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NEA News

Teachers Redesign Social Studies With Popular Podcast

In an age of quarantines and remote learning, The Missing Chapter podcast gives two educators another tool to keep innovating.
Phil Horender Phil Schoff
Canajoharie High School social studies teachers, Phil Horender and Phil Schoff, started "The Missing Chapter" podcast.
Published: 01/22/2021

Revolutions are a key component of the Global Studies curriculum that we teach. We experienced a revolution of our own 5 years ago, however, when we combined our Global I and Global II courses and redesigned our lessons into a collaborative, steam-lined, co-taught classroom. It allowed us, as educators, to maximize our strengths, rethink our priorities, and concentrate on the needs and demands of our students.

For our students, it meant a completely redesigned social studies experience, out of which, was developed the idea for a history-based podcast.

It seems as though the demands on teachers have been fairly consistent over the last few years. Incorporate technology more in the classroom, make learning fun, meaningful, and different. Develop lessons around students and the personal interests that they relate to.

In an age of quarantines and remote-learning, it has provided us with a unique tool to allow us to have “conversations” with students, even if we are not physically together and in the same classroom.

Many students are already listening to podcasts on various topics and because of the passion we have for history in our classroom, our students suggested we start one of our own and bring the excitement from our classroom into the headphones of our listeners. We have always wanted to progress as educators and improve from year to year, and we have always wanted to start a podcast, but having students take the initiative to ask us to do one was the inspiration to finally do it.

In October, we launched “The Missing Chapter,”  which has allowed us to share some of history’s most enjoyable and fascinating stories, breaking the mundane label that history has been given over the years. And in three months, we were astonished to see these incredible stories have reached national and international levels beyond our expectation.

Through the podcast, we have been able to expand our regular teaching day. Always feeling as though we were limited to a standard class time of 40 minutes, podcast episodes that elaborated on lessons and went in depth and delved deeper into specific topics, have been extremely rewarding and enjoyable, as well as a significant supplement for student growth that would not have been possible otherwise.

The Missing Chapter has featured numerous guests including co-workers from a wide array of subject areas. It has helped foster a sense of collaboration throughout our school, giving our colleagues the same feeling of pride that it has given us, as well as being a unifying factor across multiple disciplines. For those educators who would like to use certain episodes for material in the classroom, The Missing Chapter is not only accessible, but encourages those that have content or podcast-specific questions, to reach out via social media or email.

Each episode has a direct link for educators to use in their classrooms, specifically catering to any history-related topic. The Missing Chapter Podcast has also premiered new Podcast “Shorts”, which is an abbreviated version of a full episode, but with all of the interesting content.

The Missing Chapter Podcast is available on all major podcast providers including Anchor, Spotify, Apple, and Pandora. It is easily accessible and free to download and stream. We produce and release a new episode every Saturday morning and very often have students ready to discuss with us the storyline when we return to school on Monday. Indirectly, it has provided a valuable platform on which to connect with students of all backgrounds and learning levels.

As history teachers, The Missing Chapter Podcast creators understand the importance of the validity of the sources of information. Therefore, the stories on The Missing Chapter Podcast have all been vetted and the events that have myth or legend surrounding it, are transparently disclosed as such.

Because of the history background within the podcast, it’s recommended that whenever educators seek supplemental material, like podcasts, that they make sure that the podcast sourcing is reputable. For anyone interested in creating their own podcast, The Missing Chapter Podcast highly recommends using Anchor, an online podcast creator and distributor that makes it incredibly easy for amateurs and veterans alike.

Take your passion for education and reach listeners around the world!

Phil Horender and Phil Schoff teach Global Studies at Canajoharie High School in Canajoharie, New York.

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