Why The Radio?

This year, the Grade 6’s had the privilege of recording regular radio shows on 105 the Hive. It all started with a discussion at ECOO (an educational computing conference) and took off from there. This week, I was planning with some teachers for next year, and we started talking about this online radio show. The question became, if our school data shows us that students’ oral language skills are some of their strongest skills, then why is this radio show beneficial? 

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • There’s always value in using areas of strength to develop weaker skills. If students are stronger orally, then let them discuss their thinking out loud, and use what they discussed for their writing. We did this a lot with our Multiple Choice Mondays Reading Comprehension Radio Shows. Students would even discuss ideas for short answer questions, and then after the radio show was done, they’d use the ideas they brainstormed together to write a short answer response. For me, this is teaching with success in mind.
  • Differentiated instruction is so important. There are students that cannot get their thinking down in writing, but they can discuss it orally. While the goal is to develop written language skills, and this happened for most students, is this a reasonable goal for everyone to be at the same level in writing? If students can access and work with grade level material if it’s available and used in a different format, then I think they should be able to do so. A student actually reminded me of this not that long ago.
  • Oral language is not just about talking, it’s also about listening. While many of the students at our school seem to have stronger oral skills than written ones, this does not necessarily transfer to their listening skills. Over the years, data has shown us that students have difficulty following instructions: these are both oral ones and written ones. The radio show helps students develop these listening skills, as they need to be “active listeners” to respond either online (in our Today’sMeet Room or on Twitter) or in person (during the radio broadcast). Throughout the year, I’ve noticed that my students have become much better listeners as a result: they are replying directly to what other students are saying and contributing different information than their peers. 
  • It allows for parent engagement. Many of my parents are listening to our weekly radio broadcasts, and even communicating with our classes about them through emails or through Twitter. By listening along, the parents are also reviewing this curriculum content at home with their children. Regular review of classroom material helps the students understand it better, which benefits them academically.

I thank this teacher for asking an important question and really making me reflect on my teaching practices. Looking at what I’ve shared here and thinking about the positive differences I’ve noticed in my students, I will definitely use 105 the Hive next year in my classroom program.

What are some of the benefits you see the broadcasting learning on an Internet radio station? What might be some of the drawbacks? I would love to hear your thinking!


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