We Podcasted Today! So, Did you Learn ANYTHING?

Second graders at my school are studying animals in their science unit. They learned about the different characteristics of mammals, reptiles and birds.

If their parents ask them tonight at the dinner table if they learned anything today, the students probably will tell them that they recorded a podcast today!

Will the parents know that they practiced:

  • Collaboration skills : working in groups on different segments of the podcast, tying in and back to a story that was developed by the entire class.
  • Writing skills: creative & descriptive writing, sequencing, editing and revising scripts
  • Speaking skills: speaking slowly, fluently, clearly and with expression in their voices
  • Presentations skills: being able to express themselves orally
  • Communication skills: being able to convey and teach information to others (not only in their physical location and presence, but also in virtual time and from places around the world.
  • Oral fluency: increase awareness of their voice, speed and its rhythm.
  • Auditory skills: practice listening skills, address auditory learning styles
  • (Digital) storytelling skills: being able to weave information and facts preciously learned into a creative story, form a “relationship” with the content presented, entertain others through creative narrative.
  • Media literacy: different types of podcasts (narrative, informational, storytelling, conversational, collaborative, interview style, etc), understanding different components of a podcast episode, being able to express themselves in different media.
  • Information literacy: integrating, expressing and transmitting information in a variety of media.
  • Technology skills: exposure to sound editing software, such as Garageband

Their teacher and I had planned to produce a podcast episode integrating the learning of that science unit. As a class, they brainstormed and decided on a storyline for their podcast. Then they were divided into 4 groups:

  1. Narrators
  2. Mammals
  3. Reptiles
  4. Birds.

We listened to several podcast examples, I created in previous years with other elementary school students.

Each group worked together to write a script that would collaboratively make up the class’ podcast episode.

They were allowed to be as creative as they wanted to be within the parameters set by their teachers and the storyline the class had decided on:

  • Each segment could not be longer than 3 minutes long
  • Each group (except narrators) decided on a particular animal within their animal group
  • They had to integrate the characteristics of the animal by taking on the role of that animal
  • Their script had to includ:
    • characteristics of themselves
    • as many vocabulary and descriptive words as possible

After they wrote and rehearsed their script we started recording. Paying special attention to:

  • Is there interest and enthusiasm in their voices?
  • Is there learning in their voices?
  • Is there pride in what they are accomplishing in their voices?

podcasting

Observations:

  • Some groups worked better together than others. Collaboration skills are as important than ever in the classrooms. In this particular case of working on the script (pre-recording stage), technology tools and skills HAVE NOTHING to do with learning how to work together.
  • As we were working on recording individual groups’ segments, not necessarily in order as they were going to appear in the final podcast, students excitement grew and we heard “I can’t WAIT to hear it” over and over again.
  • Several students did not like the way their voice sounded and asked to re-record their part.
  • There was definitely learning going on as the “weaker” students listened in to the “recording” voices of some “stronger” students. They copied their intonation and “acting” voices.
  • Some students struggled reading their part from the script. I asked them to split their part up into shorter segments and “speak” it, instead of reading it. Once each shorter segment was recorded and we listened to all their segments, we could compare the sound of their voice (fluency) to the one that they had “read” off the paper. What a noticeable difference for everyone to hear.
  • While recording individual group segments, other groups were getting impatient and antsy in their seats. Although important to allow them to learn from the recording process of others, I would have them work on other components in the future. Ex. illustrate their podcast story, typing their script, etc.

Check out some other posts I have written about podcasting in the past:

Listen to the podcast of our second graders.

Leave students feedback here in the comment section. Let them know too where in the world you are from. Comments will surely will be appreciated and be motivating for future podcast episodes by this group. These students worked hard!

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