The June 2007 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.

Bob Zook, Belleville Mennonite School

Belleville, PA

LESSON TITLE: Senior Citizen “StoryCasts”

Young people today have little time in their busy schedules to hear the stories of those who were once young. However, the stories of the “once young” can help the “current young” as they face the challenges of growing old. This project, with the use of technology, will give Middle School age students the opportunity to listen to the stories of senior citizens and then convert these stories into a medium that will last for years to come.

Students will be paired with a resident of a nearby senior citizen retirement center and will meet monthly with their Senior Citizen Pal for the year starting in October and continue through May. During their meetings, the students will be assigned specific topics and questions to ask their Pal.

The topics will be directly connected with Social Studies and English curriculum. The teachers of the Social Studies and English classes will be involved in helping students think through appropriate follow up questioning and prior understanding of the content of the questions. Students will be taught how to phrase questions for stories and not just facts. Here is a brief outline of the topics and ideas of sample questions:

October – Topic: Get Acquainted
Questions – What did you do for fun when you were my age? Your hobbies, sports, games?
What are several of your favorite memories growing up?

November – Topic: Thanksgiving
Questions - What is your favorite Thanksgiving Day memory? What did you usually do? What was your typical meal?
What are you most thankful for as you think about growing up?

December – Topic: Christmas
Questions – What is your favorite Christmas Day memory, What did you usually do on Christmas Day? What did you eat?
What were your favorite Christmas gifts that you received as a child?

January – Topic: New Year Resolutions
Questions – What is the most important accomplishment for you?
If you would be growing up today, what would you do differently? What would you do the same?

February – Topic: Presidential Memories
Questions – What is your memory of the Presidents of the US?
Do you remember what you were doing when you heard JFK was shot?
What is a time when you were tempted to lie, but you told the truth?

March – Topic: Weather
Questions – What was the biggest snow storm that you remember? What activities did you do in the snow?
How did you spend summers? What did you do?
What is your favorite season of the year and why?

April – Topic: Home and Family
Questions – Where have you lived? What was the best place?
How did you and your parents get along? What do you admire about your parents?
What are your children doing?

May – Topic: Good Bye
Questions – What words of advice do you have for a child growing up today?

During the year, students will be using the Olympus Digital Voice Recorders to record the stories that the Senior citizens tell. The stories will then be saved following each visit and will be used for creating the different episodes of the “StoryCast”. Students will create the episodes using the Tool Factory Podcasting software along with headsets and microphones. With the sounds included in the Clip Art Station they will integrate special sound effects and create intro music and ending music. Students will develop a standard opening theme introduction as well as a closing theme for each episode as well as one before the first episode and one for after the last episode.

Each episode of the “Senior Citizen StoryCasts” will be uploaded via the Web Page Station so that the senior citizens and their families can listen to the stories. Families of both the student as well as their Senior Citizen Pal can burn these “Story Casts” on CD’s or DVD’s for memory sake. Families of the Senior Pals will have interest in the episodes as they have voice storage of their parent. Students will also have a way of remembering their friend that they made.

Students will plan their “Story Casts” episodes using the worksheets and other resources available through The Worksheet Station.


April Benz, St. Philip Neri School

Lafayette Hill, PA

LESSON TITLE: Revolutionary Revelations
Objectives: Identify differences in perspective
Identify the importance of Revolutionary War figures
Outline and explain the major issues that led to the Revolutionary War
Create political jingles that demonstrate the ideas of patriots and loyalists
Identify and explain important battles of the Revolutionary War.

Background knowledge: Students will have background knowledge on the events that led up to the Revolutionary war. This project will be in progress as the class moves through the chapter dealing with the actual war. Students will also need to understand the difference between the Patriots’ and the Loyalist’s perspective on independence.

Procedure: Students will work collaboratively to create a radio show that implements “real-world” media traits (i.e. advertisements, interviews, debates, jingles, songs, play by plays, special announcements etc). Each piece of the show must demonstrate the opinion of the political group to which the class was assigned. One class will play the part of the Patriot perspective while the other class demonstrates the Loyalist perspective. Before the assignment is given out, the class will complete worksheets and hold discussions on how someone’s personal opinion can change a piece of writing, an advertisement etc. Students will read newspaper/magazine articles and identify the viewpoints of the writer. Once this is completed, the class will be assigned the perspective they are responsible for addressing. Each student will pull a number from a hat. Each number will correspond with the following assignment options:

1. Character interviews: Students must research a key figure that is important to their perspective. For example, a patriot might want to interview General George Washington, while a loyalist would interview General Howe. After researching characteristics of that person, they are responsible for dressing as the character and conducting and interview in which they will take on the voice of that person. Students will be given worksheets that guide their interview questions, but are also free to add any information that their research gives them.

2. Jingles/Songs: Students with this number will be responsible for creating catchy jingles or songs that will act as persuasive pieces. Each jingle/song must encourage audience members to share in the same perspective as the group members. For example, students who are supposed to be Patriots might create a jingle that condemns King George III etc.

