Lesson Plan

Creating Captivating Radio Dramas

Introduce students to the performance arts using radio dramas as a fun and engaging activity!
Michelle N.
Classroom teacher
Lebanon Senior High School
Lebanon, United States
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My Grades 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts, Arts

Students will be able to...

  • Identify, define and correctly use key vocabulary.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of key radio drama history
  • Apply ELA and Humanities skills (reading and analyzing dramatic scripts, speaking / presentation skills, & creating authentic works)
English Language Arts
Grades 9 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook / Attention Getter - The Greatest Radio Drama...EVER

Introduce students to one of the most famous radio dramas in history -- Orson Wells' War of the Worlds

  1. Introduce this history of War of the Worlds (resource above). Then, have students listen to the first 15 - 30 minutes of the radio drama.
  2. During this time, students should keep a log of things that they hear. Encourage students to note things beyond plot. Create a Padlet that students can add thoughts to as they listen. 
    • Plot (moreover the timing of the plot) is important in the drama, however, students should start to realize that various speaking tones, accents, sound effects and speech patterns (things like repetition of names) help to create something that sounds "real." 
  3. Review their notes / Padlet, focusing on the skills they will need to learn in order to create a radio drama. 
    • ​Focus on: Sound Effects, Tones, Dialogue, etc.
Student Instructions

As we listen to War of the Worlds, add your observations about what you are hearing to this <link> Padlet. Listen closely to the elements that make this drama sound realistic and important things that happen within the plot. 

2 Direct Instruction - Radio History

During direct instruction, students should take notes using a digital note taker (like Evernote) on the history of radio drama. 

  1. Utilize the presentation listed in the Off-Site Resources, or, create your own. 
Student Instructions

As we review key concepts and events of radio dramas, take notes using a digital note taker. 

3 Independent Practice - Key Vocabulary

Free, Paid

"Speaking the language" is a key skill that students need to have in order to apply concepts and speak strategically. 

  1. Students should use Quizlet or similar flash card app to create vocabulary cards that include: term, definition and image. 
    • ​Terms: Foley Artist, SFX (Sound Effects), On-Air, Dead-Air, Cold Read, Broadcast
  2. Have students write authentic (original) sentences using the terms as a formative check. 
    • ​I suggest having students share their sentences in a Think-Pair-Share, or have students share one sentence, whole class. 
Student Instructions

Using the Quizlet app, create flashcards for the terms listed below. Cards should include: Term, definition and image. 

When you are complete, you will use each term in an original (of your own creation) sentence. We will review your sentences in a Think-Pair-Share.

4 Group Practice - Creating a Drama

Students will work together in small groups to create a radio drama based on "historical" radio dramas. 

  1. Visit the "Generic Radio Workshop Library Series" to choose a radio show for students to record.
    • Assign a different show to each group. Recordings of entire shows can be lengthy -- consider recording 10 to 30 minuets.
  2. Have students delegate parts and roles. Students should be prepared to play multiple roles.
    • They will also need to find or create sound effects, nominate a sound engineer (someone to record) and a foley artist.
  3. Each group should practice reading their scripts (and avoid reading the stage directions) and decide when sounds need to be added to the drama during the recording (or where they should be placed during editing).
  4. Finally, groups should record using Opinion + (free but limited to 10min) or another like app. 
  5. Assess students based on the student checklist.
Student Instructions

In a group, you will produce your own radio show. You may choose your own script -- your broadcast must run approximately 30 minutes. 


  • All students must participate as "on-air" talent
    • Students should pay attention to cadence, dynamic and enunciation
  • Broadcast must run approximately 30min
  • Broadcast must incorporate sound effects (student made or canned)
  • Broadcast avoids dead air

Name __________________________________________




Spoke with appropriate cadence




Spoke with appropriate dynamic




Enunciated words and phrases




Cohesive Dialog (seems like a conversation)




Dead Air (a period longer than 10 sec. without sound)




Used SFX




SFX were ‘realistic’




5 Wrap-Up - Presentations / Quiz

  1. After all groups have recorded, play the radio dramas for the class. 
  2. As students listen to their peers' radio dramas, have them fill out the student checklist for each group.
  3. Then, have students write a short essay that describes the following: What went well. What difficulties were faced/overcome. What things would be done differently next time. 
  4. (Optional) Give students a quiz that tests vocabulary skills and understanding of the history of radio drama.
Student Instructions

Now that you have completed your group project, you will write a reflection of your efforts. In this FOUR PARAGRAPH paper you will write about the following:

  1. Explain the procedure used to complete the project (what did you do)
  2. Explain what went well 
  3. Explain what could be improved upon
  4. Describe your plan for making a better project based on what you now know

Be sure to be specific, give details and proof read!