Co-Authored by Sarah Rayder & Melanie Kingett
Recent data shows that there are more than 88 million podcast listeners in the United States and over 800,000 active podcasts covering just about every conceivable topic, interest and fandom. As these numbers continue to grow and with podcasts available on nearly every smartphone, tablet and television, “how can we make use of podcasting as a teaching tool?” That was the question Melanie Kingett was contemplating in the winter of 2020. Her answer became The APsolute RecAP!
What is “The APsolute RecAP”?
The APsolute RecAP’s philosophy is to maximize students’ understanding and minimize their need for memorization. The first series, “The APsolute RecAP: Biology Edition”, focuses on the students’ knowledge of biological concepts, providing practical examples and analogies and emphasizing big ideas. The episodes follow the updated CED and each episode is under 10 minutes in length, so students are able to squeeze in a quick, effective review session even if they don’t have a ton of time to do so. As an added bonus, each episode concludes with a related “question of the day” that students can answer by following the instagram account (@theapsoluterecap). “The APsolute RecAP: Biology Edition” podcast has 44 free episodes and more than 28,000 downloads from all over the world!
Building on the success of “The APsolute RecAP: Biology Edition”, (which will be returning for a second season for the 2020-2021 school year) Melanie teamed up with Dr. Sarah Rayder to record “The APsolute RecAP: Chemistry Edition” starting with a pre-AP® mini-series. The first episodes on chemical and physical change, atomic structure and the periodic table were released on iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher on July 13th. The full schedule for the pre-AP® series as well as the first season of AP® Chemistry podcasts are available at www.theapsoluterecap.com.
Why a podcast?
Podcasts have two important characteristics that make them an effective teaching tool. First, they are available anywhere students bring their phones… so everywhere… Second, students can take in the information just by listening. This allows them to give their eyes a much needed break from the screen and also makes it ideal for the car or bus ride to school, while working out in the gym or going for a walk… all they need is their phone and headsets - and they are ready to go!
How can teachers utilize the podcast?
With the educational structure looking somewhat uncertain for the 2020-2021 school year, The APsolute RecAP’s podcasts provide teachers and students with a great resource during distance learning and in the classroom. Episodes are organized by unit and topic and can help students prepare for chapter tests as well as the AP® exam in May. Students can listen to episodes asynchronous, but also in person, for example when the teacher is absent in the days leading up to a quiz or test. Later in the school year, they can also be used for “Throwback Thursday” quizzes with the goal of reviewing earlier taught content or to reinforce the material and show connections between different units - for example, in chemistry, between Unit 6: Thermodynamics and Unit 9: Applications of Thermodynamics.
What will the future bring?
Currently, The APsolute RecAP is working on study guides that students can complete while listening to the podcast. These study guides are interactive, provide structure and guidance for the students, but also have space for them to take their own notes and identify areas they would like to focus their review. The study guides, subscriptions to virtual classrooms, personalized tutoring sessions, and additional AP® content will be available www.theapsoluterecap.com in plenty of time for the 2020-2021 school year.