Creation and innovation are core elements to middle school learning, thanks to Kim Barnes and Heather Anderson, who both teach 8th grade English language arts (ELA) and social studies at Caribou Community School. In a recent unit of study about resiliency, Mrs. Barnes and Mrs. Anderson had the creative idea that podcasting would be a great way for students to demonstrate their knowledge on the topic.
Mrs. Barnes said the idea was conceptualized from the work she did with the revised ELA Standards and thought that podcasting was a truly “authentic way to braid [the] standards into the work [they] were already doing.”
Though they knew they wanted to use podcasting in their unit, Mrs. Barnes and Mrs. Anderson also felt they needed some support with teaching their students the more technical aspects. They reached out to the Department of Education’s Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) Ambassadors who were able to create and present lessons to the Caribou 8th grade students. This all-day event focused on supporting the work Mrs. Barnes and Mrs. Anderson were doing in the classroom, as well as leading the students through the process of podcasting on their Chromebooks. The Ambassadors explained the value and possibilities of podcasting and then demonstrated how to create and edit podcasts using WeVideo. Students then practiced the process of podcasting in pairs or small groups by choosing a topic of their own, or just discussing a predetermined prompt. One group took the opportunity to begin a sports podcast, where they discussed recent events in sports and even planned out how often they should record the podcast in order to continue with it.
From this experience, Mrs. Barnes noticed that the engagement of the students skyrocketed. Students reported that they really enjoyed the creative part of making podcasts and, immediately, many of them began listening to other podcasts outside of class for fun. Some students were also motivated to begin a school podcast.
The busy day proved to be quite fruitful. Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Barnes felt that the event not only helped the students, but it also really energized them, as teachers. One student shared that the work with podcasting “is changing [his] perspective about reading and writing to a more positive one as ELA has always been a struggle for [him].”
This story was written and coordinated by MLTI Ambassador Rob Dominick as part of the Maine Schools Sharing the Success Campaign. To learn more, or to submit a story or an idea for a story, email firstname.lastname@example.org.