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Lesson Plan

Audio Listening Practices: Exploring Personal Experiences with Audio Texts

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Audio Listening Practices: Exploring Personal Experiences with Audio Texts

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One

Between Sessions

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Session Five


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • record details on their daily experiences with audio texts.

  • identify key findings in their listening experiences.

  • compare their listening practices to those of other Americans.

  • draw conclusions about their audio literacy skills.

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Session One

  1. If possible, open this lesson by playing a radio in the classroom as students enter. Choose a popular, mainstream station that will appeal to a number of students in the class.

  2. With the radio playing, pass out copies of the Listening Survey.

  3. After students have had time to respond to the survey, ask them to share their thoughts, as a whole class or in small groups.

  4. Encourage students to find patterns in their comments. The following questions can begin discussion:

    • What similarities do see in when you listen to radio, CDs, and/or MP3s?

    • How many different kinds of audio does the class listen to?

    • Do class members listen primarily to music? What else do they listen to?
  5. Collect the completed Listening Surveys. Explain that you'll return them to students later in the unit to compare to their other findings.

  6. Pass out the Listening Diary. Explain that students will keep a diary of their listening for a week to become aware of their listening practices and how they compare to those of others.

  7. Discuss how to complete the diary, using the Sample Listening Diary or filling in a blank form for your own radio listening.

  8. Answer any questions that students have about the activity. Begin the recording activity, by filling out the diary for the radio program listened to at the beginning of the class session.

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Between Sessions

  1. Over the course of the next week, students will be keeping diary entries.

  2. Continue with whatever curriculum you have planned. The following activities provide options that can be connected to the audio project students are completing:

    • If texts that include radio in a significant way are part of your readings, they would make excellent study for the intervening week. The following texts include radio in some way:

      • Seek by Paul Fleishmann

      • The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest Gaines

      • The Voice on the Radio by Caroline B. Cooney

      • “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates

      • “Why I Live at the P.O.” by Eudora Welty

      • “The Enormous Radio” by John Cheever

      • “The Nun, the Gambler and the Radio,” by Ernest Hemingway

      • “Meridian” and Ancestors by Kamau Brathwaite

      • “Who Goes There” by John Campbell

      • Radio” by Laurel Blossom

    • Alternatively, you can consider texts that explore other recorded music and musicians, such as the following:

      • Pepperland by Mark Delaney

      • Heavy Metal And You by Chris Krovatin

      • Pop Princess by Rachel Cohn

      • Rock Star Superstar by Blake Nelson

      • Guitar Girl by Sarra Manning

      • She's Got the Beat by Nancy Krulik

    • You can also spend a day or more exploring references to radio in lyrics. An easy place to begin is “Video Killed the Radio Star” from The Age of Plastic by The Buggles. Once the topic is introduced, invite students to share other examples of lyrics that refer specifically to radio, and ask them to discuss how and why radio is mentioned in the song.

    • Another option is to talk about the parallels between passages in Feed by M. T. Anderson and popular radio. Candlewick Press provides a reader’s guide for the novel as well as the online essay, “Feed for Thought: M. T. Anderson’s Smart Savage Satire Takes on Consumerism.”

    • Woody Allen’s film Radio Days would also provide an interesting text for students to consider during the intervening week. Set in the 1940s, the movie weaves the episodes together with radio broadcasts of songs and focuses specific vignettes on radio itself. The significance of radio in the movie can be compared to the ways that radio influences students today.

    • For an Internet study of early radio broadcasting, try the Radio Days: A WebQuest and the American Memory Project's Recorded Sound Section—Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.
  3. If desired, for homework over the course of the week, you can assign the following prompts for journals, or assign prompts that fit more closely to the texts that you have chosen.

    • What is your favorite radio program or digital playlist? What do you like best about it?

    • What do you hear between the songs or shows? What is the purpose of the information do you hear between features on a station or podcast that you listen to?

    • How has what you hear on the radio, CD, MP3, or podcasts influenced you?

    • What memories do certain stations, DJs, playlists, and/or programs bring back?

    • If you could choose the best setting and situation to listen to your favorite program, CD, playlist, or MP3, what that setting and situation be?

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Session Two

  1. Once students have recorded at least a week’s audio listening, ask them to read through their diaries, noting anything that stands out to them. They might mark programs they particularly enjoyed (or disliked) or patterns they notice in their listening.

  2. After students have had time to review their diaries, ask them to share their thoughts, as a whole class or in small groups.

  3. Ask whether anyone in the class is familiar with Arbitron ratings. If so, allow students to share what they know, making notes on the board or on chart paper.

  4. For a basic description of the company and its work, you can share the Wikipedia description. Alternatively, you can gather information from About Arbitron page on the Arbitron site and share it with the class.

