Caribou 8th Graders Collaborate with Local Historical Society on Student-Created Podcasts

8th grade students Jemma Plucker, Michael Chisholm, and DJ Honeycutt enjoying podcasts and museum artifacts at the June 7 Podcast Listening Party at the Caribou Historical Society Museum.

The Caribou Historical Society hosted Caribou Community School (CCS) 8th-grade podcasters recently, to celebrate the unveiling of student-created podcasts with a listening party and ribbon-cutting ceremony. This event was the culmination of a year-long collaborative project between the two groups.

8th graders began this project when MLTI Ambassadors from the Maine Department of Education visited Caribou Community School to teach students how to use WeVideo to create podcasts. From this learning experience, 8th grade teachers Kim Barnes, Heather Anderson, Troy Barnes, Holly Rhinebolt, and Special Education teacher Twyla Learnard met with Christina Kane-Gibson, director of the Caribou Historical Society to see how 8th grade students might be able to help digitize exhibits at the Caribou Historical Society Museum. 

Gibson loaned local school history artifacts for students to examine in their ELA classes. Artifacts included yearbooks, photographs, lesson plan books, report cards, graduation certificates, and even old PA speakers.  As they worked, students generated questions they had about the history of education in Aroostook County in order to interview retired teachers to really learn what school was like thirty to fifty years ago.  Twyla Learnard, Special Education teacher commented on the impact of the inclusion of all students in this project. Learnard said, “I was astonished to see students who typically struggle academically, delve into the podcast project with such enthusiasm. It allowed them to script, write, story tell, and converse adding a whole new dimension to their learning. The project produced incredible educational dividends!” 

Retired Aroostook Teachers assembled at CCS in March to be interviewed. Diane Fitzpatrick, Ellen Cleaves, Phil Caverhill, Margaret Cyr, Ron Willey, Lou Willey, Denise Levesque, John Hedman, and Dwight Hunter served on an interview panel and they answered question students created from their research. Students enjoyed learning about how different school days were from today, how world events, like the Challenger Explosion and 9/11 impacted students in the classroom, but also came to understand that teachers never really retire. The retired teacher panel was definitely a highlight of the year. Teacher Troy Barnes said about the event, “The beauty of the entire event was how the panel was able to encapsulate a wealth of educational experiences and share these in a way that had the students on the edge of their seats with extreme interest. These educators had been out the classroom for some time, but it was evident that they were still teachers at heart.”

From their research and interviews, twenty-five podcasts about various topics from Snow Days in the Ige Age and Lunch and Recess in the Old Days to Title IX: Sports for Girls and World Events in the Classroom were created. Kane-Gibson said this about the project, “It’s so innovative. The students have been working since February to research, write, and record these listener experiences. The podcasts will be accessible by a QR code that visitors can scan with their smartphones.”

These podcasts will continue to be on display for patrons of the museum to enjoy.