Faculty member's podcast guides future teachers

November 29, 2022 (Volume 46, Number 7)
Article by Brian Vernellis

woman at desk delivering a podcast on Zoom, with another woman on screen

Erica Hamilton delivers a podcast with colleague Deb Van Duinen on Zoom, pictured on Hamilton's monitor. The two have created 'All About Literacy' for their respective classes.

Photo Credit: Kendra Stanley-Mills

A podcast co-produced by a faculty member is helping future teachers gain deeper insight into their course and understand eventual applications in their own classrooms.

Erica Hamilton, associate professor of literacy studies and assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, teaches a class focused on content area literacy — EDR 321. Hamilton introduces her students who are secondary pre-service teachers with strategies, theories and research, which, she said, will help them develop the literacy skills of their own students. 

“The course is a literacy course, so one of our goals is to help our students understand multimodal texts,” Hamilton said. “I think we do a good job of offering them exposure to lots of different texts, whether that’s videos, TED talks, audio recordings, sketch notes.”

But Hamilton was looking to create content herself to help her students understand the practical applications of their coursework. At Hope College, colleague Deb Van Duinen teaches a similar class, so the two collaborated on a podcast to provide a complement to their students’ readings.

Hamilton said their “All About Literacy” podcast (Apple Music, Spotify) provides additional background on the teachers and administrators who’ve authored the books and research used in the class as well as highlighting other educators.

“I think it’s helpful to hear researchers talk about their content and ideas, so that it’s not just the books or articles that we read,” Hamilton said. “When the authors have a voice, I think it matters.

“We could have never done the podcast and just told the class to listen to this or that one. But this is showing them how I choose to interact with colleagues, and that I want to be connected with people in the field. I think it’s meaningful.”

Hamilton admits there was a learning curve in understanding the new technology. She and Van Duinen were meticulous in their planning and scripting questions. Their initial episodes were an hour long, and they found some students less engaged.

Some of her students aren’t thrilled with podcasts, but that’s OK, Hamilton said. 

“First, I hope the podcast helps students realize that text doesn’t just mean book or article, it’s not just a hard copy of something, and we can learn from lots of different texts,” Hamilton said. 

“And I hope they are willing to consider how multimodal texts might fit into their own classrooms. Students are consuming all kinds of texts outside of school, and I would love for them to understand that those kinds of texts can be used to support learning, too.”

Hamilton said two seasons of the podcast are finished with a third planned for recording this winter with a release in the spring. 

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This article was last edited on November 29, 2022 at 11:35 a.m.

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