We’ve been megabusy this week in the Hooch Learning Studio learning about podcasting. 10th Literature/Composition classes from Ms. Harrison, Ms. Garth, Ms. Smith, and Mr. White have participated in a live class podcast using Spreaker, a podcasting platform that allows students to create podcasts through several mediums:
- A web-based application that students can use (helpful in school environments where students can’t download an application like Audacity)
- A downloadable desktop app that works for a PC or Mac.
- Mobile apps for IOS or Android devices
- The ability to upload an audio file a student might record with a tool like GarageBand or Audacity and then upload the file for easy publishing
After some face to face planning with Margaret Garth and then some virtual planning through emails, I began working on the project guide and looking for the best tool to fit our project needs. Though I received many great suggestions from friends in my PLN, I settled upon Spreaker, a tool I discovered on my own. I then began to think about what could I do to introduce Spreaker in a meaningful way to the students.
I decided to actually take on the student research task—students can choose any topic they want, but they will fold the research into the podcast they’ll create. After much waffling about a topic, I became very interested in food deserts and went through the process of presearch, annotating articles and taking some notes, creating my Works Cited list with EasyBib, and then crafting the podcast script. I decided to craft my podcast as an interview with a panel of different experts and individuals impacted by the challenges of food deserts in metropolitan Atlanta. By walking in the students’ shoes, I felt I would be better able to give them some authentic tips and strategies for taking their topic and research to a podcast script and then actual broadcast.
I really enjoyed doing the research (of course, I am a librarian!), but I also loved the creative aspect of folding the research into a podcast script. As I began working through the process of drafting the script, I decided that I would set it up so that students could actually “perform” it as part of a cold read and live broadcast to show them how easy it is to record and publish a podcast with Spreaker. I’ve never done anything quite like that before, but I thought it would be tremendous fun and a great learning experience for all of us. As I worked on drafts and revisions, I found that having students read it aloud with me was a valuable technique for doing traditional sorts of edits but to also “hear” how the podcast might sound and feel with the students. I am thankful for lunch students who graciously agreed to read the script aloud with me!
It took the first day to do a little fine tuning with the pacing and order of activities, but the general game plan for the class period was:
- Briefly introduce the research guide.
- Open Spreaker and showcase the cloud-based “DJ Console” and how to use it to record, mix in bumper music, and add sound effects (Spreaker has a copyright friendly library of this multimedia).
- Introduce the podcast script and get volunteers to read parts.
- Prep the audience on how to support their classmates as listeners.
- Discuss the best tips/strategies for approaching the assignment: topic choice, research, text annotations and notes, resources, drafting/revising/rehearsing the script (this page has those slides plus my text set, my Works Cited link, and a PDF of my script).
The whole experience was intense, exhilarating, and tremendous fun! Here are some scenes from the last few days:
You can hear our live productions on this part of the research guide. Some of our broadcasts turned out a little bit better than others due to wireless connectivity issues, figuring out the best placement for students near the Snowball microphone I purchased, and varying levels of voice projections. I am very appreciative to all of the teachers and their students for the opportunity to work with them and engage the classes as well as their positive feedback!
How did you determine which microphone to get? I am interested in doing this with my students but I am worried because we don’t have a whole lot of money to spend on a nice mic.
Hello! I surveyed different friends in my personal learning network. The consensus was that any microphone in the “Snowball” family was the best choice. When I was in Cherokee County Schools, I received one of the premium Snowball microphones as part of my participation in the Teach21/Media 21 district PD program, so I knew the quality was good. I wound up purchasing a lower grade Snowball with my own money through Amazon prime (we have NO microphones as part of our equipment collection at my current school, something I hope to remedy come fall) to have a good quality microphone for the activity. However, I also have a $20 USB headset microphone I purchased several years ago from Radio Shack that does good quality recording, too. Jennifer Lund and I used this brand of microphone for screencasting, and we liked the quality–I think it could work for solo podcasts.
Thanks! I will look into the Snowball mics.
Thank you for all the detailed tips on this!
You are welcome!
Thanks for this great post. I am an elementary school librarian just starting on the podcast journey.
Did you have enough minutes using the FREE Spreaker version? I am going to purchase the snowball mic. Glad to see that my choice was yours as well!
Where did you “publish” your final content? Did spreaker help you convert the files to MP3?
I want to publish on a specific page on my library website.