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What Has Podcasting Done for You?: Great Things Often Begin in Small Ways

Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant
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A few weeks ago, I spent the day in residency in a small school doing purposeful podcasting with seventh-grade teachers and kids. We were using a model I call professional development for kids, where we cut out the middleman (or -woman) and deliver the tools right to the kids and teachers at the same time.

It was a great day, built around recording news articles about the school community, and the ability of podcasting to support literacy achievement was made crystal clear to all involved. Kids were reading scripts over a dozen times to get it right before the cry of "Quiet on the set! Recording in three . . . two . . ." would ring out once again.

Then, last Friday, I happened to be facilitating a meeting where the principal and the technology coordinator/integrator were participants. As the group was sharing how technology was being used effectively in their schools, these folks described how they were leveraging student enthusiasm for podcasting to revolutionize morning announcements, increase student engagement, and improve literacy at a deep level.

For the last year or more, the principal had been reading a presentation he calls "Words of Wisdom" at the end of the morning announcements each day. They were powerful words, but, in all candor, the sad truth is that because it was the same voice reading them five days a week, the kids had sort of learned to tune it out. The good news is that it turns out that high-quality text, fresh voices, fluency, the ability to read with voice, and the requisite skills and tools to podcast were the pieces that provided a solution.

Now, every day, a "Words of Wisdom" podcast, independently created by one of the seventh graders, is featured at the end of the morning announcements -- and, yes, every student is participating! Think about it: Kids who just a couple weeks ago were tuning them out are now spending significant amounts of time reading, understanding, rereading, reflecting on, and ultimately recording the words of Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, and others, along with a pithy moral. They are thinking about how to modulate and pace their voices, how to read in tune with the words so as to make their recording engaging and meaningful, entertaining and instructive, popular and purposeful. Wow!

Sure, it's a small beginning, but it is so powerful. The visibility both as part of the announcements and on the school's Web site make it clear that from here on out, digital tools are part of how this school does business. Who knows what will come next?

Oh, and if you hear, in about twelve years or so, of a young reporter on CNN, a fellow named Dylan who hails from Allenstown, New Hampshire, you'll know where he got some of his first broadcast experience!

So, how has podcasting made a mark in your classroom, or in your school? I look forward to hearing from you and picking up some more simply great ideas. Thanks in advance for sharing.

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Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant

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Melanie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have been actively involved with Podcasting for the past year and a half, thanks to an incredible group of technology enthusiasts and the support of our administrators. My position as a technology specialist allows me the flexibility and opportunity to work with various curriculum, students, and teachers. Since the podcasting craze took classrooms by storm, our 7th graders have conducted historical interviews, 8th graders have persuaded listeners to take part in the New 7 Wonders of the World voting, elementary students read their original stories and poetry, energetic middle schoolers have educated our community on the need to develop responsibly through our historic pathways on their Journey Through Hallowed Ground, 4th graders informed their audience of a different perspective of the Depression Era, and are currently taking historical figures to various distant lands exposing these figures to places they could only dream about. Podcasting has opened up avenues for learning, excitement, and discovery. As educators continue to guide students through learning, this technology provides a format where all students can succeed!
Using the podcast as a means for "Words of Wisdom" is an excellent example of integrating all we attempt, while placing ownership where it is needed. I can't agree more with the power podcasting has and the confidence it gives our students! Look out broadcasting studio's, the next wave of talent is fast approaching!

Sandi's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Wahoooo!! We have just completed our second Podcasting 101 class with our teachers. What excitement this new tool has generated! Students are rushing to class to complete research, perfect scripts, rehearse, record and edit everything from new book reviews to Georgia History newscast.
I know the key is being part of the creative process instead of the audience.
We are excited to see what happens when we introduce enhanced and video podcast!!

Brent's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have been podcasting with my students for about a year and a half -- we call our podcasts ColeyCasts. I've found the process to be a terrific way to reinforce curriculum, work on writing and speaking skills, and provide parents a non-traditional window into the classroom (plus, students love seeing their work in iTunes!). This past year I created a new podcast for my students -- audio review sessions for social studies and science tests called StudyCasts. Very easy to create, these broadcasts provided my students with an extra study aide. I invite you to listen to our podcasts.



J. Moulton's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Brent -

Cool stuff. I love seeing things that are good, and replicable. I listened to your "intro to studycasts," and I look forward to coming back later in the year when you have put the actual studycasts in place.

What a great way to support learning. And I bet in the preparation of these you reflect on, "just what is it you want the kids to know, understand, and be able to do?" KUDO...

Thanks for sharing.

Jim Moulton

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