  5. Arrange students in small groups.

  6. Point students to the online copy of the How Kids and Tweens Use and Respond to Radio or pass out printed copies of the report. Alternatively, you can choose another of the many free reports from the Arbitron site, which includes Hispanic Radio Today 2008 Edition, Black Radio Today 2008, and Public Radio Today 2009. If desired, you can give each group a different report to explore.

  7. Focus students’ exploration on the specific findings and information from individual surveys. Skip past the more complex methodology pages, unless students are particularly interested. For the How Kids and Tweens Use and Respond to Radio report, scroll forward to the “Topline Findings,” which begin on page 6.

  8. In their groups, ask students to explore the report and find five facts from the report to share with the whole class. Encourage students to look for observations that surprise them or for details that seem to fit their local radio stations.

  9. Once students have had time to read and gather details from the report, gather the class as a whole group again.

  10. Ask each group to give some general details on what their report covered and to share the specific details that they discovered. Additionally, have each group explain why they chose the specific details that they did.

  11. Once all the groups have had the chance to share, pass out copies of the Research Implications of My Diary and the Listening Findings Rubric. Explain the assignment.

  12. Answer any questions that students have about the activity.

  13. Return students’ completed Listening Surveys, and ask students to compare their survey answers to the details in their surveys to begin their analysis process. Explain that, along with the examples from the Arbitron reports, the questions on the survey can help guide some of the observations that they look for in their own entries.

  14. For homework, ask students to begin compiling findings from the information in their diary entries.

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Session Three

  1. Invite students to share some of the findings that they have compiled for homework.

  2. If desired, students might first share their findings in small groups before choosing three or four findings in each group to share with the entire class.

  3. Using several of the findings that students or groups have shared with the class, demonstrate the ReadWriteThink Notetaker for the class. Be sure that you demonstrate how to complete each of the following tasks in the interactive:

    • Choose bullet format.

    • Create a main section and a subsection.

    • Indent and outdent sections.

    • Reorder information using the Up and Down arrows.

    • Use the Zoom buttons to navigate in the outline.

    • Save an HTML file from the Print window.

    • Print their finished work.
  4. Answer any questions that students have about the online tool and their assignment.

  5. Allow students the rest of the session to organize their findings, and create finished copies of their work using the ReadWriteThink Notetaker.

  6. Explain that students will complete peer review during the next session and will have time to revise before submitting their final version.

  7. Point to the Listening Findings Rubric and remind students of the criteria for the project.

  8. Ask students to come to the following session with the printout from the ReadWriteThink Notetaker and a draft of their final comments.

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Session Four

  1. Allow students a few minutes at the beginning of the session to make any last minute changes to their drafts.

  2. Arrange students in pairs or groups for peer review.

  3. Go over the criteria for the activity, using the Listening Findings Rubric.

  4. Pass out copies of Listening Findings Peer Review Form.

  5. Go over the Peer Review Form and show the connection between the questions on the form and the criteria on the rubric.

  6. Allow the rest of the class session for students to exchange their work and complete the peer review.

  7. With two or three minutes remaining in the session, bring the class together as a group and explain that students should work on their revisions for homework.

  8. Students will have time during the next session to make final changes and complete proofreading.

  9. Explain that finished work—diary entries, survey, bulleted list of findings, and final comment—is due at the end of the next session.

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Session Five

  1. Remind students of the criteria from the Listening Findings Rubric.

  2. Answer any questions that students have before releasing students to work on their final drafts.

  3. If students need a refresher, demonstrate the ReadWriteThink Notetaker as well as how students can open saved files from the previous session in a word processor or Web editor.

  4. Allow students the rest of the session to finish their projects. Encourage students to share their work and ask peers for help.

  5. Circulate through the class, providing feedback and assistance as appropriate.

  6. Ask students to submit all parts of the project—diary entries, survey, bulleted list of findings, and final comment—by the end of the session.

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  • Rather than working individually, students can compile findings in small groups. This process will involve more research and exploration of the data to find the similarities and trends among the collected data of all group members. Groups might create working drafts of their findings using the ReadWriteThink Notetaker. Student groups could publish their final findings using a PowerPoint slide show, which is presented to the whole class.

  • Modify the activity for use with younger students by asking family members to complete a listening diary as well. Students can then compare their own listening to that of other family members instead of (or in addition to) the Arbitron reports. You might also have students complete one family diary that covers the hours before and after school.

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  • Focus on observation and anecdotal note taking as students work on their projects to provide ongoing assessment of their progress. Observe students for their participation during the in-class sharing, writing, and peer review. Monitor students’ progress and process as they complete work on their findings and final comments.

  • Use the Listening Findings Rubric to assess all parts of the project—diary entries, survey, bulleted list of findings, and final comment.



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