Monday, March 2, 2020

Not Just Students, PODCASTERS! Sharing Our Learning One Episode at a Time

What do you hear when you listen to student created podcasts in Mrs. Webster’s class? Excitement, love of reading, love of writing, kindness, empathy, teamwork,  student ownership, laughter, different personalities. Mrs. Webster’s student podcast hosts have EXCEEDED expectations as they make their voice, passions, and learning come to life on a regular basis. Mrs. Webster quotes it best, “These students are meeting the expected standards of learning without even realizing how much thought and work they are putting into it. They just think it’s fun!" She adds, “These pod-casters are writing, coming up with their own plan, reading, summarizing, reflecting and creating.  I feel like they are truly owning their own learning.”

An Ongoing Routine: 
Mrs. Webster's Podcast Wall 
At the beginning of the year, Mrs. Webster had all of her students set up their own Padlet wall as a platform to house podcast episodes. She also had each student include their podcast on a class podcast wall to mimic a Podcast app where listeners can access different podcasts at any given time. Students started the year reviewing podcast expectations and best practices. “When we first started, I would assign a reflection or give students an idea for a book recommendation podcast. Now, students are coming up with their own topics. Mrs. Webster adds, “Along with requesting to review books, some students have even created their own podcasts based on discussing friendships, positive vibes, and funny times.”

Mrs. Webster doesn’t grade podcasts or require a certain number of episodes. This is why seeing that some students have 10-15 episodes is so powerful. Mrs. Webster has also equipped her students to be quality control for the episodes. “As a class, we listen to each other and give feedback on the planning, pausing, summarizing, pacing, etc.” In regards to making time for podcasting, podcast reflections have become a part of Mrs. Webster's afternoon ELA stations. If some students are unable to get to the podcast station, they make time for them to complete the next morning first thing.

Emery, Claire, Nick, and Henry have especially enjoyed their podcasting journey. Emery states, “I love being a podcaster because I get to tell people how I feel, what I’ve been working on, and what I’ve learned.” Henry adds, “I like that I get to work with a partner and choose what my podcast is about.” Claire’s favorite part of podcasting is interviewing other people to see what they’ve read and how they’re doing. Nick loves that they get to work and have fun at the same time.

SEL (Relationship Skills and Social Awareness)
Emery and Claire Working Together to Record an Episode
“Podcasting is a process,” says Emery. “You have to stay focused. If you get too funny, the people listening won’t understand what you’re saying. Claire and I have to work together to make our podcast come to life. We’ve learned that we can’t interrupt each other and need a clear written plan” Emery and Claire talk about resolving conflict when they have had hard times deciding who was going to get to share certain parts of their episode. It’s neat to hear how podcasting has helped Claire become aware of other’s feelings. “Sometimes we just have to pause and talk if we start to argue,” she says. “We’ve learned each other’s strengths.” Emery adds, “for example, Claire is really good at explaining characters and how they act.”

Nick has realized that through his podcasts, he has the opportunity to encourage others. He states, “If someone is sad, we might be able to cheer them up. We try to be really positive. My favorite episode is number eight when I’m talking about my friendship with Henry.” In this episode Nick and Henry talk about their similarities and differences, but how they’ve remained friends regardless of their differences.

Making Connections
Not only have these students learned to collaborate together and think about their partner and audience, they’ve also learned to apply character traits and feelings to their own lives. After recording an episode about Jory Jones’ Book, "The Bad Seed," Claire points out, “This book teaches you how people have their own personalities,” she adds “If you don’t like how someone acts, the lesson is to be kind and make sure people feel welcome.” On this episode, Emery asks, “ Is there anything in this book that relates to you?” Claire responds by talking about her ornery brother and how she should be kind even when it's hard

"Knowing that we're going to record a podcast over the books we've read, makes reading even more purposeful." Claire adds, "Podcasting makes me more excited about what I’m reading. It makes me think about how the characters are feeling and how characters change, so I can talk about it on the podcast." Emery points out, "We go back to our books to remember how characters were feeling. Their actions show how they’re feeling."

In addition to recording episodes about books they've read, students have written their own stories and fairy tales! They’ve enjoyed interviewing each other as authors. Emery recorded an episode over a story that Claire wrote, titled, “Lucky Puppy.” On the episode Claire states, “This book really has a connection to me and my life when I was little.”
Mrs. Webster states, "I love all of the episodes, but some of my favorites are when the students make connections with the books they have read and discuss how a book may have impacted them deeply. There seems to be something magical that happens within the physical act of talking it out for them on a podcast. When students are recording in a smaller group, they tend to express deeper thoughts than maybe they would have written down or shared in a whole group setting. At times, they can get really deep and other times they can get really silly, but overall, they feel completely safe in sharing their unique personalities and creative ways throughout the podcast, and this I absolutely LOVE with all my heart!"

Next Steps: 
Sharing Our Podcasts at Expo 2020
These students got to share about their podcasting journey last Thursday at Expo 2020. It was a powerful presentation as these students shared an ongoing routine that means so much to them.

Henry would like his next episode to be about a current favorite book of his, "Flames of The Tiger" by John Wilson. I'm sure there are many more podcast episodes to come from Webster's 3rd grade class. They are also interested in sharing their episodes outside the walls of their classroom, possibly with one of their favorite authors.

Explore Claire's Podcast and the Writing Template Students Used to Prepare: 

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