Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Podcasting in the Classroom

Podcasting became one of the headlines in Frederick’s Gazette newspaper this past week. Margarita Raycheva crafted a wonderful article highlighting the benefits of podcasting with students. What exactly is a podcast? A podcast is like a radio show that is posted to the Internet and can be subscribed to via RSS feed. The beauty of podcasting is that students are the stars of the show. Since the children want time in front of the microphone, they are motivated to research and write scripts to turn into podcasts. Some teachers use podcasts scripts as a part of the student’s writing grade. Since anyone in the world can subscribe to the podcast once it is posted, a student’s family members can subscribe to the podcast from anywhere. Last year our third grade podcast had hits from Korea due to one student who had extended family living there. How much more motivating and engaging can it be to have people around the world listen to your show?

Our class used free software called Audacity to record the show. We found music clips from MagnaTune that allows people to include their music for podcasts. In a podcast, there can be many different types of segments:
  • Word of the Day
  • Tips for learning your math facts
  • This Day in History
  • Interviews with real guest speakers or fictional guests (like George Washington)
  • Reading Fluency practice with stories
  • Animal Facts
  • Where in the World? (Geographical clues to a mystery location)
  • Factual reports
  • Persuasive speeches
  • School songs
  • Teachers can podcast to create a review for a test or to record a lecture. What a great way to catch up or get ahead in class!

One of the best examples of a school podcast site that I have seen is Radio Willow Web. They have been a model for other schools all over the country and have been published in several books and articles. My only regret with podcasting is that I didn’t try it sooner. It was the only activity that fully engaged every learner in my classroom regardless of ability level.

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