The April 2008 Podcasting Grant judging is completed! Click here to see the applications from the three Grand Prize Winners!

Here are the grant applications of our three runner-up finalists.

Lindsey Thompson, Shenandoah Middle School

Middletown, IN 47356

Lesson Title: Remarkable Raider Radio
Shenandoah Middle School, home of the Raiders, is located in rural Indiana and has approximately 350 students. As the 6th grade writing teacher, I act as the bridge to connect the curriculums of the other core classes our students take each day: language arts, social studies, math, and science. Students at this age often have difficulties seeing or wanting to see the connections between classes—blurting out comments like, “This is writing! Why do I have to think about science in here!?”—but the use of technology is a motivating factor that can overcome those difficulties and allow them to better understand how interconnected the world is. Podcasting is an ideal way to make meaningful connections between curriculums and to improve students writing and speaking skills.

This grant would allow me to create Raider Radio as an integral part of the 6th grade writing curriculum. With this project, each of the six sections of writing will be divided into smaller groups, and each group will be responsible for creating a radio episode at the end of each major unit of study. Podcasting not only makes it relatively easy to connect curriculum, it will also inspire students to produce higher quality work because the examples of their peers will be more readably accessible, and students are more likely to fully prepare for an assignment that has the potential to reach the world than one meant only for the teacher’s eyes. Throughout the year, the Raider Radio podcast would act as a way to present and showcase the accomplishments of the 6th graders and the community as a whole. Podcasting in the classroom will become not merely an additional activity, but an interactive and integral way for students to demonstrate they have mastered the content and the skills they have been taught.

At the end of each six-week grading period, we will be producing podcasts that tie together the curriculum of the five core classes students take. While a variety of topics are covered in classes—everything from bullying to the countries of South America—our environmental responsibility unit will serve as an example for how podcasting will enhance our 6th grade curriculum.

1. In writing, language arts, science, math, art, and social studies, students will focus on various aspects of environmental responsibility and global warming. Students will learn what global warming is and how it is affecting various parts of the world. Students will learn data analysis using information related to global warming. Students learn to research using environment-related topics, and they learn persuasion in order to convince people to be more environmentally aware and responsible. Students will also create recycled art.

2. At the end of the unit, students will create a capstone project tying together what they learned in each of the six participating classes. This project will be a podcast which allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Students will choose how they demonstrate their knowledge, choosing from traditional news radio broadcasts, songs, radio dramas, poetry, interviews, or other teacher-approved forms. Students will plan the podcasts using the episode planners, timelines, and other planning worksheets from the Tool Factory Worksheet Station. This will help students improve organization and help them to meet the state standards for writing as they reinforce the skills we have covered in class like outlining, researching, and revising. These worksheets will guide students through what they are supposed to do in a clear, organized manner. The Tool Factory’s Simple Guide to Podcasting will also prove to be a valuable resource for both the teacher and the student as we prepare for the podcasts and then move toward actually creating them.

3. Once students have developed a script for their podcasts, they will record them using Tool Factory Podcasting software, the Olympus Digital Voice Recorders, and the headphones with connected microphones. Having multiple ways to record the podcasts will provide flexibility and efficiency in the classroom, as our four computers are right next to each other, and if all groups attempted to record at the same time, there would be a great deal of voice overlap. Having both the devices eliminates that complication because groups can record at the computers, in a quiet corner, and even in the hallway. The digital voice recorders also make it possible for students to record their thoughts and reactions on fieldtrips or to interview people and incorporate their words into the podcasts.

4. Students will then edit and revise their recordings using the Tool Factory Podcasting software. Students will use the Tool Factory Clip Art Station, digital cameras, and scanners to incorporate pictures that enhance their podcasts.

5. Completed podcasts will be uploaded to the internet using the Tool Factory Web Page Station. This will allow students to connect with their peers in other classes, their parents, and the world at large. This is especially important for students in small rural towns because they often feel isolated and not part of the world, but podcasting can help overcome that.

Creating Raider Radio would be a wonderful opportunity for the students at Shenandoah Middle School. Raider Radio is a way to significantly improve student confidence and student learning. This will improve students’ writing skills as they prepare their podcasts; podcasting and the podcasting tools can also help the students who suffer from writing apprehension and/or a learning disability who find it extremely difficult to move words from their heads to the paper. By recording their thoughts, they can then simply type what they had said. This will do a great deal to boost their writing confidence and skills. Additionally, podcasting presents itself as a bridge between speaking and public speaking. Many students are terrified of public speaking, but as they gain more confidence broadcasting their voices through podcasting, speaking in front of people will become easier. Raider Radio and podcasting represent a meaningful way for students to demonstrate their mastery of state standards, to increase their self-confidence, and also to connect to the outside world.

