Audio Compositions

Audio Compositions

Adapted from English Language Arts Units for 9-12 by Christopher Shamburg with contributions from Paul Amato

Standards: This strategy has the potential to address all the Standards for Speaking and Listening and for Writing.

The stories we tell take on new meaning when we tell them in our own voices. As a culminating project in a unit of study devoted to reading, writing, rhetoric, or inquiry, or as part of a unit on speaking and listening, challenge students to produce an audio composition.

Step 1Listen

Before students begin, acclimate them to the world of old radio by listening to the opening minutes of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds:

From old radio to new, students can then listen to audio essays and reports published at This I Believe:

and NPR’s Youth Radio site:

 Students decide with a partner which audio essays to focus on, keeping careful notes with a Listening Guide.

Step 2Script

Whether students are composing a script specifically for this project or transmediating a written essay or report into an audio composition, their drafts should not exceed 500 words. See the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for Speaking and Listening for guidance on the content, reasoning, point of view and tone.

Step 3Record

Before and during the recording process, students need to practice speaking their composition with attention to articulation and expression through a thoughtful and practiced combination of volume, pitch, pace, tone, and style. Students can record their compositions using an iPhone, iPad, or a camera microphone.

Step 4Edit

As students record their audio compositions, encourage them to use the tools of human expression (vocal, environmental, music, silence) to enhance their audio essay, using an audio-video editing program such as Adobe Premiere, Adobe Sound Booth, GarageBand, or Audacity. An audio tutorial written by Paul Amato and Mary Ellen Dakin for Adobe Premiere is published at this site.