Lately I have been working closely with Kathryn Wagner the ESL specialist in the middle school. She teaches a literacy skills course once a semester and last time we were sitting on the beach together a few weeks back in Bayahibe, DR (I swear to you we sat under this very palm tree staring out at the ocean) we started talking about ideas that she could use in her class that would get kids writing and reading, and doing it for enjoyment more than just another tedious assignment. I suggested that She try podcasting and we started talking about what that would look like. While she had only listened to one or two podcasts in her life, she was intimidated by the idea to say the least. As I mentioned that her kids would have to compose what they would say and would be doing authentic writing and communicating, her interest peaked and she began to see the value in this, especially when I reminded her that they would be able to listen to the stuff on their iPods and that we could also host it on the schools website for the school community and beyond to enjoy. However, like a lot of teachers I work with, when I started to mention using sound editing software (in this case we used audacity) and that maybe she would need to set up a website or a blog to host the podcast on, I could see the excitement drain from her as dread took over. I reassured her that I could help her and this would be a great learning experience for her and her kids, that she would learn while her kids learned and therefore they would learn together. I assured her, “It will be awesome…trust me.”
Fast forward three weeks and I have a podcasting lunatic on my hands. Kathryn is now convinced that she is ready to hit the airwaves or should I say “net”waves with her own podcasts. Her anxiety about using audacity has faded and has been replaced by excitement as she uttered those familiar words all tech facilitators crave to hear from thier staff, “that is so cool, and it’s easy.” Kathryn and I set up her blog-SharksCast, and we made a sample podcast together that we put on the blog as well. Today her students actually recorded their clips for their first official Sharkcast. Kathryn and the kids are editing it down and it should be ready soon.
I don’t know about you, but these episodes are the greatest part of my job. Whether it be a student or staff member, I love making them stretch their boundaries of comfort and seeing them grow and learn in the process. Yes, it is cliche teacher stuff, but it is true. Anyway, have a look, cheeck out the blog and send Kathryn an email or better yet comment on her blog. As they say, we’ll keep ‘ya posted.