Vanessa and Kelly Russell and Fisher, Brecksville-Broadview Heights Middle School

Broadview Heights, OH 44147

Lesson Title: Science Sleuths
As collaborating seventh grade teachers, we plan to implement Podcasting into our Science classrooms through “Mrs. Russell’s/ Mrs. Fisher’s Science Sleuths” news program. Working in teams, students will create a news program to share science concepts with fellow classmates and the community. Students will investigate many topics including, cell organelles, types of Scientists, mitosis, meiosis, evolution, genetics, classification, weather, atmosphere, and the environment.

It is well known that students retain and understand concepts better when they teach them to others. In the “Science Sleuths” program students will become the teachers. Students will create newscasts including interviews, news bulletins, weather forecasts, jingles and commercials to educate their peers. These broadcasts will reinforce concepts for both the presenting students and the student audience. Students will also be able to review past episodes for extra help.

For example, in one program during our genetics unit students may broadcast a top story on “Genetic Greats”. First they could mock interview some of the leading scientists who pioneered the study of heredity. The students could take an imaginary trip back in time and interview the Austrian monk Gregor Mendel. They could tour and describe the father of genetics’ personal pea plant garden.

During the commercial break a new product could be advertised. A student developed infomercial on the “Clone Me 2008” will describe a new and improved cloning machine for home use.

Finally, the “Science Sleuths” will conclude their programming with an interview with a real practicing scientists and carrier of a genetic disorder. The students will visit the research facilities to conduct their interviews and explore this interesting field of science. This quest encourages students to use higher order thinking skills to further develop their understanding of science concepts. This is one of many ways that “Science Sleuths” explore our science curriculum and the entire class will benefit from the experience.
Students will begin by using Tool Factory's Simple Guide to Podcasting in order to learn the best techniques for making a great Podcast.

Tool Factory Podcasting Site License, Olympus Digital Voice Recorders, Headsets and Microphones will be used to create the student newscasts. Recorders will be used by students for interviews, fieldtrips, or classroom discussions.

The Worksheet Station Storyboard Worksheets and Script Writing Worksheets will be utilized to outline student ideas before beginning a Podcast.

The Clip Art Station coupled with digital photos will add visual creativity to the newscasts. In addition, sound effects will enhance the episodes.

Finally, the Web Page Station will allow student broadcasts to be published online. The newscasts can then be easily accessed in school, at home, or from any computer for extra review. The Podcasts will share classroom learning and accomplishments with parents and the community.

Laura Dwyer, Belmont Middle School

Belmont, NH 03220

Lesson Title: SCSI - Student Crime Scene Investagators and Podcasting

“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
~ John F. Kennedy

Students truly want to fulfill John F. Kennedy’s prophecy. However, without a strong understanding of the legal system and its fundamental principals they are unprepared for this challenge. Investing in civic education is a win; win situation with a 110% return and the Podcasting equipment will help provide my students with the real world educational experiences that will provide this understanding.

Belmont Middle School is a 5-8 school nestled in the heart of Belmont New Hampshire. As the schools new Gifted and Talented Teacher I have the pleasure of working with a variety of students and teachers in grades 5-8. I have been teaching Mock Trial as part of my program for the past seven years. This is my first year at Belmont and I have the incredible opportunity to introduce this wonderful program to the students of Belmont. My goal is to expand the program’s creative edge by integrating exciting new technology into fascinating real world legal experiences. The Podcasting equipment has just the tools I have been looking for to bring this program and my students to a new level. The Podcasting program will also allow my students to share the fruits of their work with other students, parents and community members. Podcasting will give the students the tools they need to be heard.

My vision begins like this: the “Dream Team” will begin with an overview of the legal system and then an introduction to Civil and Criminal law. A Podcast trial section or witness account will entice and compel my students to further investigate the legal system and Podcasting; they will be hooked. I will then introduce the Lawyer coach to the students. The New Hampshire Bar Association provides a lawyer coach for the students as part of the Mock Trial program, as well as, access to an abundance of legal documents, research material, cases and educational resources. The case is next, and usually the first case is a civil case as this provides an ideal teaching opportunity for an introduction to Constitutional law. The cases can be real, hypothetical, historical or current. Ok, now the crazy fun learning begins…the students will become SCSI – Student Crime Scene Investigators. My classroom will be transformed into a crime scene learning and teaching lab with the help of the Podcasting equipment and the Tool Factory’s Simple Guide to Podcasting.

