English teachers create podcast to enhance learning

by Sofia Colignon | staff writer

English teachers Daniel Farias and Julia Whitfield have decided to create a podcast of their own for their AP English IV students.  Called the “The Sieve,” each episode is an extension of a topic discussed in class.

“I hope that this kinda models what they might expect in a college setting, like how class conversations may go for that, and also just to show folks that we talk about these things in English class, but that doesn’t mean you’re never going to think about them again. We want to show them that English is part of the humanities, we’re humans: it affects all of us, all the time. Even reading a little book in class can actually have a bigger impact on yourself,” Whitfield said.

“The Sieve” is an allusion to the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It has to do with the main character, Montag, trying to remember things and sifting through what he needs to know and what he doesn’t.

“In the book, [the author] talks about sifting sand through the sieve, so we used it as a metaphor for sifting through ideas, questions, and research in literature, and figuring out how students think and feel about what they’re reading and writing about,” Farias said.

Both teachers say their students were actually the ones who inspired them to start recording these podcasts.

“A lot of people told Mr. F and I ‘You guys have some pretty interesting conversations sometimes, so maybe you should do something so that more people can listen’, so that’s kinda where we’ve been working from,” Whitfield said.

Students aren’t required to listen to the podcast for class, but it is designed to be a useful tool to gain a better understanding of it.

“It’s an extension of our classroom, but it’s also kind of separate from it. If a student doesn’t listen to the podcast, they’re not going to be missing out on content, or material in the class: it’s only going to enhance and enrich the experience that they’re having in the classroom,” Farias said.

They started recording in December, and they’re being hosted through Soundcloud, and available on iTunes as well.

“Right now, we’re just talking about [the seniors], because Mr. F and I both teach the AP Dual Credit kids, so we are starting with them, but I have people like my friends, who aren’t in my classes, that listen to it and they’re like ‘Oh, this is so cool!’ so, we’re starting with just the seniors, but maybe that would be a good goal: we should branch out to our other levels that we teach and schoolwide sort of subject matter and I also wanna get some more teachers involved,” Whitfield said.

The teachers hope to expand enough so that they’re able to create a website and host from their own page.

“We hope to create a website around the podcast, so right now we’re hosted through Soundcloud and we’re available on iTunes as well, so we’re hoping to build kinda like an online community, where we can maybe have discussions, and students can interact with the platforms that we have available,” Farias said.

They are trying to make this possible by selling T-shirts senior Jacob Nemeth helped them design.

“We’re trying to make enough money to buy our own website, and host from [it], which again, is kinda like, I’m learning to do it as we go, and it’s a little expensive, so one of my students, Jacob, he sold T-shirts before, and he actually made Mr. F and I T-shirts just for fun, as a gift, cause he was like ‘Oh, this is really cool’, and then a lot of other students were like ‘Those are neat, we would wear those’ and so Jacob’s selling them for us, so it’s actually through Jacob. We have T-shirts for sale, they’re $20, they’re comfort-colors” Whitfield said.

Some other goals include doing a liveshow at the end of the school year and inviting as many people as possible.

“We were talking about, at the end of the year, doing a liveshow or two, with our students, and maybe go to the auditorium, and then record it, and then other students can be a part of it, come up and ask questions; I thought that’d be a cool end of the school year sort of thing, so hopefully we can get that together,” Whitfield said.

The teachers also enjoy listening to different podcasts on their free time.

“I listen to the Daily from the New York Times, and it kinda takes an issue and it dives into it in depth, and it’s a daily podcast, so it’s available everyday, I listen to it on my way driving to work, the time to focus and listen. I also like “Awards Chatter” which is another podcast by the Hollywood reporters; they interview actors and artists and musicians and they talk about their work, and their lives and their inspirations for what they do,” Farias said.

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