Monday, January 12, 2015

Podcasting - Understanding to Production

What is a podcast?
A podcast is digital file that can be streamed or downloaded to a variety of devices. Most of these are going to be either audio or video files.

Here are a few interesting samples. Some are directly related to the classroom and others are just downright interesting.

1. Scientific American
This site offers a number of super short clips that are updated almost daily. The best part is they are only about 60 seconds long. Some of the topics will be closely related to what you are teaching and other topics are best not played in many classrooms.  I like this clip about what type of device to read on before bed. Is it an iPad or a paper book?

2. NPR
Here is a HUGE list of most every program on NPR around the country.

3. 4th grade - This page has a great selection of realistic fiction written and recorded by a 4th grade class.

4. 5th grade - Listen to these personal narratives recorded by 5th grade students.

5. audioBoom - audioBoom created a page of past projects to help you generate ideas and give you a point of reference of how you can use the tool with your class.

Discovering Podcasts

Method 1

Start with a simple Google search.
There are occasions where Google just won't return any results you can really use.
Method 2
Open iTunes.
Click iTunes Store on the upper right side of the screen.
Scroll to the very bottom. 
Click Podcasts.

Search through the categories for interesting podcasts to listen to.

There is a stand alone app called Podcasts.  Use that app for finding and subscribing.
A great place to start is looking through the New to Podcasts section.

Method 3
Download an app to help you discover and organize all your podcast content.

I use this app exclusively. I heard about it on a podcast and now only use this app for podcast content.
They have Android and iOS versions available on their website. The app does cost $3.99, this was the best app purchase I have ever made. I spend hours a week listening to the TWiT Network and Freakonomics Radio to keep me up to date about topics I am interested in.

How might I use podcasting in the classroom?
Take a minute to listen to the classroom samples in the step above. The students had an exceptionally short mini lesson on how to use the audioBoo (also known as audioBoom) app. One teacher showed a small group of students who where then charged with teaching the rest of the class. The bottom line is the technology does not get in the way of the content.

Podcasting Ideas:
This is a very short list of ideas to get you thinking about what you and your students could podcast about.

1. Something like that super popular Serial podcast. The author records and releases a new chapter about every week. The story is compelling and people keep coming back to hear the new content.  Maybe this is an option for some of your students who write and create at a much faster pace and you are looking for a way for them to reach a different audience.

2. The two classroom samples are a great example of what you could do without a lot of extra work or time. Taking the writing the class is already producing and sharing it with a larger audience.

3. Reenactments or retelling of certain events in social studies. The students team up to record about certain events or topics. After these recording are completed the teams can either present their findings or the class could go on a audio gallery walk within the classroom.

4. Audio tour of your classroom procedures. This could be used for those brand new kids who show up suddenly throughout the year. The new student could be given an overview of your classroom and could potentially be up to speed about how you run your classroom in a very short amount of time.

5. Collect exemplar level works to save as examples for the next semester or year.

6. Have your class create a sound seeing tour during the next field trip. Use those recording to better prepare your class the next time you take the same field trip.

Tips/Things to Ponder:

  • Some students will need to record more than one take. The first time using the app might take a few extra minutes.
  • Record in the hallway to reduce background noise. Can't use the hallway? Have the student sit with their back against a wall. The microphone will then be pointing towards the student and not at the rest of the class. The back against the wall method does help reduce some background noise.
  • Have them practice reading out loud a time or two before recording. The act of pushing the record button can be intimidating at first.
  • Set a firm deadline! Have all recording posted by a certain date much like you would do with a written assignment.
  • Having the students listen to the recordings is a very concrete way to teach about voice. Does it sound more like a story or an informative piece?

Easy steps to creating a podcast.
The idea is to create a quick audio clip that others can listen to without taking too much time.  This kind of narrows down the choices which is why a few teachers use AudioBoo (Audio Boom) as their main podcasting tool.

Getting Started
audioBoom for Education
Schools and universities around the world are embracing audioBoom as the easiest, most effective way to give teachers and students a voice. Audio enriches the curriculum, engages the learner, and creates conversations that build community. Take a look at some amazing ways that audioBoom is reinventing the classroom experience.

There are just three steps to publishing work on audioBoom. Most every audio recording is instantly available for the world to listen to. It might be a good idea to have a discussion centered on digital footprints and how to be a good digital citizen before you begin.

Step 1:
Sign up.  Make sure to pick a username that is recognizable to the public. 
Classroom Cardinals - not sure who those people might be. Is this the class my son is in?
MrDavitt or MrDavittsClassroom - much easier to see who this page belongs to. It appears you are not able to use special characters or spaces in your username.

Step 2:
Down the app. or visit AudioBoom
Sign in and start recording!
Once the recording is upload anyone anywhere can listen.
The student will need to add a title and description to the clip before it will be published.
Note: if your students are under 13 they can't sign up for their own account. What other Lindbergh teachers have done is just login with the teacher account to record and post.

Step 3:
Take the address of your site (example: and publish that on your teacher webpage and social media sites. The new audio clips will be posted under the Activity and/or Post tab.

Want to embed your clips on your blog? Read this.

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