Monday, February 18, 2013

The Power of Podcasting!


Greetings Friends! I hope that this finds you enjoying your holiday...that is if you were given today off. This is the first time we have had this holiday off for a few years and it is nice to have an extra day added to my weekend.

 Today, I wanted to share a brief post about pod-casting in the classroom.

Probably four years ago, I used some of my yearly allotment of supply money and invested in headphones with microphones for each of my then, 15 students. The headsets were about $4 each, and I felt something that I could easily afford. (I bought more last year and the same sets were now over $10 each- holy inflation Batman!)  Here is what I bought:
Apparently right now they are back to $7- so not as bad. Anyways, armed with the hardware, I asked our computer tech to arm us with the software for recording. She found some great free software that was easy for the students to use. I can not for the life of me remember what the program is at this moment, but if you do a search for FREE PODCAST SOFTWARE, you will get quite the list. I have used Audacity before, and it works great, just a little more involved for the recording.

After we were armed with our hardware and software, it was time to begin. Over the past 4 years, I have done several pod-casting sessions with my students. Some classes can handle doing 3-5 pod-casts in the given year, some can only handle one. But, I will tell you that the requirements that I give force them to use their reading, writing, fluency, and technology skills at a high level, and challenges all ranges of students in my classes.

The first podcast I have my students do is ALWAYS their favorite book. This is great because my low readers have to think of a book they have finished and my high-level students have to carefully select from a long list. Those middle-level students are happy because they simply have a book or two to choose from and share. For an example of what those sound like click HERE. Students had to meet specific criteria to earn top marks. At least 30 seconds but not more than a minute, had to mention the author, number of pages in the book, short summary of the book, and their favorite part (that wouldn't ruin the ending). As you will see on the link I shared, some made it, some did not.

However, the process of writing a script, reading it to a partner, refining the script, reading it again. Timing themselves, editing their work, double checking to ensure all components were met, and then finalizing a master script were ALL worth the time. I didn't give them much in-class time to work. A ten minute block here a 5 minute block there. When the day came to record, every student was ready to read SOMETHING!

The recording process is something that is a bit more complex, but doable. I gave my students a visual demo in the classroom and then walked them through the program in our computer lab. You only have to do this part once, the first time you record. After that, most kids remember what do to for the next time.

This is where the FLUENCY PRACTICE pays off- students had to record their entire podcast in one recording. I wasn't going to teach them to edit their audio files- AND they needed to be pushed to read fluently for 30 seconds. Some students did it in 3 tries, some took over 17 tries. I was afraid they would get mad and quit- but they didn't. They kept hitting that record button. Another victory in that even my lowest readers, who struggled with this, didn't give up.

This year, I have only managed ONE pod-cast so far. But I have more planned. This is my dream schedule of topics each year:
1- Favorite Book
2-Science Topic
3-Social Studies Topic-
4-Book Report Podcast
5- Health/Anti-Bullying Podcast
6- End of Year- Favorite Memory/Event

We never get to all of them. Realistically it can take several weeks to accomplish just ONE podcast. Once the students have their BEST podcast recorded, I upload them to our class wiki to share with the world.  Knowing the anyone with internet could hear them, makes them even more serious about recording well.

So, now that I have rambled on, I hope that it made sense. Pod-casting might be outdated, I don't know, but the skills that could be covered are amazing. With test prep looming on the horizon, you could have students make pod-casts about review topics and more.

Be inspired, be creative, and continue to BE AMAZING! Thanks for joining us here at All Things Upper Elementary.

-Mr. Hughes


  1. I love podcasting. Our writer's workshop program requires a "celebration" at the end of each unit. Once I made a podcast by scanning students' stories and recording them reading their story. It turned out great and the students loved it.

    Eclectic Educating

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I love how you have incorporated podcasts. WAHOO! Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this. I recently received IPods for my classroom and so desparately want to start podcasting.

    Happy Teaching,
    TIPS: Teach, Inspire, and Prepare Students

    1. WAHOO! I KNOW you are going to love it. It can be a bit scary and maybe even a little overwhelming the first time- but after that- it's a piece of cake. I wish you great success. If you have questions or need help let me know! :)

  3. This is something that I have wanted to do for such a long time now. I think I am just scared, but you have given me the motivation to get busy and try it with my students. Thanks!


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