Teachers have been using CraftLit®, Just-the-Books, and Chop Bard podcasts to help them Flip Teach since before there was a term for it.
TED-ed’s site has created a great way for teachers to build their own flips (and were I still in the classroom I would be utilizing my entire summer to build flips with their video vault). But what if you don’t have time?
With podcasts you run the risk of “you get what you pay for”—there’s zero quality control, the hosts are often untrained in speaking and may or may not have professional-grade recording equipment. If you’re an early adopter of a show you’re likely to listen to quite a bit of talk about the process of podcasting as well as getting the content for which you’re looking.
How do I know?
Because I went through that arc myself. While I majored in theater and worked in Hollywood (before running away to teach English) the process of podcasting and the needs of my audience were things I didn’t come to the task already knowing. After seven years, 300+ episodes, and 17 classic novels completed, I have a better idea of what I’m doing.
And as a former English teacher I know what it’s worth.
Spread the word—free student content, for you!
Teaching classic fiction or Shakespeare in your class next year? Have the kids stick a book in their ear every night so you can do the important work—the writing, researching, revising, editing—in class.
If you find yourself at the start of the year being told that your entire planned-for schedule of classes has been altered (ask me how I know this happens) then be calm knowing that you now have at least 17 books and 6 Shakespeare plays to draw on—with more coming all the time.
CraftLit invented the Audiobook with Benefits™ model where the host curates the next chapter, plays audio of the chapter, and ties up loose ends after the chapter during each episode. Chop Bard works slightly differently where Ehren Zeigler curates the next act or scene in the play, reads some of the critical (or confusing) bits, elaborates on the importance of or connections to history, and generally entertains the masses.
How can you use the podcasts to your advantage? Two ways:
- You can listen to them yourself so you can prep while you’re commuting;
- You can give the link to the kiddies so they can listen and read in the book at home, leaving you class time to work on writing and other, more important things.
If you go the second route, you have a few advantages beyond the class time you save:
- ESL students—students who often stay silent in class and don’t ask questions, but leave confused can listen to episodes over and over and over again without anyone knowing. If they have the text in front of them, some sticky notes, and the book in their ear, they’ll be more prepared than anyone the next day;
- Multiple Intelligences—some students need to access texts in multiple ways. By giving them a paper copy of the book and having them them follow along with the audiobook in their ear, you have a better chance of the text “sticking.” Add in sticky notes or Quotes/Notes/Thoughts note-taking grids and you’ll have accessed three different avenues into their brains;
- Shift in classroom focus—if the students are doing the reading outside of class, then in class you’ll be able to focus them on research, writing, revising, and editing. If texts take up too much of a class period, then you never have time to get to the critical thinking and writing skills that employers say young adults lack. But if they don’t read the books, then they lose an important mass of “shorthand” that adults use without noticing in conversation, at parties, and in meetings. Everyone before them read these books, if the students today don’t too, then they look ignorant to potential employers and lose out—not to mention they miss reading some really great books;
- Higher-order discussions—if you don’t have to spend your days explaining to students what happened in the book, then you can get into higher-order analysis and evaluation. You can actually get to “the good stuff” and have a whole period for it.
Now you don’t have to choose between reading and discussion and writing.
The current episode/book list follows (with links to the CraftLit versions). CraftLit shownotes include a timecode indicating what time the book talk begins so crafty chat can be fast forwarded through. Some of these books are also available on the sister show, Just-the-Books—all the lit, none of the craft. Some books have been repackaged into downloadable audiobooks or, in the case of books like The Great Gatsby which aren’t in the public domain yet, are available in “just the benefits” versions (no book audio, just intro and exit discussions for each chapter).
If you would like to request a book, please let me know in the comments.
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
by Mark Twain. A satiric look at big-headed 19th Century Americans—and what can be learned from King Arthur and his chivalrous knights. The shockingly prescient ending is well worth the wait. Project Gutenberg text
- A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens. I loathed this book in high school (you too?) but Julie at Forgotten Classics threw down the gauntlet and thank goodness she did. It’s not the book you think. And those last 15 minutes are a weep-fest. Project Gutenberg Text
by Bram Stoker. The famous start to the modern vampire craze—and a surprisingly modern story itself. No sparkly vampires here. Project Gutenberg text
by Edwin Abbott Abbott. On the surface, a book about geometry. Inside its dimensions, it’s a satiric look at 19th Century class structure and gender relations. Project Gutenberg text
by Mary Shelley. If you’ve seen Young Frankenstein, you’ll be surprised. If you’ve seen Frankenstein you’ll wonder where it came from. No matter what, this book will surprise (and haunt) you. Project Gutenberg text
- Gulliver’s Travels
by Jonathan Swift. If you ever wondered why we call lousy politicians “yahoos,” you’ll find out when you listen to this book. It’s a lot more than the Liliputians. Project Gutenberg text
- Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Brontë. A far less dour—and a far more modern—heroine than you might think inhabits this book. Jane Eyre (and her shawl) might just surprise you. Project Gutenberg text Reader Elizabeth Klett
- Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott. It’s interesting to think that Jo, one of the original “uppity women,” has been the most popular character in the book for longer than uppity women have been in vogue. Says something about our view of olden times. Project Gutenberg text
by Jane Austen. If you skipped this book before, don’t skip it now. More mature and thoughtful, in many ways, than P&P, but still full of Austen’s wry humor and insight. Project Gutenberg text
- Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen. Perhaps the first real “chick lit,” P&Ps Elizabeth and Darcy remain one of our more enduring couples, but Darcy isn’t really the block of wood we’ve come to expect. Project Gutenberg text
- Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Drug induced? Maybe, but a fine, fine poem nonetheless and the source of so many well-worn phrases (“water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink”). Project Gutenberg text
- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
by Washington Irving. An early-American romp through the Hudson River Valley, drawn from German legends. Both creepier and funnier than you might think. Project Gutenberg text
- The Mysterious Case of Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson. Pea-soup-thick fog and creepy alter-egos are only a small part of this brief but haunting tale. Project Gutenberg text
- The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne. When you get into the first few chapters you’ll know why Hawthorne changed the spelling of his family name to distance himself from his Salem “hanging judge” ancestors. You’ll also be surprised at how strong Hester Prynne is. Project Gutenberg text
- The Woman in White
by Wilkie Collins. The best book you never heard of. You’ll have to look long and hard to find a stronger female character than Marian Halcombe—and to find a more interesting author. Project Gutenberg text
- Tristan and Isolde
trans. Joseph Bdier. Melodrama, sure. But really great melodrama that so, so many stories are based on.
- Turn of the Screw
by Henry James. Creepy houses, weird histories, possessed children, governesses gone awry… what’s not to love?