One of the Eight Core Tools Jeffco EdTech is supporting this year is Soundtrap, a robust yet simple-to-use audio recording and editing app for grades 3-5. This post will explore why podcasting is a great project to pursue with your students, regardless of content area, and how to get started with your first project! We’ll also check in with a couple teachers in Jeffco already using podcasting to great effect in their own classrooms.
Podcasts have exploded in popularity over the past few years. Everyone from media conglomerates to best-selling authors to stand up comedians to news outlets have found a new voice through podcasting. Interested in History? There are podcasts for that! True crime? News? Music? Trivia? There are podcasts for all that too! Simply put: a podcast is an audio file covering a given topic. More established podcasts are published on a regular schedule such as weekly, monthly, etc. But often, podcasts are created and published as a stand-alone/one-time event.
“What do I need in order to get started?” - Less than you think! Most podcasts can be made with only a quiet space and a Chromebook. A good-quality microphone and some headphones are nice additions, but not necessary.
“How many people do I need to create a podcast?” - It is absolutely possible to have students create individual podcasts, however, the workflow and format of a podcast lends itself to a small group as well. NPR has a great “Getting Started with Podcasts” page that describes some of the roles students may play in podcasting. Keep in mind you can combine these or assign more than one person to the same role, depending on your assignment or class format.
Helpful hint: Being mindful in how you assign students to roles (perhaps your producer is also your editor on a project) may save you some headaches around classroom management down the line! For instance, some roles might be busier during the beginning of the project. How can the editor be helpful during that point in the workflow? Can they assist in research?
“OK, what do we talk about?” - Anything that is genuine to your content area! In math class, it may revolve around how students solved a difficult problem. In Science, perhaps it’s a debrief of an experiment they recently completed. In English, maybe it’s an opportunity to practice storytelling or creating a skit.
NPR offers a variety of prompts for podcast topics that can work in different content areas…
But how does it connect to content?
ALL of the Jeffco Generations Skills can be grown and practiced with a student-created podcasting project!
Podcasting in action
There are a number of teachers in Jeffco already working with students to create podcasts about the world around them. Here are a couple teachers making podcasts work for their content!
Andrea Pless at Kyffin Elementary has successfully integrated podcasting into a few different standards-aligned projects over the past two years.
Her students practiced reading fluency by creating short podcasts for younger students at Kyffin, reading picture books and creating their own turn-the-page tone. Students in other classrooms can then read along with their own book at a later time. Talk about a 21st Century book buddy system!
A group project she’s used involves students reading short stories (before creating the podcast) and using the podcast to discuss their personal connections to the stories. She houses all these student achievements on her website, The Plessroom. On her website, you’ll also find notecatchers and rubrics she’s used with her students.
In addition, each year, Ms. Pless works with a small group of students to serve as her website and Soundtrap experts. They support other students in their learning and teach their classmates about the features and uses of Soundtrap.
When asked about her biggest piece of advice for teachers who are thinking about diving in, she says “Go for it!” She explains most students are more native to technology in some form or another and besides the Soundtrap Intro video (linked below) and some basics of where to find which capabilities, students are quick to latch on to the workings of Soundtrap, as long as they have a product they are working toward. Don’t worry that you need all the answers!
John Swartz at Moore Middle School regularly publishes a Podcast with his 6th graders. This podcast is entering its second year and discusses upcoming community events and features interviews with teachers, students and other community members from the Pomona articulation area.
Here's a link to the Pomona Area Podcast page! Happy listening!
There are countless resources available for teachers to get their students started. As Soundtrap is the supported audio recording app for Jeffco, here are a couple links to get you going!
Soundtrap Crash Course
Soundtrap Lesson Plans
Other websites and resources...
NPR’s A Guide for Students (Getting Started with Podcasting)
Lesson plan to create a podcast from Rosen Digital
Project Audio: Teaching Students How to Produce Their Own Products