Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Reflect on the Semester

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This blog series is written by Julia Domenicucci, an editor at Macmillan Learning, in conjunction with Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl.


Somehow, the end of the year—and the start of summer—is here again! This blog post asks students to evaluate their writing from the past few months, using podcasts to consider their areas of success and skills that need improvement.

Podcasts are well-established, but their popularity seems to increase every day—and for good reason! They are engaging and creative, and they cover every topic imaginable. They are also great for the classroom: you can use them to maintain student engagement, accommodate different learning styles, and introduce multimodality. 

LaunchPad and Achieve products include assignable, ad-free Grammar Girl podcasts, which you can use to support your lessons. You can assign one (or all!) of these suggested podcasts for students to listen to before class. Each podcast also comes with a complete transcript, which is perfect for students who aren’t audio learners or otherwise prefer to read the content. To learn more about digital products and purchasing options, please visit Macmillan's English catalog or speak with your sales representative. 

If you are using LaunchPad, refer to the unit “Grammar Girl Podcasts” for instructions on assigning podcasts. You can also find the same information on the support page "Assign Grammar Girl Podcasts."

If you are using Achieve, you can find information on assigning Grammar Girl in Achieve on the support page “Add Grammar Girl and shared English content to your course.” If your English Achieve product is copyright year 2021 or later, you are able to use a folder of suggested Grammar Girl podcasts in your course; please see “Using Suggested Grammar Girl Podcasts in Achieve for English Products” for more information.


Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Reflect on the Semester

Pre-Class Work: Ask your students to think back over their assignments from this semester. You might ask them to consider assignments from just your course, or you may open it up to all courses from this semester.

Each student should brainstorm for a few minutes, listing at least 3 writing areas or skills they feel they have used successfully, and at least 3 areas that they still feel they need to improve.

If your students are struggling to come up with topics, ask them to reflect on the following and categorize them as either “successful” or “needs improvement”: 

  • use of active/passive voice
  • comma usage
  • use of citations
  • audience awareness
  • subject-verb agreement
  • metaphors and similes

Assignment A: Ask each student to choose and listen to a Grammar Girl podcast that relates to one of the the items on their “needs improvement” list. If there is time, they might listen to more than one! Or, ask students to share their lists with you, allowing you to assign podcasts to the whole class based on what students had the most trouble with. (Tip: If you are using LaunchPad, direct your students to the “Menu of Grammar Girl Podcasts”; if you are using Achieve you will need to make the podcasts available using the instructions at “Add Grammar Girl and shared English content to your course.”)

Then, ask students to list out 3 things they learned from the podcast(s) about their topic, 2 ways they will work to improve their writing in the following semesters, and 1 question they still have about their writing or about a particular skill.

Reflection for Assignment A: Ask students to write 1-3 paragraphs about what writing skills they hope to learn in the future. This could be as simple as improving grammar or usage (such as use of commas) or as complex as learning a specific type of writing (such as lab reports).

Assignment B: Ask students to choose one of the skills they identified as successful. Then, either assign a short Grammar Girl podcast or listen to one together in class. Any topic will work, although you might suggest a podcast focused on something you would like your students to learn more about. 

Using the Grammar Girl podcast as a model, students should then draft a short podcast script outlining their best tips for success in their chosen area. If time allows, students might record a rough draft of their podcast as well. Students should aim for 1-2 minute podcasts.

If you are in person, put students in small groups and have them share their podcast scripts. Or, match students together online and ask them to share digitally.

Reflection for Assignment B: Ask students to list one thing they learned from each peer’s podcast script. Then, ask them to write a paragraph about the writing skill they would most like to improve, and a potential plan for improving it.


Credit: "Reflection" by Anderson Mancini is licensed under CC BY 2.0