Podcasts Help Students Learn Lessons on the Justice System


This year, English teacher Lara Cole started teaching her students about podcasts. The podcast her class is learning about is Serial. Serial teaches the students how the justice system works and focuses on every angle of a story. 

Cole said, “A Serial podcast is a repeated story and it is kind of a flashback to the old times where radio shows would have a little bit of a story each week so it was designed to be listened to one episode at a time.”

The Serial podcast is about a case of Hae Min Lee and the accusation of Adnan Syed and it tells the story of his case and his conviction. It also provides a lot of evidence and a lot of contradictory evidence that was included in this case.

Sophomore Mayme Kennedy a student of Cole’s said, “I think the Serial podcast is an interesting way to teach how to make a story and try to prove what you think is right with the evidence”. 

As Sophomore Mackenzie Dye said, “The podcasts are very cool to listen to. You can listen at your own pace but you really have to listen in to get the full details. You can hear the characters come to life and learn them as a person and it’s like you feel what they are going through. 

As said by Cole “This case is important because it allows students to listen to how the justice system works. It teaches the students how evidence works and how the technology works.  There’s a lot of things in this that I think illuminates students to what we do in our daily lives and how it can be used for us and against us.”

As Dye said, “These podcasts teach us to listen and comprehend things better and it makes us think a lot about our lives and how actions affect us.”

Kennedy also said, “The podcasts have taught me there is a fun way to learn but also that things like this can happen to anyone in life.” 

As Cole said, “My esteemed colleague Mark Russel at Lee’s Summit High School uses these podcasts in his English classes. He talked about how his students loved it. So, when he said that I thought it would be a great story for my students. Like it or not there is a lot of interest in stories about murder and crime, that has a lot of high interest right now so I thought it would be perfect.” 

The podcast about the murder of Hae Min Lee sparked the interest of many students.  

The evidence in the case is fishy and odd all this led to another court trial for the convicted killer Adnan Syed. 

Dye said, “With this case, you find things out about the case as you go and you don’t expect it because some of it is so shocking and it doesn’t make sense how it happened,” Dye said.

“I have had great conversations with students about things like how they look at a source. I teach that text is everything and anything and being able to read a text very well and very conclusively is very important” Cole said.

Kennedy said, “This whole experience has taught me a lot about how cases like this are handled and how sometimes these cases are just wrong with evidence and interviews and how it just doesn’t add up.”

Cole said, “The best part of the podcast is that students are learning and they don’t even know it! But, I think that students are excited about the story. They are excited to talk to each other about a story The students are building a lot of confidence that they have these skills and they can implant these skills in real life and they do come from an English class. No matter what the text looks like and that is one of the most rewarding things as a teacher to see.” 

These podcasts have taught my students so much over the past few weeks and I will be using these podcasts in the future for my students it has been a fun unit and very interesting” Cole said.