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Giving Students Voice and Choice through Podcasting

This February, I shared with staff the value of giving students pathways in how they demonstrate learning by creating podcasts. I was inspired by an ISTE presentation by Rabbi Michael Cohen and Jeff Bradbury last summer, and a presentation that Glen Irvin Flores gave in November. 

A few staff were interested and so I put together this presentation for students.



I shared how I still remember my 6th grade project where I recorded myself as a 12 year old in Moscow, and my dad interviewed me to demonstrate what life was like in the Soviet Union. (Yes, I'm that old! The collar above gives it away! In addition, I cannot remember any of the multiple choice tests I took to demonstrate learning...) 
I also shared with students that NPR was sponsoring a Student Podcast Challenge, inviting students to ask their teachers to submit their audio file that spoke to one of the following prompts:

  1. Tell us a story about your school or community: about something that happened there — recently or in the past — that your audience should know about.
  2. What is a moment in history that all students should learn about?
  3. Show us both sides of a debate about an issue that's important to you.
  4. What do you want to change about the world? What's a big change that you want to make in the future?
  5. Explain something to us that kids understand and grown-ups don't.
On Friday, March 15, the world awoke to the news of the horrific attacks at the mosques in New Zealand. 

I was feeling pretty down after I heard the news. The rise of hate and extremism left me feeling not very hopefull for our world. Then I received an e-mail from my colleague Laura Mestler. She shared that one of her students, Rahael, had chosen to complete the podcast challenge and that she just submitted it. I decided to take a moment to listen. I invite you to do the same...

I was blown away! This 6th grader so elequently shared her hopes, dreams and ideas for eradicating hate that it immediately made me realize that there IS HOPE! Kudos to Rahael, kudos to NPR and kudos to Laura for taking a chance on giving her students voice and choice in how they share their learning! Podcasts provide authentic opportunities for students to share their learning outside the walls of the classroom. It is another example of how school doesn't just prepare students for real life, it is real life!

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