The students will then begin preparing their case for trial and competition. The culminating activity is a Mock Trial Competition at either the district or superior court before a volunteer judge or lawyer against other Middle School Mock Trial Teams from various schools. The student’s first step is to assume roles as witnesses, lawyers, bailiffs and court reporters. The SCSI Team will use the Digital Voice Recorders to conduct interviews with witnesses and experts, as well as, to record affidavits or depositions. The Podcasting Digital Voice Recorders will also be used by the student court reporter at the actual trial to record the court proceedings. These transcripts will then be edited using the headsets, microphones and Clip Art Station; audio and visual clips will be added to create a more convincing presentation. The equipment will allow students to be transported into the past to reconstruct historic trials using actual or recreated audio transcripts, speeches and testimonies. Trial transcripts can be transformed into audio records using the microphones, headsets, Clip Art Station and computers that are equipped with the Tool Factory software. The Podcasting equipment will allow the students the exciting ability to simulate 911 and other audio conversations as evidence to create an even more authentic experience.

As students move further into the field they will need to gather information and research from various experts (engineers, teachers, chemists, doctors, athletes, and police officers, etc.) to support their case. All of these interviews can be captured using the Digital Voice Recorders and enhanced with audio clips from the Clip Art Station and then stored on the Web Page Station. This evidence will then be brought back to the SCSI Lab to be analyzed, documented and prepared for presentation at the trial.

There will be several other groups of students working on different projects. One group of students will be working on the SCSI Podcasting News show using the Web Page Station to streamline in other Podcasts, news clips or projects. This will all be saved to the Web Page Station and added to the SCSI Website as a hyperlink. Another group of students will be working on the SCSI Website that will provide hyperlinks for all Podcasting activities and serve as a medium for weekly SCSI Podcast talk shows and guest interviews. There will be a group of students working on the SCSI Newspaper using Microsoft Publisher. Students will use the Digital Voice Recorders to record interviews as they gather information. This will help ensure accuracy…a golden opportunity to review plagiarism, copyright laws and you guessed it, the first amendment‘s freedom of speech law. I smell an entire talk show on freedom of speech, and of course a comparative oral analysis of famous first amendment cases. Podcasting will take all of this to the debating scene, and allow students to Podcast mini debates on topics like the freedom of speech that arise from various cases.

The students will use the Tool Factory Worksheet Station worksheets to write, edit and design scripts for the SCSI Podcasting News show. They will also be used to write interviews, depositions and affidavits for trials, witness statements, expert testimonies, medical reports, mini eyewitness accounts and synopsis’s of cases. Visual and audio evidence will be developed using the Workstation worksheets and hyperlinked to the SCSI website as clues.

Lastly, a group of students will be working on designing a virtual SCSI Computer Game that will feature each case with an interactive audio portion of eyewitness accounts, testimonies, clips and clues. This game will be hyperlinked and uploaded to the Web Page Station and the student SCSI Website so that all Belmont middle school students can try their hand at solving crimes.

All weekly Podcasts will be broadcast on the Web Page Station for subscribers to download; thus making the student’s legal journey available to community members. Students will encourage community and student involvement by providing a sharing portion to their weekly Podcasts allowing listeners to ask questions and voice concerns during the week. Targeted responses will be shared as part of the weekly broadcasts. Workstation worksheets will be utilized and created to support and supplement the project.

The speakers, headsets and availability of the Tool Factor software on multiple computers will make it possible for students to be engaged in a variety of activities at the same time. This will allow for differentiation between learning styles and will provide various opportunities to tap into all of the multiple intelligences.

There are so many enriching ways that the Podcasting Grant will enhance the learning opportunities of the Belmont Middle School students that one lesson is simply not enough, for as far as I can see the possibilities are endless. I have been searching for just this opportunity and have attended several workshops on Podcasting to investigate the process further. I have concluded that the Belmont Middle School students and Podcasting are meant to be united. I would like to begin Belmont's Podcasting adventure with the Mock Trail program. I feel that my creative energy and the Podcasting equipment will allow my students to learn about the law through hands on real life challenges that will create meaningful lifelong learning experiences.

Be the change you want to see in the world!

Read the applications of the 3 Grand Prize Winners.