3. Advertisements: Students will have to create product or event advertisements that will be suitable for the audience of their political background. Their advertisements should be realistic, creative, and reflect their understanding of the background of their audience. If they choose product advertisements they will have to do research to convert the current price to a price that would have been suitable in the Revolutionary Era.

4. Battle Broadcasting: Battle broadcasting is meant to simulate a radio sports broadcast. However, the students will be ‘broadcasting’ characteristics of important Revolutionary war battles. They will have to summarize the characteristics of the terrain, the generals involved, the outcomes of each battle, and the significance of the battle to the war.

Once the students have been assigned their numbers they will be given 3 class periods to prepare and record their part of the radio broadcast. Each class will be given the opportunity to hear their own, and they other classes’ pod cast. Then, we will discuss the differences between the two groups.

Needed materials: Headphones and microphones will be used to record each section of the radio program. Cameras will be necessary to take pictures of visuals for advertisements, and also to take pictures of our dressed up “war heroes”. These pictures will be uploaded to a webpage that will correspond to the radio show. As students listen to the podcast, they will be directed to click the links for pictures that go along with each advertisement, interview, or battle broadcast. In addition to having picture links, the web page will also contain links to web pages that can provide further research on the Revolutionary war time period. (A few of the links that will be included are listed below on the web resources section.) Students will also be given worksheets that correspond to certain parts of these additional websites. In order to receive full credit for their project and to guarantee students take advantage of these resources, they will have to complete a certain portion of the worksheet packet.

Rico Kellogg, Mesa Elementary

Boulder, CO

LESSON TITLE: A Gathering of Greatness: The Biography Tea
“If you could invite any four famous figures from history to dinner, who would they be?” is a classic dinnertime conversation starter for adults. This question also lends itself to enlivening the imaginations of elementary school students who are studying biographies. After thinking up a list of potential dinner guests, it’s fun and exciting to imagine what the conversation would be like at that dinner. This sort of activity is a great way for teachers to bring history alive for students and it also creates a deeper understanding of historical figures both as individuals and products of their culture and times.
At Mesa Elementary in Boulder, we do a reading unit on biographies every fall, and we have a “Biography Tea” on Halloween as a culminating activity. The students have to read a biography of a historical figure, do some additional outside research on their subject, dress up as this historical figure and finally, write and present a short introduction to the life and accomplishments of their subject. The afternoon ends with students meeting at tables for a “tea” with four or five other students where they have a conversation in character. This unit, and especially the biography tea, is one of the highlights of the 5th grade year for many students, but I think that it could enriched immensely by the use of podcasting technology.
If students were required to create a script for their tea and produce it as a podcast, the potential for cross-curricular integration and deeper understanding of their biography subjects would be far greater. Another excellent benefit of the podcast would be the opportunity for sharing this learning experience with a wider audience including the larger school community, and potentially, other schools. Eventually, this activity could be shared with other schools doing similar activities. By using the podcasting technology and sharing all the group’s projects, students would not be limited to learning only about the other people in their group, but they could be a ‘fly on the wall’ for other fascinating conversations between famous historical figures.

This is how the lesson would work:

1. Guided by their personal interests and aided by teachers and the school media specialist, students would pick their subject and find a biography to read. They will have reading assignments to complete as they work through the books.
2. Prior to the biography tea, students will group themselves together with the requirement that no historical figures who were alive at the same time may be in the same group.
3. Students will use primary sources, biographies and web resources to learn more about their subjects and work together to imagine and write a conversation between their subjects. They would work in groups and receive guidance from the teacher to check their conversation for historical accuracy and authentic voice.
4. The students would use the podcasting technology to create a script for the conversation and then record the conversation. They would then do a final edit to make sure it sounds professional and polished.
5. The podcasts would be uploaded and shared to the wider school community. Parents and other teachers could go to the website to listen to the students’ efforts.
6. A culminating activity would be a sharing of the conversations with our first-grade “book buddies”. The students would have to prepare a short introduction to familiarize the first graders with the historical figures, and then they will have the first graders listen to their podcast. Finally, while remaining in character, they would answer questions that the first graders have.

This lesson integrates technology and research skills into a reading-based history lesson that focuses on the biography genre, but also requires students to use critical thinking skills to determine the accuracy and validity of their sources. The students must decide if their references show a realistic personality that is consistent with the subject’s historical context and life accomplishments.
Writing with a strong voice and a clear sense of the writer’s intended audience are important language arts skills that this lesson will help build, and the speaking element will help students to develop strong delivery and clear enunciation, public speaking skills that many children struggle with.
I think that the strongest component of this lesson is its use of technology to stir children’s imaginations to make history come alive. Instead of reading about two-dimensional characters from history texts, the students actually become living and breathing figures from history who can suspend disbelief and come together to meet and talk and try to understand each other’s unique positions in time and culture. The podcasting technology will enable them to create a lasting product that preserves this valuable learning experience.

Read the applications of the 3 Grand Prize Winners.