Podcasting in the Classroom

BHS Faculty Expo

4/5/07 and 4/26/07

G221 (math computer lab)

by Matthew Dawson, BHS, Green, Science

Are you and your students tired of doing the same old reports, posters, and PowerPoint projects? Why not give podcasting a try?

Podcasts are audio recordings posted on the Internet for people to download to their portable music players, such as iPods. Podcasts can be listened to anywhere, anytime, and they can be about any topic. Podcasts can be found on a variety of websites, including government, commercial, news, educational, music, entertainment, and personal sites.

Podcasts provide many opportunities for engaging students and strengthening both literacy skills and content knowledge. Science students could turn weather forecasts into weather podcasts. History students could podcast oral histories and interviews with members of their family or community. Music students could easily record their performances and share them online, perhaps with some commentary. English students could convert any written work into a radio show. Math students could podcast songs or rhymes to help others remember important formulas or theorems. Students in any class could produce podcasts that review class material and serve as a study aid before major exams. Other students can listen to these podcasts “on the go” to brush up on content and find out what their peers have learned. Extracurricular activities, such as clubs and athletic teams, could use podcasts to spread the word about their activities and accomplishments. Teachers and administrators could even use podcasts to communicate with parents and the community.

One of the biggest advantages of podcasts is that they are inexpensive and easy to create. The only equipment required is a computer with a microphone or a portable audio recorder/player. During this workshop, we listen to examples of podcasts, discuss techniques for producing simple podcasts, then experiment with recording podcasts of our own. We will also brainstorm ways to use podcasts effectively in our classrooms, with the ultimate goal of leveraging Internet technology to connect our students to the outside world. The workshop will take place in G221, the math computer lab, to provide a truly interactive experience. An outline and preview of the workshop will be posted at www.mrdawson.wikispaces.com/expo

1. Listen to some professional podcasts about podcasts (NPR), a teacher's podcast, and some student podcasts.
2. What is podcasting?
3. Why podcast in your classroom?
4. How do you make a podcast? Let's make some!
5. What tools do you need for a podcast?
6. Sample podcast assignment and rubrics.
7. How can we use podcasts in our classes?

Why Podcast?
Internet Politics, from NPR's Science Friday - - (3:00, 4:45, 6:00) http://www.sciencefriday.com/pages/2007/Mar/hour1_032307.html- Do you want a top-down learning environment, or bottom-up? User-generated media and Internet media can drive politics and popular culture, even affecting those not connected to the Internet.
Songs from the Classroom to 'Kid Pan Alley', from NPR's Morning Edition - http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9107568 (6:30) - Message to teachers and parents: students can be creators rather than consumers.
http://seddonk.podomatic.com/ or http://seddonk.podOmatic.com/entry/2007-04-01T14_43_48-07_00
Great ideas from Texas - http://www.wtvi.com/TEKS/05_06_articles/classroom-audio-podcasting.html

-It's fun!
-It's different.
-Students use technology anyway. Instead of fighting it, turn it to our advantage.
-Allows students to be creative.
-Allows students to "show-off".
-Students can listen to content and learn any time, any place.
-Constructivist; Students are producers of content, not just consumers. Bottom-up/grass-roots learning, rather than top-down ("guide on the suide" vs. "sage on the stage").
-Truly interactive, unlike most computer programs/tutorials.
-Support students with special needs; IEP, LEP, ESL, bilingual, limited vision, limited use of hands.
-Improve speaking skills, especially for shy students or foreign language students.
-Incorporates Gardner's multiple intelligences: musical, spatial (vodcast), linguistic (script), interpersonal (interviews).
-Involves higher level thinking skills on Bloom's taxonomy - application, analysis, synthesis, and perhaps evaluation.
-Addresses key BHS literacy skills, especially speaking and writing. (Can be adapted to require use of any literacy skill.)
-Addresses MA DOE Instructional Technology Standards. (Skip to page 14 for HS.)
-Practice teamwork skills.
-Develop technology skills valuable for the future workplace.
-Can connect students to a global audience in the "real world." "Window" into the classroom
-Fosters online collaboration and community building.
-Makes great extra credit or advanced assignments. (Especially if you're hesitant to try it with a full class.)
-Inexpensive; Compare cost of art supplies to cost of software ($0), a microphone ($0-10), or an MP3 player ($30-60).
-Fast; With careful planning, recording and editing might take only one period.
-Easy/No-Frills; Audio can be very simple; No fancy transitions, backgrounds, etc. required (a la PowerPoint).
-Harder to "cut and paste" when you are speaking with your own voice. Learn about citing sources/copyright.
-Safe; No names, no images, privacy is maintained.
-Flexible; Can be used in any subject.
-If we demand more technology, we have to use it!
-Any other ideas?

How To Podcast (Student Page)

Podcasting Tools
Audacity - A free, legal, open source program for recording and editing audio.
LAME - A free, legal, open source program for converting audio recordings to MP3 files. MP3 files take up less disk space than other types, so they are easier to store and can be shared more easily over the Internet.
Windows Movie Maker - The easiest way to make quick video podcasts (vodcasts). It comes pre-installed on almost every Windows PC. Look for it under Programs --> Accessories --> Windows Movie Maker.
MP3 Player/Voice Recorder - I use a Creative Zen Vision:M at home and a SanDisk Sansa Express for school. It seems like the more basic (cheaper) MP3 players are easier and faster to hook up to a computer. I'm hoping to try an Creative Zen Nano Plus, since you can hook up an external microphone.

Student Produced Podcasts - The Solar System
How to graph sunspots, by Coralie - external image empty.png PodcastCoralieSunspotGraphTutorial.mp3
Mercury, by Coralie - external image empty.png CoralieMercProjFinal.mp3
Mercury, by Achelie - external image empty.png PodcastMercuryAchelie06.mp3
Mars, by Keenon and Derrick - external image empty.png PodcastMarsKeenonDerrick06.mp3
Pluto, by Kasey - external image empty.png PodcastPlutoSheehan06.mp3
The Kuiper Belt, by Dan and Mike - external image empty.png PodcastKuiperBeltRonanSimmons_06.mp3
The Oort Cloud, by Craig - external image empty.png TheOortCloudCraig.mp3
The Oort Cloud, by Crystal - external image empty.png PodcastOortCloudCrystal.mp3
Comets, by Luis and Keila - external image empty.png PodcastCometsLuisKeila_06.mp3
Sedna, by Marsha - external image empty.png PodcastMarsha2.mp3


Podcasting Ideas

Podcasting Grant
Rob Giovanello and I received a $1,000 grant from the Brockton Education Foundation (BEF) to purchase equipment for podcasting in the classroom. If you'd like more information about our plans, you can read the original grant proposal here. If you want to try podcasting in your own classroom, let us know and we can work something out.