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EL's Curriculum in NPR's Student Podcast Challenge

7th grade students at Presidio Middle School in San Francisco, won NPR's Student Podcast Challenge!

From the NPR piece...

"Gun violence, social media and mental health are literally shaping middle school," Norah says in their podcast.

They walk listeners through their day-to-day lives – everything from school lockdowns to TikTok dances in the bathroom – and how life in middle school today is different from when their English teacher, Jenny Chio [pronounced CHEW], was a student...

One thing our judges loved about this podcast is the way the students wove in national trends with what's happening in their own school and community. They interviewed their classmates and teachers about heavy topics that are, unfortunately, also a part of their daily lives.



From EL's curriculum- G7:M2

How to Respond to Epidemics-

In Unit 3, students work in triads to create a podcast about a social or medical epidemic that concerns them or their community. Over the course of the unit, students will choose an epidemic topic, conduct research, write a script for their podcast, and use technology to record and sound edit their podcast. Students begin creating this podcast by listening to an exemplar podcast and reading a model podcast script. Students analyze what makes these model podcasts strong and build a criteria for success from their observations. Students then begin researching to gather information for their podcast, participating in a series of mini-lessons as needed to review research skills learned in Module 1, such as refining research questions, creating a research note-catcher, generating search terms, and evaluating the relevance and credibility of sources. Additionally, students consider how individuals, events, and ideas in their epidemic interact as they research. For students who may wish to research the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a chapter in Patient Zero that will support this research, as well as a lot of information available online. Encourage students who wish to research this topic to be sensitive to other students in the class who may have lost friends or family members in the pandemic or were significantly impacted in other ways. For the mid-unit assessment, students first read an article and answer questions to analyze the interaction of individuals, events, and ideas in a text. In the second part of the mid-unit assessment, students then conduct their own research to answer a question prompted by the article read in the first part of the assessment.

In the second half of Unit 3, students work in their triads to plan, write, and create their podcast. First each member of the triad drafts a narrative lead, being sure to include narrative elements such as a hook, characters, and the important events of the epidemic. Then triads spend time combining and refining these narratives into one strong lead for their podcast script, being sure to include narrative techniques such as dialogue, pacing, and description. Students then divide the rest of the script-writing among the members of their triad to write the remaining three sections of the script: the social and scientific ideas, the tools/mindsets/habits of character, and the message or lessons learned. Based on peer feedback from a tuning protocol, students revise their script to present their research findings in a coherent and engaging manner, using formal English when appropriate and eliminating wordiness and redundancy when necessary. Students also practice presenting their scripts in their triads and then for another triad of classmates to receive feedback on their presentation skills of adequate volume and clarity. For their end of unit assessment, students present their script to their classmates, focusing on all the skills they practiced and tuned throughout the unit: coherence and organization of information, volume, clarity, and formal, conventional English. During the performance task lessons, students turn their podcast presentations into actual podcast recordings with music and sound effects. Students must learn and use sound-editing skills as well as collaboration within and across triads to produce a high-quality podcast to publish for their classmates, community, or even the world by posting it online.


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