When classes moved online in spring 2020, I decided that it was time to mix things up a bit, and I revamped my final assignment for the semester. What was previously a final paper and presentation on the subject of the paper, became something that gave students a bit more freedom in how they presented their knowledge of the assigned subject.
I had begun recording my own podcast, Why Do We Read This? in the fall of 2019 and had been requiring my literature students to listen to it as part of their homework. This, combined with the move online, and a NEMLA presentation by Francisco Delgado about how he used podcasts as a final project option, gave me the inspiration to try something new.
I have now offered the option of creating a podcast episode as a final project for the last three semesters. It is not required – students can choose to make an instructional video or write an analytical paper instead – but it does seem to be a popular option for students looking to do something other than write another paper.
This past spring, in my LTS 3012 – Latinas: A Social and Cultural Survey class, over 25% of the students opted to record a podcast episode. The topic was open-ended. Students could choose to focus on any topic as long as it connected to the course focus on Latinas in the US. Projects could focus on one of the literary works we read during the semester, could be an extension of a presentation students had given earlier in the semester, or could address any subject of interest for the student(s) completing the project.
I had students who covered subjects such as colorism, Latina beauty standards, transnational motherhood, social and cultural pressures on Latinas, first generation Latinas and what it means to be successful, Latina stereotypes, and more. And at the end of the semester, I reached out to these students and asked if they would be willing to share their work with a more public audience. Three of the students agreed.
Diana did her podcast on Latinas and Virginity. She provided historical background on this social construct and commentary on how it affects Latinas today. She incorporated theory by Gloria Anzaldua along with quotes and references from a number of additional sources. She really dove into the problematic nature of virginity in Latinx culture, going all the way back to the arrival of the Spanish and touching upon how the concept is perpetuated in the 21st century.
You can listen to Diana’s project here: Virginity – Historical Background and Commentary
Students also had the option to work in pairs if they chose the podcast option. The only difference was that the time requirement for the episode was a bit longer. While Diana’s episode is approximately 12 minutes long, Kelly and Maritza’s project clocks in at just over 20 minutes. In their episode of what they called “The Late Night Podcast” they discuss Latina stereotypes including hyper-sexualization, Latinas and dual identities, and machismo. As part of their episode, they referenced some of the works of literature we read in class during the semester including Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo, Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon, “How to Leave Hialeah” by Jennine Capó Crucet, and Once I Was You by Maria Hinojosa.
You can listen to Kelly and Maritza’s project (in 2 parts, due to size) here: