Media and Communications, Social Studies
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Middle School
  • #uol
  • Lesson Plan
  • podcasting
  • soundz
  • soundzabound
  • uol
  • uolela
  • uollesson
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:

    Education Standards

    Create a Podcast About Your NHD Project

    Create a Podcast About Your NHD Project


    This lesson plan will help students learn how create a podcast about their topic for National History Day, incorporating music clips found on Soundzabound from Utah's Online School Library.

    Image by: Internet Archive Book Images. Modified by CC BY-SA 4.0


    This lesson will show students how to record a podcast for their National History Day project using Voice Memo and add music from Soundzabout. Students will then edit the sound files together using Audacity to create a finished product.

    • Time: 60 minutes
    • Format: Face to face


    Background for Teachers

    Before teaching this lesson, you will need an understanding of recording software, like voice memo and sound mixing software such as audacity. You will also need to be familiar with Soundzabound from UEN. 

    The following resources can help you become familiar with these tools:

    Voice Memo Tutorial

    Audacity Tutorial

    Soundzabound Tutorial



    Step 1 - Goals and Outcomes


    Students will be able to: 

    • Practice listening skills, writing and speaking
    • Evaluate examples of podcasts
    • Engage in close reading of a media text
    • Learn how to record voice over segments and mix them with music to create a cohesive, finished product


    • Students will create a one-minute podcast about their National History Day topic, incorporating background music.


    Step 2 - Planning Instruction


    Student Background Knowledge

    Prior to this lesson, students will have finished their National History Day essays on their topic of choice. This essay will serve as the source material for the podcast. 

    Strategies for Diverse Learners

    • Project based assessment
    • Collaboration between students


    Step 3 - Instruction


    Elements of Podcasts

    Poll the class to see how many students are familiar with podcasts. If any students are, ask them to share their favorites. What did they enjoy about the podcasts they mentioned? What were the subjects? What elements of the podcasts do they remember: the interviews, conversations, music, sound effects or anything else?

    Next, while listening to each of these three short podcast excerpts (between one and three minutes), students should take notes using this notetaking sheet on both the episode topic (what is being said or discussed) and the production elements (the various aspects of the podcast that create the listening experience).

    • Modern Love “R We D8ting? | With Krysten Ritter” (Segment: 1:00 - 3:16)
    • The Daily “The Right to Bear Arms” (Segment: 0:00 - 2:36)
    • Still Processing “Take a Knee if You Agree” (Segment: 0:00 - 1:27)

    After you listen to all three excerpts, share as a class. What did students notice about the subject matter? What did they notice about the formatting and techniques used within the podcast? How were the three podcast excerpts similar? How were they different?

    Now we will record segments from your National History Day essays.

    Using an iPad or Smartphone to Record

    Make sure everyone is familiar with these basics:

    • First, iPads and/or smartphones will need to have a sound recording app. On Android, students can download a free voice recording app like “RecForge II” or “Audio Recorder.” For iPhones and iPads, in the extras folder, find the “Voice Memos” app.
    • Make sure students know where the microphone is on their phones.
    • Ask students to spread out and find a reasonably quiet space.
    • To begin recording, start by pressing the “Record” button or a red square. To finish, press the same button again.
    • Make sure to position the microphone about six inches away from the side of your subject’s mouth.
    • Check your audio, preferably with a pair of headphones. It should be free of background sound and loud enough to hear, but not so loud that it crackles. Record for 10 seconds and then play it back; adjust microphone position based on volume.
    • After you finish, make sure to enter a title for the recording and save it.
    • To get the file to your computer so you can edit it later on, use AirDrop, Bluetooth transfer, email or Google Drive upload.

    Activity: Recording Segments

    Working with a partner, students should take turns recording segments of their script. Don't say the entire script in one go. Practice reading the segments until you record them without mistakes. Aim to get at least three minutes of recording. 

    After they finish recording their segments, they should make sure their sound files are good quality and saved.

    Ask students to listen to their recordings from the previous day using headphones. While they listen, they should write an outline of the recording, like this transcript from the Invisibilia podcast they already listened to. Since their outlines won’t be published, students don’t need to write down everything word for word and they can use plenty of ellipses or shorthand notes. These outlines will be helpful during the editing process. You may need to model for students how to make a very rough transcript or outline efficiently.

    Students will use these sound recordings to practice using editing software.

    Mini Lesson: Editing Software

    Basics of audio editing to go over with students:

    1. Students will need sound files to edit. They can upload them from their recording devices, they can upload audio files from online or they can use the editing software to record new sound files.
    2. The “cut” or “split” tool enables students to splice one audio segment into two or more segments.
    3. The “delete” tool enables students to get rid of any audio segments they don’t want.
    4. The dragging and moving function allows students to reposition audio segments where they want them. Typically students will use the mouse as a cursor to drag and move content.
    5. The timeline ruler or grid is the tool that measures the audio. Students use the timeline to assemble various audio segments into one project.
    6. Tracks are layers of sound. Podcasts often have multiple tracks of audio playing simultaneously, such as music or sound effects played over spoken word. Students can align the various tracks using the timeline.
    7. Volume can be adjusted in each audio segment. Students can also add effects, such as fade in or fade out.
    8. “Save” and “Export” are important functions. Students must remember to save their work, and they will most likely want to export their project when they are done.

    Mini Lesson: How to Use Soundzabound to Add Music to their Podcast

    Show this video about how to use Soundzabound.

    • Have students log into Utah's Online School Library.
    • Click on High School, and scroll all the way down to Soundzabound.
    • Using the search feature or Media Type, students can find the perfect clip to go with their podcast.
    • Download the clip or clips they want and then upload the clips into Audacity.
    • Tell students they can add music as an intro or outro, or adjust the clip so it plays quietly under their voice. 

    Activity: One-Minute Podcasts

    Students should take their three-minute recorded segments and turn them into one-minute audio stories. They may splice out parts of answers or move around sections; they may add additional narration or sound effects. They must incorporate music clips from Soundzabound.

    Wrap Up

    Have a podcast listening party and play each student group's podcast.

    Step 4 - Assessments


    The summative assessment for this lesson will be the finished podcast project.

    Formative assessments during the lesson include:

    • Podcast listening worksheet
    • Small group conversations about the podcast examples
    • Three-minute student created podcast clips