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'Serial' podcast helps students prep for ISTEP

Posted at 5:03 PM, Mar 01, 2016

DECATUR TOWNSHIP, Ind. – A batch of local high-schoolers say they're ready for whatever ISTEP brings their way, thanks to a unique way their teacher prepped them.

Decatur Central High School English teacher Eduardo Torres has been using the podcast “Serial” for the past couple months to prepare the students on audio-storytelling comprehension.

The podcast from the makers of “This American Life” chronicles the investigation and court case involving the 1999 Baltimore murder of Hae Min Lee. Her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was arrested, charged and convicted of her murder.

But it’s not as cut-and-dry as that, as the show’s host, Sarah Koenig, uncovers.

It’s difficult podcast to stop listening to, and the students have learned that firsthand.

"It's one of those mystery things that leaves you hanging at the end,” Sophomore Mike Gasper said. “And you just want to know exactly what's about to happen."

The students can’t get enough of the podcast, and Torres said he’s used their enthusiasm to their own benefit.

“Reading comprehension is lower than where I want it to be,” Torres said. “And my ‘Aha!’ moment was that the process of reading is something you learn. You have to know what that process looks like before I can apply the process.”

It’s a process of breaking apart what you read or hear, defending your thoughts, forming an opinion, and writing a thought-out answer.

That process is a huge part of the ISTEP: Learning to dissect information. And in the process these students are more engaged than ever.

And if you’re wondering, in the three classrooms that have listened to the podcast, about 65 percent of the students believe Adnan Syed is not guilty.


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