That's exactly why we love technology so much. When you put two great powers together, the results are often beyond what we as teachers can dream up.
This past fall I finally put a dream into action and started a tech club at my elementary school. They are deemed the Tech Ninjas. Why Ninjas? Think about it. Ninjas are highly skilled and pretty, um, awesome. Our most recent project has me really excited.
Except the thought of this project wouldn't have excited me much a few years ago. Podcasting always seemed like something boring people did while they drove long commutes (sorry, honey). This past summer; however, my eyes were opened to the new possibilities podcasting could bring to the classroom.
So this past week, we began our adventures in podcasting.
Like all good projects should, it started with a driving question.
How can we share timely, relevant, and interesting information with our peers and school community?
Not only does this question beg students to think about the how, but it forces students to think about what is "interesting" and "relevant." THIS is the definition of kid-empowerment. We just used the podcasting format (technology) to FUEL their creativity. It also brought great discussion about the best ways to share with our peers. Thankfully, our principal has agreed to include the link in our weekly newsletter.
So after a great brainstorming session (we used GoogleDrive to share our thoughts and notes), students broke into teams to write their scripts. Students chose which group based upon what they felt most passionate about. We also talked bout how this project would be fluid. That it should evolve over time as our knowledge base and expertise grows.
This is the "weather" group working on their script.
Now for this "pilot" edition of our podcast, I knew it wasn't going to be perfect. THAT'S O....K...! When you step back and allow kids to learn on their own, you have to have realistic expectations. As time goes on, I will expect that scripts are fully researched and edited. This first session was more about "getting pen to paper" and building excitement. (By pen to paper, I really mean they used a note-taking app of choice!)
What I did want to do for them was model good voice. So we sat in a circle on the floor together. I modeled for them what a good "radio" voice might sound like. I also modeled what a terrible voice sounds like. This is extremely important with podcasting. It's also a good opportunity to make kids laugh (robot voice, squeaky voice...you get it).
Then it was time to record. I'd like to say that we did it so right on the first time, that we ended the club session early that day. Nope. Not even close. In fact, the one who messed up the most? Me. Yes, I admit it.
I am still playing with different audio apps. For this session we used Voice Record Pro. I have access to GarageBand on my Mac, and I plan to try it out next time. Not only will this be an evolving process for the kids, but for me as well. I have no gripes with VRP. I'll let you listen and see what you think!
So I encourage you to think about podcasting in the classroom.
Here are a few ways you might incorporate them.
- Pretend to podcast live from a specific time period or event in history.
- "How To" do almost anything (would tie great with "how to" writing).
- Reviews of movies, games, toys, etc.
- Biographies of famous characters or Autobiographies
- Travel casts that provide information and persuade viewers to visit