Elementary Student Podcasting - New Season

#edtech #teaching #podcasting - I just uploaded the first 5 episodes of the new podcasting crew here at Bethke Elementary in Timnath, Colorado. Each episode is the morning news for our school. The students range from 3rd to 5th grade and did fantastic for their first time at podcasting. We will do our first video show tomorrow morning. http://www.bethkeelementary.com/kbob-studios.html

Podcasting is a great use of school technology to develop 21st Century Skills in our students.

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Big Changes for Podcasting Studio - #edtech

Last year was a huge trial-run for the students at my school. We wanted to see if it was really possible for elementary students to podcast a daily school news show -- which they did. So now that my students have proven to be great podcasters, it is time to change some things in the studio.

Change #1: Change from a laptop to a desktop computer. The laptop kept getting "borrowed" for other school projects, so it is time to have a dedicated podcasting computer.

Change #2: New soundboard software. We decided to go with the Sitter Downers Soundboard, which is freeware and really easy to work. The students love to add sound effects and music to their live podcasts.

Change #3: Record directly to Audacity. Last year we recorded to a digital voice recorder, then took it into iTunes to convert the file to MP3 and then into Audacity for editing. Now we have streamlined the process.

Change #4: Two hosts are better than one. This year I want to use two hosts, we were already set up with the mics and mixer, so this is a natural progression that should make for a better show.

Stay tuned, we start our new podcasting season in a few weeks.

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Teaching Creativity Through Projects

Today I would like to focus my blog post on what I believe is the best what to teach 21st Century Skills and school technology to our students -- projects. The school I taught at before coming to my current school was a PBL or Project-Based Learning school. This meant that most of the concepts and skills that were being taught to students were part of a larger projects -- students love to learn this way. Although most schools really do work this way, this school had made it part of it's formal identity. Just to be clear, my current school teaches a lot through projects as well.

Here is a rough idea at how project-based learning works...

Step One: Define -- give your students a real-world problem or process and ask them to make things better, easier, faster, cheaper, more effective or more enjoyable. This is usually done through a question. For example, in fifth grade this coming year my question might be: "If you lived during the Renaissance, what would you have done to get your work noticed? So that people would be talking about your work hundreds of years later."

Step Two: Plan -- students need to take time to understand information about the subject, through study and research students can use school technology to be better equipped to answer the above question.

Step Three: Do -- using different techniques students then do the project, in the case of the Renaissance question, I will ask my students to produce a podcast.

Step Four: Review -- student finish the project by reviewing each others work and by posting their projects online for the world to see.

If has been my experience that project-based learning can be one of the best ways to teach 21st Century Skills and technology to our students. Rather than just teaching them a random skill like how to edit audio -- just make learning the skill part of a much larger project.

Students and Technology -- Finding the right fit.

Every Friday some of my 5th grade students put together their own web-show for the school and the 1800+ subscribers we have on iTunes. (Not 180 as Nikki says in the intro)

Although the above video looks fun and natural and you are amazed that it is completely 100% student-made, the truth is that it took us quite a few tries to get it right...

We started the year with wanting to do a Friday show. We tried it pre-recorded and the first episode was over 17 minutes long -- way too long for a school morning show. Plus we had to put in a lot of editing time.

Then we changed the format a little and still it didn't work.

We just kept trying week after week, looking for the right fit for us.

You see, as the adult and teacher, I had a vision of what I wanted the show to look like, even though the kids had no idea what it takes to make a great show. So we just kept trying.

Weeks went by with shows that were okay, but they still were not "it."

We were about six months into the school year when we finally moved things into our little studio (we were shooting in the huge media center) and we went live. Shooting the show live was the best move we made. It really forced the kids to practice and work hard to get it right the first time. Before we would just keep shooting a segment until we got it right -- like 10 takes to get the school lunch segment done. Now we just run with it.

My point is this: as the adults we need to have the vision of what a good quality digital product will look like, we then put together the necessary school technology, provide the training and then keep trying until you can get what works for you and you students. My students know that my bar is high, but I will give them whatever support is needed to help them get there. Never settle for just "okay" when it comes to students and digital products.

