Podcasting with First Grade
I found Ms. Tolisano's blog, Langwitches, to be very informative, especially concerning podcasts and using podcasts with your students. The first post of Ms. Tolisano's that I read was titled "Podcasting with First Grade." First grade?! Are your kidding me?! I'm twenty years old and, quite frankly, I find creating a podcast to be terrifying! But sure enough, these first graders created a podcast like champs. They were so excited to be involved in the creating process and you could really hear it in their little voices. For this particular podcast, the students created an "interview" with the main characters in the story Vacation Under the Volcano by Mary Pope Osbourne. Students pretended they were interviewing Jack and Annie about their adventure to Pompeii. The questions and answers were created by the students and when the "script" was finished, each child played a role, rotating the parts of the interviewer, Jack and Annie. Ms. Tolisano said that the children loved to hear their own voices and editing with sound effects. She helped them with their acting voices and fluency to make a more fluid interview. Ms. Tolisano was sure to point out that the students were not focusing on the skills required to make a podcast, but instead they were learning listening, comprehension, and storytelling skills. They were also working on performance and presenting. I loved how excited the children were! Ms. Tolisano did an excellent job making sure the children were engaged and enthused about learning.
I also read Ms. Tolisano's post, Flat Stanley Podcast. I've heard the story of Flat Stanley before but the approach that Ms. Tolisano took was above and beyond. Last year, my nephew came home with a little paper man named Stanley that he was supposed to take with him throughout the day, recording his journeys and when he was finished, he was to send Stanley to a relative. Stanley made his way, through the mail, to my house and I even got to take little ole Stanley to a Mississippi Surge hockey game. I thought that was the cutest idea, until I read Ms. Tolisano's approach to Flat Stanley.
In the book, by Jeff Brown, Stanley is a normal little guy who, one day, gets squished by a bulletin board. One would normally look at this as a problem but, now that he's flat, Stanley can go anywhere through the mail! Instead of sending Stanley through the mail, Ms. Tolisano's students pretended that they were the ones that were flattened and that instead of a bulletin board falling on them, their Smartboard was responsible for the flattening. The assignment was to figure out a location that they were going to "go", research that place, think of sights, smells, and feelings that they would experience, and their transportation to and from their destination. After the assignments were completed, Ms. Tolisano created a podcast with the students briefly explaining their journey. It was absolutely adorable! Like the first graders in the above mentioned blog post, these students were so excited to tell about their pretend getaway and to hear and manipulate their own voices. This project, also, wasn't just about learning to podcast, but instead critically thinking about the story that they had read and applying that to life events. Podcasting, in this sense, is about engaging kids in learning and it is a great tool to do so.
Producing a Podcast
Another post in Langwitches that I read was titled, Producing a Podcast. Like I said before, I am terrified to create a podcast, but if first graders can do it, then I know I can, too! Even though this particular post is about what Ms. Tolisano does when producing podcasts with her students, I also benefited from her approach by applying it to my own learning to podcast. She says that the very first thing that she does is identify the purpose or theme of the podcast (interview, summary style, etc.). Then she prepares her students. In this second step, instead of preparing students, I would be preparing myself by practicing speaking, volume, and fluidity. Thirdly, Ms. Tolisano makes her children familiar with the sound editing software. In my case, I would have to familiarize myself. Next, she records the audio, which I would do, and created segments if working in groups. She then adds transitions and an outro. I think I will use this post as a guideline when making my own podcast. Even though Ms. Tolisano uses these steps with her students, I think it would also be beneficial when creating your own podcast.