In this episode, Kasey chats with Jennifer Conti about the podcasting initiative launched at her school. Jen shares how podcasting can help students meet content standards, explore their interests, learn new skills, tap into the 4 c’s, and engage in authentic learning.
You don’t want to miss this episode!
Jen shares her background as a teacher for 24 years. Nineteen of those were in middle school, which is the level where she currently serves as a Tech Integration Specialist. Her job is to help teachers to use technology to meet the needs of their students.
Engage Students AND Meet Standards with Student Podcasting! Interview with Jennifer Conti
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Engage Students AND Meet Standards with Student Podcasting!
A unique aspect of Jen’s school is its elective program for seventh and eighth-graders. Once a week students choose their elective class based on an area of interest. These classes are taught by teachers, parents, grandparents, and community members as organized by the principal. Jen took this program a step further by offering students an opportunity to podcast about their interests that they are learning about throughout this time.
Jen began by letting students explore the content available in podcasts. Next, students started recording their own content using Google Slides. Jen took their podcasting to the next level when she was awarded $10,000 of grant money. They were able to purchase recording equipment, as well as, professional development for helping all teachers to utilize podcasting in their classrooms.
Building the Podcasting Elective Program
With the help of educator friend, Jake Miller, teachers and students were given hands-on learning with the new recording equipment. Chris Nesi, another educator friend, and podcast producer took time to Google Meet with students and provide feedback. To continue with this feedback, Jen and Chris set up a Flipgrid space for students to upload their episodes.
The best way to get started is to just start. Simple voice recording tech makes it a podcast. There is no need to have fancy equipment or to stream on all the name-brand platforms. Teachers interested in using the podcasting concept should be encouraged by the simplicity.
Exposing students to other student-created podcasts helps students to gain the confidence for sharing their own content. Whether 100 or only 1 person listens to the episode it’s still a podcast and students shared their voices. Jen’s students started simple. They each had a Google Slide to upload their voice recording. They also designed logos and added Slide animation to play on clicks. Eventually, Jen created a Google Site to share their Slides. Here is an introductory Hyperdoc lesson that Jen uses with her students to get started.
Podcasting in ALL Content Areas
As students’ competency grew they began writing their own scripts and inviting guests for interviews. They are owning their podcasts and having a whole lot of fun doing it. While Jen’s kids may be creating for an elective this concept for students to show what they know can be used in content classes as well.
Consider how students might use a podcast as an assessment tool. Students can present their learning on any topic without having to write it all out or record with their faces being displayed. Of course, writing out their ideas first is an option and one that can help many students. The opportunity to record their writing can also help students to hear mistakes and make edits. Reading their writing aloud also helps students gain fluency skills. When students have an authentic audience and experience they take more pride in their work.
Jen knew her students had arrived at that next level when students in other grades were talking to her students in the halls as their podcasting persona. Kids are well versed in the video creation world of YouTube and see how the professionals create nicknames or slogans.
With the grant money, Jen was able to purchase 12 Blue Yeti microphones. They simply plug into a computer or Chromebook with a USB. Students were able to Google directions for how to get them up and running. They also purchased sound boxes to give students specific spaces to record.
For the younger students, Jen started using iPads and microphone headsets to help them to record their voices. Teachers are excited to start their elementary students recording their voices.
In the beginning, students would record for 60-90 seconds. Now students have built up to 12 minutes. Soundtrap for EDU allowed students to add music and talk for longer on their topics of interest. Jen shares how one student interviewed her for 20 minutes about the Harry Potter series. Students were surprising themselves with how long they could talk on their topics.
Jen shares how students are beginning to see how these skills can help them explore career choices. They are recognizing the professionals in the field of podcasting and video production. It’s opening their eyes to the aspects of production that they enjoy and excel in.
Jen hopes to expand the podcasting project into all classrooms. Sharing this project helps to give students a tangible growth mindset work ethic. Teachers at Jen’s school who have implemented podcasting or voice recording are already guiding students when they ask to try again for a better recording.
Jen is also working on an ELA project with our 5th grade and Literacy Enrichment teachers to help students “Show What They Know” about Summarizing, Character Analysis, and Sequencing. We are “App Smashing” with Canva, Google Slides, Flipgrid, Fake Text Message, and Slidesmania.
This school year the teachers of Immaculate Heart of Mary are focusing on aligning standards and assessments. They opened the school year with a PD analyzing the verbs in our standards and aligning assessments to match those verbs. It was REALLY eye-opening for some teachers! The principal, two teachers, and Jen were on a podcast episode for the Diocese of Cleveland talking about the goals for this project. Take a listen!
Up next for Jen is a virtual PD workshop through Kent State University. A semester course, Innovative Teaching, and Learning: Integrating Digital Tools to Engage Your Learners, where educators can work at their own pace on tech tools like movie trailers, Pear Deck, Flipgrid, podcasting, and so many more. The course is open to all educators for $75 and graduate credit through Kent State is also available.
About Jen Conti
Jen Conti is a proud alum of Kent State University’s College of Education, Health & Human Services. She brings 24 years of classroom and tech integration experience helping students and teachers use tech in innovative ways. She is a Google Certified and Flipgrid Certified Educator. She has presented at multiple local and state conferences and has worked on several Curriculum Planning Teams for the Diocese of Cleveland. She was also part of the Blended Learning with Google Book Launch Team. Her passion is helping other teachers bring learning alive in their classrooms!
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