Sunday, February 13, 2011

Podcasting! A Powerful Learning Tool!

We’re Podcasting In First Grade!  

Podcasting allows my students to participate in an interactive, technology project that motivates the youngest learners. As we know, learning doesn’t just happen at desks anymore! Currently, in my classroom we produce podcasts and use them for reader’s theater. Our next step will be to use podcasts to reinforce and explain our thinking in Math! Podcasts can be created for many venues. The opportunities for these valuable learning tools are endless.

I started using podcasting three years ago thanks to the help and support of my school based technology specialist. Originally, we began the project as a technology integration lesson during our computer lab time. By facilitating the practice of the reader’s theatre scripts during my guided reading groups, my students worked on fluency, expression, and comprehension strategies prior to entering the computer lab to record their voices. The students’ enthusiasm was contagious and it wasn’t long until my young learners were recording their first podcasts!

Here’s What We Do! 
In our small, guided reading groups, we begin by choosing a Reader’s Theatre play. Many of our favorite scripts are taken from Scholastic’s book, 25 Emergent Reader Plays Around the Year. After we choose the play, I model the script for my students. Our first few interactions with the script are focused on the students reading the entire play, similar to that of a leveled book. After I listen in, model reading strategies, and support individual students, we retell the script and make connections. Then, we get to the students’ favorite part – assigning roles in the play! Next, we highlight the appropriate parts and practice our fluency and expression! We take turns reading. “Why do we do this?” My students will say, “It’s fun!”  As educators we know that as students listen to fluent reading, the students hear what good readers sound like and they are anxious to imitate the teacher! This necessary step of rereading the script supports the children’s experience to practice reading with expression. I also duplicate extra copies of the play and encourage the children to practice the scripts in the classroom and at home as part of their nightly take home reading assignment. Due to the high level of student engagement, we are ready to produce the podcast just after two or three guided reading sessions. We use audacity or SMART board recorder to produce these audio files. A microphone is also beneficial to the process as it amplifies the students’ voices. Within three short takes, we have an electronic file that’s ready to share!  (Audacity is a free download.  Click for the link to Audacity.)

If you are new to podcasting, you may want to know that podcasting is an audio or video file that can be automatically accessed by a personal computer, downloaded and transferred to an mp3 player! Remember, you do not need an iPod or a handheld to be part of podcasting. Here are a few, helpful links regarding podcasting in elementary classrooms to get you started:

Podcasting supports best instructional practices, improves student engagement, demonstrates content knowledge, facilitates cooperative learning, provides feedback, and improves communication skills in a standards based classroom. I encourage you to give podcasting a try. I can’t wait to hear how you use podcasting with your young learners!  A classroom community, a school community, a global community awaits! 

Good luck and Happy Podcasting!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome!! I am just getting started with Podcasting!! We actually did our first one in January! I have used a few of them as a running record tool for families to listen how the reader has developed over time --but I LOVE the idea of using them for readers theater!! I am a K teacher -- Thanks for sharing a FANTASTIC spin on something that I am already trying to do!!! Awesome!!

    Sarah Hetrick
    K Teacher
    Rural Iowa School


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