Personal Science Story Podcasts: Enhancing Literacy and Science Content

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Frisch, J.K. (2018). Personal science story podcasts: Enhancing literacy and science content. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 3(2). Retrieved from

by Jennifer K. Frisch, University of Minnesota Duluth


Podcasts (like “You are Not So Smart”, “99% Invisible”, or “Radiolab”) are becoming a popular way to communicate about science. Podcasts often use personal stories to connect with listeners and engage empathy, which can be a key ingredient in communicating about science effectively. Why not have your students create their own podcasts? Personal science stories can be useful to students as they try to connect abstract science concepts with real life. These kinds of stories can also help pre-service elementary or secondary teachers as they work towards understanding how to connect science concepts, real life, and literacy. Podcasts can be powerful in teaching academic language in science because through producing a podcast, the student must write, speak, and listen, and think about how science is communicated. This paper describes the personal science podcast assignment that I have been using in my methods courses, including the literature base supporting it and the steps I take to support my teacher candidates in developing, writing, and sharing their own science story podcasts.

Innovations Journal articles, beyond each issue's featured article, are included with ASTE membership. If your membership is current please login at the upper right.

Become a member or renew your membership


Amicucci, A. N. (2014). How they really talk. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 57, 483-491.

Anthony, L. (2014). AntWordProfiler (Version 1.4.1) [Computer Software]. Tokyo, Japan: Waseda University. Retrieved from

Borgia, L. (2009). Enhanced vocabulary podcasts implementation in fifth grade classrooms. Reading Improvement, 46, 263-272.

Burmark, L. (2004). Visual presentations that prompt, flash & transform. Media and Methods, 40(6), 4-5.

Challinor, J., Marín, V. I., & Tur, G. (2017). The development of the reflective practitioner through digital storytelling. International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning9, 186-203.

Couldry, N. (2008). Mediatization or mediation? Alternative understandings of the emergent space of digital storytelling. New Media & Society, 10, 373-391.

Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34, 213-238.

Delpit, L. (2005). Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom. 1995. New York: New Press.

Derman-Sparks, L. (1989). Anti-bias curriculum: Tools for empowering young children. National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1834 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009-5786.

Dillingham, B. (2001). Visual portrait of a story: Teaching storytelling. Juneau, AK: School Handout.

Dip, J. M. R. B. P. (2014). Voices from the heart: the use of digital storytelling in education. Community Practitioner, 87(1), 28.

Dong, Y. (2002). Integrating language and content: how three biology teachers work with non-English speaking students. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 5, 40-57.

Frisch, J.K., Cone, N. & Callahan, B. (2017). Using Personal Science Story Podcasts to Reflect on Language and Connections to Science. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 17, 205-228.

Frisch, J. K., Jackson, P. C., & Murray, M. C. Transforming undergraduate biology learning with inquiry-based instruction. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 1-26.

Hendry PM (2007) The future of narrative. Qualitative Inquiry, 13, 487–498.

Huber, J., Caine, V., Huber, M., & Steeves, P. (2013). Narrative inquiry as pedagogy in education: The extraordinary potential of living, telling, retelling, and reliving stories of experience. Review of Research in Education, 37, 212-242.

Hung, C. M., Hwang, G. J., & Huang, I. (2012). A Project-based Digital Storytelling Approach for Improving Students’ Learning Motivation, Problem-Solving Competence and Learning Achievement. Educational Technology & Society, 15, 368-379.

Lambert, J. (2002). Digital storytelling: Capturing lives, creating communities. Berkeley, CA: Digital Diner.

Lambert, J. (2010). Digital Storytelling Cookbook. Berkley, CA: Digital Diner.

Ohler, J. B. (2013). Digital storytelling in the classroom: New media pathways to literacy, learning, and creativity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Pearson, P., Moje, E., and Greenleaf, C. (2010). Literacy and science: Each in the service of the other. Science, 328, 459-463.

Pegrum, M., Bartle, E., and Longnecker, N. (2015). Can creative podcasting promote deep learning? The use of podcasting for learning content in an undergraduate science unit. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46, 142-152.

Putman, S. M., & Kingsley, T. (2009). The atoms family: Using podcasts to enhance the development of science vocabulary. The Reading Teacher, 63, 100-108. Roadside Theater. (2016). Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life. Case Study: Story Circles as an Evaluation Tool. Retrieved from

Robin, B.R. (2008). Digital storytelling: A powerful technology tool for the 21st century classroom. Theory into practice, 47, 220-228.

Snow, C. E. (2010). Academic language and the challenge of reading for learning about science. Science, 328, 450-452.

Silva, C., Weinburgh, M., and Smith, K.H. (2013). Not just good science teaching: Supporting academic language development. Voices from the middle, 20, 34- 42.

West, M., & West, M. P. (Eds.). (1953). A general service list of English words: with semantic frequencies and a supplementary word-list for the writing of popular science and technology. Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley Longman Limited.

Willox, A. C., Harper, S. L., & Edge, V. L. (2012). Storytelling in a digital age: digital storytelling as an emerging narrative method for preserving and promoting indigenous oral wisdom. Qualitative Research, 13, 127-147