No Podcast Today

I know that you were all looking forward to episode number 1 of The School Technology Podcast, but it just didn't work out.

I had Darren Atwood, a high school art and technology teacher, from Alberta, Canada and Kristin Tarnas, a fifth grade teacher from Hawaii all connected and being recorded but I was just not happy with the sound quality. I don't know if it was just the distance between us, or the WiFi, or what.

I am going to make a few phone calls this week to see what I can do to improve things and we'll try again next week.

If any of you out there might be able to help, here are our specs: We were all using MacBooks and iChat. I think we were all on WiFi (which might be the culprit) and I used GarageBand to record it all. The problem was that the audio kept dropping, so part of sentences would be missed.

Thank  you for your patience and hopefully you'll be able to hear us next week.

The School Technology Podcast

While up in Canada this past weekend I met up with an old friend (a fellow edtech geek) and we started talking about school technology, of course. After spending hours talking about everything from iPads to student music videos we decided that what we needed was a podcast about all these cool things we were talking about.

So I put the word out on a couple of Nings that I am a member of, asking for people who wanted to be panelists and discuss the world of educational technology. I got back a great response and I have put together some great shows ideas that we will record each Sunday night for the next couple of months.

My goal is to produce a podcast that is about 20 minutes long and has people from all over talking about fresh ideas and news regarding the different technology that we use in our schools -- success stories mostly, but we will talk about some things that haven't works as well.

If you have any ideas for subjects that we could talk about or if you would like to be a panelist, just email me.

Please come back Monday and listen to our first school technology podcast.

Podcasting Students - The Lazy Way

I got quite a few emails about yesterday's blog on students that podcast, it seems that a lot of you want to know how my students podcast everyday.

First of all let me just say that my 5th grade students practically podcast by themselves, I am usually just outside the podcasting studio working at my desk. Here is how it all happens...

The assigned students show up at school 15 minutes early. I assign each student a certain day for two months, this gives them enough time to get past being nervous. So for example, one student might be the host for every Tuesday show and another might be the sound-tech for every Monday show. It only takes two students to do a podcast.

The students come into our studio (a room just off of our media center) and start to get the show ready.

The Host:
This student takes a new fill-in-the-blank script and starts by putting in their name and the sound tech's name. Then they fill in the date, announcements, what the hot lunch of the day is and then the sound tech will look up the lunch recess weather and they fill that in as well. They look up any birthdays and finally they look for a joke in a kid's joke book.

The Sound Tech:
This student sits down to the studio laptop, looks up today's lunchtime weather and starts up a soundboard program. The soundboard is loaded with our sound effects and music tracks (royalty-free music). The student does a quick sound check and the waits to do a rehearsal.

Both students do a rehearsal about 6 minutes before "show time."

The Show:
Just before the show starts the sound tech will start our digital recorder and then signals the host to begin. They do the show, complete with music and sound effects and then bring me the digital recorder as they go off to their first class.

Post Show Production:
I take the digital recorder and copy the MP3 to my computer and upload to our website which is connected to our iTunes account which means the show is listed on iTunes with a few hours of being posted on our website. Done, my time is about three minutes to do all of this. I told you I was a lazy podcaster! Podcasting is one of the easiest pieces of school technology to incorporate into your schools.

To check out our podcasting, go to iTunes and search for KBOB or Bethke Elementary.

Podcasting 10-Year-Olds

Today I had the chance to show off my podcasting 10-year-olds. It was part of a demonstration I was giving on what 4th grade students are capable of doing with current school technology.

So in front of 450 local business leaders my two little podcasters did it. I am telling you, I have never been so proud. They were fearless.

I have been podcasting with my students for the past year. Every day they do a podcast of the school announcements each with a little personal twist of their own style. At first it was difficult to get it all together but then we started to work out the bugs and now the students run the whole show. They have over 1700 subscribers on iTunes -- students from all over the world.

The digital natives of today are so used to seeing the world as a potential audience.

You just wait, it won't be long before they are wanting their own dressing rooms with a star on the door.

If you would like to hear our podcasters, go to iTunes and search for KBOB.