Archive for Radiolab

Week in Review: Radiolab

      Friday Dialogue from Your Two                                                        Favorite Educators 

As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to assess their innermost feelings about Radiolab, podcasts and Heathers. 

1.  Do you think that Aubrey has an NPR problem?

Emily: Yes, but it is a healthy problem to have.  It’s a lot better than being addicted to TMZ and Arby’s.  NPR is great, don’t get me wrong.  I do enjoy some programs (This American Life?  Hello..fantastic.  Wait, Wait…I wait all week for it).  But, let’s be honest, NPR is kind of like Heathers, minus the murder and Christian Slater.  It has a cult folllowing.  No one just likes NPR.  If they like it, they LOVE it.

Aubrey: First,  Christian Slater is all over NPR.  Second, so is murder.  Third, with a weekly audience to NPR stations at 34 million I’m not sure “cult” is the right word.  You mean a large group of enthusiastic and incredibly loyal followers.  Yes, I’m sure that’s what you mean. Read more

Radiolab: “Words” the Videos

Every now and again I feel compelled by some kind of video or piece of music.  Compelled and perhaps doomed to listen or watch on repeat.  I then make other people put them on repeat, too.  This is probably some kind of sickness [thanks, Dad] but I’d like to see it as critical thinking, a way to process the information until I feel comfortable.

When you work with video in the classroom, especially short video, sometimes you need to put it on “repeat” for students to understand.  It takes 2 times through sometimes, once for viewing and once for responding, to make meaning out of something that moves so quickly.

Yesterday’s post focused on how to use Radiolab’s episode “Words” for Socratic Seminar discussion.  But we don’t stop with the episode itself.  Oh, no.  It also includes the video entitled “Words” (go figure) by Everynone that was made to compliment it.

Original “Words”

Have students watch the film once just to “blow their minds.” Read more

Radiolab: “Words”

As English teachers we deal in words.  Every day I want more words, better words, more meaningful words. I want my students to feel the same way.  I want them to linger over Hemingway’s use of the word “nada” in “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” and pour over all the description of the “courtesy bay” between Fitzgerald’s dashes.

It’s not that simple.

While you can teach a series of pieces that talk about the significance of words and writing (William Hazlitt’s “On Familiar Style,” “Why I Write” by Joan Didion, “Politics and the English Language,“ by George Orwell or Stephen King’s On Writing) students still struggle to synthesize the importance and effect of language.

Enter Radiolab and the program entitled “Words.”   It’s a different angle from which to teach language.  All three stories discuss, in essence, worlds either without language or with developing language.  Whereas my desire is to throw as much language at a student as possible, this program begins with the following premise:  Do words change the world?  Literally.  Does having language change our experience, understanding, and ability to think?

The program is composed of three segments.  Each one is detailed below.   You might choose only one or assign one for homework.  They are powerful, and if you decide to use them, you will want to be able to enjoy the discussion that comes after “collectively” listening together.

I’ve offered questions to have students write/discuss.  A Socratic Seminar using these podcasts as the basis would be perfect. The questions provided could be a starting point. Read more

Radiolab: Media Literacy and Listening Skills

One of the best ways to employ Radiolab in the classroom is to treat it as a text.  The difficulty?  This text requires students to listen and respond without visuals.  This means a bit of explanation and modeling upfront.

A good opener is a Ted talk by Julian Treasure: 5 Ways to Listen Better.  In under eight minutes Treasure highlights the value of listening and skills to become better listeners.

During the video, have students watch, listen, and take notes on the following questions:

  • Identify two of Treasure’s arguments about modern society and listening.
  • List two things Treasure identifies as making listening difficult.
  • List the ways in which Treasure claims we can become better listeners.

After the video, have students examine Treasure’s arguments again.  Now, have them evaluate via writing and then discussion the validity of these arguments. Read more

Radiolab: Overview

 

On a Sunday night several years ago, I was held captive by an episode of Radiolab.  The episode, which examines “the line between music and language,” has a particularly engrossing segment about Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

Within the segment hosts Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad discuss how The Rite of Spring changes in the span of 30 years from a piece that causes audiences to riot, to an accepted form of classical music, to the score for Fantasia.  It’s at that moment that you can clearly see multiple overlapping arguments about society, the role of music, the passage of time, etc. Read more