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Tracy Tensen


National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)



Gilbert, IA
English Instructor

"It’s important to stay current and ReadWriteThink.org makes it possible!"

Tracy Tensen's Story
Podcast Newbie Visits RWT

As someone who needs regular assistance with the school website, I think it is brave that my most current technology-related project involves creating podcasts. My English 12 students and I have taken on Sarah Koenig’s SERIAL. In the Peabody award-winning podcast, Koenig explores a crime committed 15 years ago as well as the flaws in the trial. I found and purchased a large series of lesson plans online, but now I have also found fantastic free resources on RWT! Two of these have come from Traci Gardner, and, as someone interested in educational research,

I have to admit I especially like the “From Theory to Practice” section of Gardner’s RWT lesson plans. In “Audio Broadcasts and Podcasts: Oral Storytelling and Dramatization” Gardner writes about the necessity of students reflecting on and writing about audio literacy practices: “To explore these connections between listeners and those who compose audio media… students (must) make personal connections to consider the connections that others make. Based on this understanding, students then compose their own audio stories, in order to investigate more fully how audio composers connect with their listeners.” I feel this absolutely validates the importance of examining what we listen to and how, as well as putting this into practice with the creation of student products. This encourages me about my choice to use SERIAL: as it is so different from the audio material most students are listening to, it offers an intellectual but high interest experience with which they can compare their more typical listening fare. It invites an exploration of a type of media that is, for most of them, unfamiliar.

Also useful to my audio endeavor has been her lesson plan entitled “How to Record Podcasts.” When I began the unit, one of my main goals was to have students eventually create their own investigative podcast—complete with musical segues, interesting interviews, and effective storytelling strategies. I was not sure I could pull it off! Fortunately, Gardner’s RWT lesson has been extremely helpful. Her instructions about how to help students create podcasts are clear, and her web sources are a great starting point.

I can’t wait to hear their final products—after listening their early versions, I know I will continue to use these fresh audio creations in the future. It’s important to stay current and RWT makes it possible!


I am an English instructor at Gilbert High School in Gilbert, Iowa. I have taught high school for twenty-three years in various Iowa schools. I've also taught Composition at Des Moines Area Community College as an adjunct instructor.