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Lesson Plan

Giving Voice to Students Through "This I Believe" Podcasts

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Giving Voice to Students Through "This I Believe" Podcasts

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Ten 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Krista Sherman

Mason, Michigan


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology






  • Computers with Internet access

  • Speakers, microphone, and headphones (optional)

  • LCD projector (optional)

  • Digital voice recording software, such as Audacity

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1. This lesson is designed for use with students who have disabilities. Modifications for use in an integrated classroom are included at the end of each session. The lesson also includes suggested alternatives for students whose parents do not permit them to post to a class blog (see Session 6 to 9).

2. Begin by visiting the This I Believe, Inc. website and reading through it to understand the format and history of these audio essays. You should select three or four essays to share with your students (see Session 4); you can find them either by visiting the Essays New and Old page or the Search Essay Database page. In addition, visit the Basic English webpage and choose three or four essays to share with students during Session 5. Ideally, you will share these essays by playing the audio versions on a classroom or lab computer that has speakers; you may also choose to print the essays and make copies for your students.

3. From the This I Believe in the Classroom page, click on the Download Curriculum link and print the PDF file. You will need a copy of page 21, which is titled “Things I Have Learned About Life,” for each student in your class.

4. Check with your school’s Internet policies to ensure that you and your students can view and post to a blog and so that you are familiar with any rules or restrictions on use. Use a site like Edublogs or Blogger to set up a classroom blog that students will use to post their podcasts and comment on each other’s work. (Both sites allow you to create blogs that only invited members can view.)

5. Print off the Creating, Editing, and Posting Podcasts handout and review it. Arrange to use recording software such as Audacity, which can be downloaded for free. (See Judge Memorial Catholic High School: Audacity Tutorials or Audacity: Tutorials for tips on its use.) You may want to create your own essay and use it to practice recording a podcast and posting it to the blog. To record, you will need a microphone, either one that plugs in or is built into your computer.

6. You will need at least one computer with Internet access to share and record essays (see Sessions 4 through 9). In addition, it is best for students to use computers to draft their essays during Session 5 and to comment on each other’s work during Session 10. If necessary, arrange to use your school’s computer lab during these sessions.

7. You will use the following statements during Session 1:
  • I like having a disability.

  • My friends know I have a disability

  • I tell others about my disability

  • I hate being in special education classes

  • Having a disability will impact my life after I graduate
You may choose to write them on a piece of chart paper or on the board. Cover the statements with a large piece of paper, revealing them to students as you read them.

8. Print off and make copies of The Top 10 Lessons I Learned From Charlie Brown, Two Belief Statements, and the Blog Permission Slip for each student in your class. Make one copy of the Five Belief Topics handout for every two students in your class; these can be cut in two.

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