I have recently discovered the potential in podcasting as an educational tool. As an English teacher, we are supposed to be teaching communication skills such as writing, reading and speaking. Far too often speaking is overlooked or only touched on a few times throughout the year.
I had an idea of creating a lesson that incorporates the core skills of the English curriculum: have students research a topic, then write a transcript for a podcast and produce a podcast. It doesn't have to be uploaded to any public sites but could be just an audio recording submitted for assessment. This takes the pressure off of kids to present speeches every time they are assessed on verbal skills. This also builds technological skills that students can really use. Students should know how to create audio files in the 21st century and we could be sparking a potential podcast star among our students!
Has anyone done a lesson like this? What are your thoughts?
I've been podcasting with my Honors level Spanish students for a couple of years now. For this particular course they alternate writing blog posts and recording podcasts about something that is important to them. Some topics have been sustainability, snowboarding, film, and other current events.
My students' podcasts are short - between 7-10 minutes, and I allow them to look words up ahead of time, because often they simply haven't come across the specialized vocabulary they need in the normal curriculum. However, they cannot write their podcast ahead of time. They can bring in an outline, but that's it.
I really like doing the podcasts, as I think it allows the students to incorporate high-level grammar and vocabulary into a segment of spoken Spanish, and it tends to stick. In addition it certainly does build technology skills!
Yes, it´s just your standard sound file, which they save in the cloud, and then, they create a link on their blog to that file.
We have the advantage of having a language lab, so we have designated podcast days when we´ll all go, the students will take their outlines, and they´ll all record the podcast at once.
Their homework that evening is to do the editing. To try to minimize the work, as they do the podcast, when they hear themselves make a mistake, I suggest that they do a long pause, and then say the correct version of what they wanted to communicate. That's easy to see when you're editing, so you know that those are the spots where you need to cut out segments. I recommend that they use Audacity, because it´s free, but many of them have Macs, and so their preference is to use Garage Band.
The tricky thing is to explain that saving an Audacity/Garage Band file is not the same as exporting an audio file that everyone can listen to. Also, I have to go over setting permissions for the files once they´re in the cloud so that the links actually work when you´re at the blog and trying to open the podcast file. When the students do their very first podcasts, I have them bring their computers into class, and I walk them through the above steps - but it doesn´t always stick the first time :)
I think podcasting is a brilliant idea for English! I still think there is an extreme importance in having students get used to speeches for an audience, but I also feel like podcasts could be an effective alternative in some cases. Especially, so that a ton of time is not taken while students present their speeches.