The Podcast Project

I recently started a unit on Current Events with my 11s. Here’s the current plan.

I’m using the 2018 Great Decisions briefing book from the Foreign Policy Association as the foundation, digging into one topic at a time.

The idea here is that the issues addressed in the briefing book undergird so much of what we see and hear in the news every day, so rather than chase the daily news cycle, we’ll build a foundation using this incredibly thorough and credible resource.

As an aside, not sure if others have found this to be true, but resource quality is at the core of learning. The recent moves we’ve made (some of us) toward personalized and student-centered learning has caused me to shift my practice in many ways. One thing (among many) that I’ve found is that when I ’empower’ students to do their own research and find their own guiding resources to fuel their learning, very little meaningful learning happens. Curating high quality resources that allow for in-depth exploration of big ideas is vital.


Because I utilize a Challenge Based Learning approach to teaching and learning, the plan is to treat each topic as a separate mini challenge, each of them building to support the overarching challenge for the entire unit.

So, our first topic is the first article in the briefing book, “The waning of Pax Americana”. The challenge we’ve built around this is defined by the following:

Big Idea = American Leadership
Essential Question = Is it time for Pax Americana to end?
Challenge = Debate American International Leadership

From here, we’ll move on to 3 other topics (though there are 8 articles in the briefing book, we’re only covering half of them) – I’ll let students choose the ones that seem most interesting to them – and build mini challenges around each as a way to develop the in-depth understanding about US Foreign Policy students will need.

Podcast Challenge

The overarching challenge we’re building toward is to create a podcast episode on one of the topics we study. After exploring each, and completing each of the mini challenges, their job will be to decide which topic they want to explore in more depth, and then plan and produce a podcast episode.

And, to make things interesting, we’ll be submitting their podcast episodes for consideration in NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge.

We’re in the early stages still, with loads of time to further develop and tweak the challenge, but I’m looking forward to the mess of learning. 🙂

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