You’re a 6’6”, 240-pound high school senior – all muscle.
You’re a favorite on the football team, you just won an athletic scholarship to Boston College, and your coach says you’re built for a career in the NFL.
There’s just one problem – you’re terrified of being hit.

That was comedian Gary Gulman’s teenaged life and he shared his story recently on NPR’s This American Life in a charming 26-minute podcast episode. For the past few years, I’ve successfully used podcasts in my classroom to help students build the listening skills that are now needed for their computerized state exams. The kids love the episodes (maybe because those days are a half-hour less of me talking, eh?) and I love the breathing room they give us when we’re between units.

If you’d like to hear Gulman’s entertaining story of life as a reluctant football star, you can access both an uncensored copy and a clean/bleeped version here:

Note: The NPR program’s language is mostly clean, but Gulman does say, “Fuck, yeah!” twice early in the uncensored version of the episode as a tool of characterization to describe his enthusiastic assistant football coaches. The material is appropropriate for high school students, but you should listen to the podcast before using it in your classroom to make sure the content is a good match for your students.

Also, the second half of the episode deals with issues surrounding childhood sexual abuse and repressed memories. I don’t plan to use this “part 2” segment of the podcast at all; instead, I’ll instruct my kids to stop listening at the 26-minute mark.

As always, I wrote some questions to guide my students through the episode. After they complete the question set on their own, I’ll have all of us come back together for a full-class discussion of the topics raised in the program. You can write your own questions or download a copy of my set here:

Want more podcast-based lessons? Click here and scroll down on that page to check out my full catalog of options:

Happy summer, everyone!

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Interesting. I enjoy podcasts but am not so sure kids would due to shorter attention span, but it sounds like you only play certain parts too.


  2. Oh, they love ’em! I’ve found that 20 minutes to a half-hour is the sweet spot for a daily listening chunk. If the program runs longer, I’d break it up over multiple days. I do the same schedule for reading of text, watching films, listening to me lecture – everything, really. It’s hard for them (and me!) to maintain focus on a content chunk that lasts more than a half hour without pausing for digestion, reflection, and discussion. If you find a podcast you like that you can bring in as a supplement, go for it!

    Liked by 1 person

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high school English, informational text, lesson plan, non-fiction, podcast, print and teach, Uncategorized