Podcast Recommendations (assignment)

I offered an extensions-of-learning assignment this first week of distance learning for my students, and I thought perhaps other teachers or readers would be interested in some of these as well. In case you want to borrow the whole thing, I’m posting the assignment with podcast recommendations just as I put it up on Canvas last night. Without further ado…

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Each week, a learning extension in my class will be to take a walk and listen to a podcast. The podcast should be entertaining and should teach you something (these are my favorite kind – no surprise there).

You don’t have to create an official response. Just listen. Enjoy. If you’ve never listened to something that taught you something that you also liked, now’s there’s plenty of time to allow yourself to try this new thing. Just be ready to tell me what you listened to and whether or not you liked it – mostly because I’ll just be curious.

I’d recommend checking out the following… (and while all of these can be streamed from your computer, they can also be discovered via any podcast listening application on your handheld device or ipad, if that’s a thing for you).


Podcast Name & Link What it’s about Dryness Level
1619 I haven’t listened to it yet, but it’s a New York Times produced podcast about slavery as an American institution. It’s on my short list. ?
Revolutions Each “Season” of this show focuses on a different revolution. I’d suggest starting with the American revolution (season 2, labeled with a 2.x), as it helps to have a basic idea of what went down when we get into a podcast like this one. 6-7
The History of Rome This one starts out particularly dry, and… it stays fairly dry. Mike’s dry sense of humor is great, and it’s where I learned to love history (no kidding). It’s my favorite podcast of all time. I’ve listened to all 170-something episodes four or five times through. 8
The Fall of Rome Podcast Puts the fall of Rome into perspective from the point of view of a common soldier, at least for the first several episodes. Requires a basic understanding about East and West, and I’m happy to provide that (with videos or by talking) if you listen to this and are interested in more. 7
Lectures in History (find it in the linked list) Good lord, this is dry… but it’s the real deal. History professors discussing everything from World War 2 to the Teapot Dome Scandal to early American elections. It’s amazing and sleep-inducing. 10
Moonrise About the Space Race. Yay! Not dry. Washington Post produced. 1
The Martyrmade Podcast Not dry, but heavy on the details. PG13, but my kids listen to it with me. 5
The Civil War (1861-1865): A History Podcast Guess how many episodes there are? Way too many… under normal circumstances… I haven’t actually heard this, but it comes highly recommended as the go-to for Civil War podcast listening. ?
Serial It’s the one your parents listen to, but it’s really quite good. Season 1 was about a murder mystery and a (possibly? maybe?) wrongly accused teen. Season 2 was about a supposed flight-from-duty in Afghanistan. Season 3 (my fave) was about the messed up criminal justice system as seen through the eyes of several accused people in Ohio. This podcast wins awards because it’s truly great. 1
99% Invisible Great podcast about the hidden designs behind everything from (Cold War Era) East Berlin escape tunnels to modern city planning and airports. 2
Fall of Civilizations Podcast A podcast about what we know about civilizations that have fallen. 5
Tides of History I have only heard one or two of these, but I trust the author/podcaster. He’s a deep-diving historian who makes big ideas pretty manageable. Check it out! 6
Our Fake History Cool, listenable takes on things that “our teachers told us were true but aren’t”. I like the stuff about pirates. 3
American History Tellers High production quality on a variety of subjects, giving personal views from everyday Americans – everything from American political parties to the Space Race or the founding of our National Parks. 4
Throughline NPR’s history podcast. Variety of topics, easily digestable. Pick one that sounds interesting from its description. 4
Spycast Short-ish episodes about tales from the lives of spies and those working in the profession of espionage. Not always as thrilling as they should be, but there’s a lot of good stuff on this podcast. I’ve listened to maybe 30 episodes and haven’t regretted any of it. 3
Planet Money I would put this at a 2 dryness, except that they sometimes investigate topics that are heavy enough to push it up to a 3 or 4. Find the episodes about recycling, garbage, a t-shirt, or specific questions about odd things to find those lovable 2-level-dryness episodes. Amazing show, actually. Go WAY back to the beginning if you want to know all the deetz about the 2008-2009 financial collapse. 4
10 American Presidents Podcast Easy to listen to series of long-form podcasts about various important presidents in U.S. history – high production value. Oh yeah, and these are narrated by the other “best ever” podcasters and historians (Dan Carlin, Mike Duncan, etc.). 3
When Diplomacy Fails Podcast Low production value but well researched analysis of what has led to various wars in history. 8
LeVar Burton Reads This is a storytelling podcast – it’s great! Your parents probably watched Reading Rainbow on PBS when they were growing up. This is that guy – reading grownup short stories rather than kids picture books. 1
What’s The Point Statistics applied to the real world and explained. It’s great! 9
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect Series of episodes about some of the most important Supreme Court cases in history. They put the cases in context. 4
The Habitat People go inside a habitat (as Ms. Hori did in December) – but for a year! Decent podcast. 1
Slow Burn: A Podcast About Watergate I love this one, but I’m into political history. You may know nothing about Watergate, and you may know something about it… here you’ll learn more. 3
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History Extremely long-form podcasts (the series run 3-5 episodes of 3-5 hours apiece). Dan is a legend in the history podcasting world (take that for what it’s worth). My favorites are about World War 1. PG-13, perhaps bordering on R-rating, but my kids listen to this with me, and I’ve played samples of this stuff for you in class before – I’d say that it’s graphic in honest description (first-hand accounts are pretty scary, honestly) without being gratuitous (the graphic descriptions are not there to shock and tantalize), so I’d be willing to defend its educational value to the very death. This is my number one go-to podcast after Mike Duncan’s Revolutions and History of Rome pods. 4




Any recommendations you’d add that qualify as educational and entertaining?

About Steve Capone

Writer hailing from Salt Lake City, Utah. Interdisciplinary teacher (read: generalist guiding inquiry) at an independent school. Adjunct instructor at a medium sized state school. Lover of learning. Favorite destination: Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Germany. @CaponeTeaches on Twitter M.S. Philosophy (Univ. of Utah 2013) M.A. Humanities (Univ. of Chicago 2007) B.A. Philosophy & English (Washington & Jefferson College 2006
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