for the murder of his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore. The problem: Adnan cannot remember what he was doing the day of the murder. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s someone claiming that he helped Adnan cover up the crime. Activity to try: Have students find a famous crime in history and write a dialogue between themselves and the accused, having the accused tell their side of the story. These projects can be handed in, performed in front of the class, or put into podcast format.

4. Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. Activity to try: Listen to the episode “Sight Unseen” about a soldier’s last moments and the photographer who captured them, divide the class in half, and have them prepare and then conduct a debate on whether or not the photographer has the right to publish the photos.

5. Criminal. Stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle. Phoebe Judge explores topics from owls killing people to “How to fake your death” to the life of a police dog. Activity to try: Have students pick an episode that interests them and do more in-depth research on the topic, presenting their findings to the class. High school students can learn a lot from this podcast, especially those who may be interested in further study in forensics, law enforcement, etc. 

6. Youth Radio is a podcast for teens, published by teens. It was created to showcase the power of high school students and other young people as makers of media, technology, and community. It brings the teen perspective to issues of public concern. Activity to try: Have your students select a topic in the news today and write their own podcast sharing their take on the news. 

Allison Green
Boston Tutoring Services

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