Day 5: Analyzing Radio Broadcasts

Lesson Title:  Analyzing Radio Broadcasts


Daily Objective:

Students will demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the various vocal techniques we have been learning by listening to and analyzing different radio broadcast examples and identifying the techniques used by the voice actors in each.


Materials Needed:

Clips from War of the Worlds, The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Murder by Moonlight), Gunsmoke (The Railroad), clip from “Villain and Able” from This American Life. Rubric for their final assessment – Radio Broadcast Assignment Sheet


Teaching Presentation:



When students walk in, have the window open to outside and music playing ever so lightly. Have students walk around the classroom for a minute or two in soft focus. Ask “What did you notice?” Don’t tell them what they’re doing. (Most likely they will notice visual things.) Next, have them all sit down and close their eyes. Walk around them, make normal but random noises (cough, drink from a water bottle, etc.). Now ask them what types of things they notice, or are aware of. (Mostly sound this time) Ask them what the difference was. “These sounds were going the entire time yet no one (or hardly anyone) said anything about it at first).” Why was that?



Have students move into a seated circle on the floor.



Explain to the students that they are going to create a soundscape. Explain that you will give a location, and as a group, they are going to make sounds like what they might hear at that location. (Give an example: at the beach, what are some different sounds you might hear? Have students give examples, like waves, birds, etc.)


Here are the rules:
* I am the conductor, you are the orchestra.
* If I do this (gesture upward or downward), and point to you, you should get lou-der/softer.
* If I do this (gesture upward or downward with both hands), then everyone should get louder/softer.
* If I touch the ground, I need everyone to be silent.
* Listen to the location I give you and try to create a picture with the sound.
Locations: beach, park, restaurant, five year old’s birthday party, spooky graveyard
It is likely that they will need to try the first few locations a few different times, this is okay. Ask them after each what was good and what could be better.



After the entire soundscape, create a discussion with the students by asking:
What did you think of that?
Were we able to create the effect we wanted?
How do sounds help to paint a picture of a story in our heads?



Have students move to their seats and get out their journals.



Ask students what they know about radio. Do any of them listen to talk radio, or other radio broadcasts? Do their parents? “There used to be a time when radio was the form of entertainment, not television.”
Ask them to listen to the different audio clips. They are just to listen and notice and en-joy, ask them not to write anything down. After each of the clips, ask the following questions and foster a discussion.


War of the Worlds clip:

• What did you think? What were your reactions?
• What did you like or dislike?
• Did it seem real?*


* Explain this interesting fact: during its broadcast in 1938 when radio entertainment was relatively new, even though it says at the beginning of the program what it is, people were panicking because they thought what they were hearing was real. They thought aliens were attacking the planet.
Have them answer the following in their journals:

• What power do our voices have?


Sherlock Holmes clip: (3 mins)

• What did you notice about this clip?
• How did they utilize their voices?
• Could you visualize the characters?
• What did you “see” happening?
Have them answer the following in their journals:
• What sound effects did you notice? What did it add?


Gunsmoke clip: (3 mins)

• What can you tell about the two characters in this clip?
• What can you tell about their relationship?
• What could you visualize as you listened?
• How?
Have them answer the following in their journals:
• How were they able to create such clear characters with just their voices?


Villain and Able: (short segment from the middle)

• Were you engaged throughout?

• What about his voice made him interesting to listen to?
• What were some of the vocal techniques you heard him use?
• Did you find this clip a little more relatable?

Have them answer the following in their journals:
• What can you take away from this last radio clip?



Herd students into a circle to have their full attention. Describe the final assessment – the recorded radio broadcasts. Pass out the rubric. Go through this rubric together, fo-cusing on each point.
This project will be done in groups of 3-5, meaning each person will likely be more than one character, and/or have to implement more than one technique. Everyone must have a speaking role, and must demonstrate at least one vocal technique in the broadcast.



Students will be assessed on their participation today. Participation in the classroom walkabout, in the soundscape game, in class discussion following each radio clip, and in their journal entries answering a certain question after each radio clip.