The April 2008 Podcasting Grant judging is completed! Congratulations to three lucky winners who will each receive over $2,860 in prizes. Click here to see the applications from the runner-up finalists!

Here are the grant applications of our four Grand Prize winning teachers:

Abby Hooper, East Side Elementary

Brownsville, TN 38012

Lesson Title: From East to West Across the US
As teachers we strive to provide our students with every opportunity to succeed in life. We want to open doors and expose them to all the their future has to offer. Technology and hands-on lessons enable teachers to take students to places that they have never been before. Our students at East Side rarely get out of the community, let alone out of the state of Tennessee. The idea of exploring outside our community boundaries is the driving force behind our project, From East to West Across the U.S.
Students will be told that their class has won a fantasy fieldtrip to one of the fifty states. They will be given a set amount of money and randomly draw one state. The challenge of the unit is to plan a one-week trip to the state that was selected. The money that each class receives must cover all trip expenses including travel to and from the state.
Along the way, students will employ the technology awarded and existing technology to complete a series of projects including creating maps, brochures, a budget, an itinerary, weather graphs and predictions, a PowerPoint about their state including landforms, bodies of water, and industry. Students will also create podcasts each week documenting their adventures. As a culminating activity, the school will host a day where students will travel from East to West Across the U.S. visiting the participating classrooms to learn about each state. Guest will also be outfitted with mp3 players so that they can hear the adventures each class has embarked on.

Grade Level: 3rd and 4th

Number of students: 500 participating

Project subject areas: This unit will cover the subjects of Math, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Reading.

With this project teachers will be able to turn their lessons into a hands-on experience that enhances life skills and knowledge of new forms of technology. The project will foster creativity and cover skills that are directly related to the Tennessee state standards that are tested on the state achievement test.

If awarded the podcasting grant, the equipment will be used to create a classroom travel show. The plan is to have each participating class document their adventures by using the podcasting equipment. Some sample shows include but are not limited to: Weather Reports, What’s my state famous for?, I bet you never knew this about my state, restaurant reviews, and how to plan an economical trip to my state. These are just the basic ideas for the podcasting adventures. The opportunities are endless and I am sure that the students will come up with interesting ideas of their own. The whole goal of the project is to make learning fun and to get away from just teaching out of the textbook.

Here is how we will use the resources provided with the grant:

Tool Factory Software – The Tool Factory Software will be used to produce our classrooms state adventures. Being simple for teachers and students to use is a plus. It is not always easy to get teachers to think outside of the box. I feel that more teachers will participate in the project by providing them with something that is easy to use.

Digital Voice Recorders – The digital voice recorders will be used to record the podcasting segments in quiet places. The portability of the recorders is a plus for our students. They are able to take the recorders out of the class to record their segments in a quiet place or even take a recorder home for interviews or just to work on their segment at night. The recorders will also be used on our culminating activity day. Students will be able to interview community members and post their reactions to our project as a podcast. The microphones and headphones will be used to record the podcasting segments in the classroom. Part of my classroom will be set up as our class podcasting station. This will be the student’s own working area.

Clip Art Station – The clipart station will provide a wonderful collection of clip art that will enhance all projects that will be created with the unit. I can only imagine what their PowerPoint’s, maps, and brochures will look like.

Worksheet Station and Tool Factory Simple Guide to Podcasting - These two items will be very beneficial when it comes to explaining the simplicity of podcasting to the teachers. They will first be used in in-services to demonstrate the use of Tool Factory’s podcasting equipment and what can be created with it. The teachers will then in turn take these sources to enhance the lessons that they will teach.

Web Page Station – As of right now, our teachers do not have their own web pages. This host site will be an essential part in making our project a success. It will serve as the host site for our podcasting shows.

Student impact:

From East to West Across the U.S. is a unit filled with hands-on projects that link our state’s core curriculum content to advanced standard-base learning. Throughout this unit, students will participate in a learning experience that will compel them to think critically and challenge the concepts that they already know.
Along with the implementation of this hands-on curriculum our students will develop important learning skills and the ability to articulate complex ideas. They will be able to use appropriate and sophisticated terminology and integrate the ideas they have learned into their continued learning efforts. These skills are vital in raising our state test scores; but the most valuable impact that this unit will have on our students is in the area of confidence.

Monika Kordowski, Lake Garda Elementary School

Burlington, CT 06013

Lesson Title: Las Noticias En Espaņol
Fifth grade students receive 15-minute daily Spanish lessons in a FLES Program. This is their third/second year of taking Spanish so student knowledge, in addition to their listening and speaking skills, is quite expansive. I’m presenting a project I would like to implement with these students. It incorporates all the resources provided in this grant.

Students will create a bi-monthly Spanish newscast. The news can include local school news, local city/state news, Hispanic news, weather, sports, fashion, health (lunch options at school), interviews and commercials. Each class will be/represent a different news station (similar to the real world and all the choices in news stations) with a unique look and personality.

Each class will decide which components they will include in their monthly broadcast. The class will be divided into 7-8 different groups, consisting of 2 or 3 students per group. Each group is responsible for a part of the newscast. Their task will be to create a report for a part of the newscast and choose clipart to enhance it with illustrations.

Here is how this one project would incorporate all the resources provided in this grant:

Tool Factory software – Students will have the opportunity to work on projects at any time during the day.

Digital Voice Recorders – The use of digital voice recorders is invaluable when learning a world language. The voice recorders in this project will be used to practice recording the broadcast and for the interviews. It will be a very smooth process to have a digital voice recorder per 2 groups of students.
These will also be used to gather evidence of student growth over time, record skits or oral projects to assess speaking, and even record lessons to be done with a substitute teacher.

Microphones and Headphones – This equipment will make the project of creating a newscast more authentic and life-like. Students can have the real life experience by being able to use microphones and headphones for broadcasting and editing their newscast.

Clip Art Station - Students will use this site to get clipart and audio to enhance their newscast and add some visual understanding for those who struggle with the language.

Worksheet Station – This will be used to help students map out their ideas and the reports they will be presenting. These will also be used as a whole class activity to outline the entire newscast incorporating all components.

Web Page Station – The school website is very limiting in space. We are only allowed to post a few pictures with captions each month. Using this site will allow more possibilities to display student work and it will also open up a new opportunity for parents and other family members to hear what their loved ones can do in a new language.
I will also use these pod casts with the 3rd and 4th graders as a way to assess their listening skills. It will give them an idea of what they will be able to do after a year of learning Spanish.

Tool Factory's Simple Guide to Podcasting – This simple guide will be beneficial for any teacher to use in the classroom. It will also be a great way to teach the 3rd and 4th graders a little about pod casting so they can also begin to create pod casts and have the experience of listening to their own voices and those of their peers in Spanish.

Mary Pella-Donnelly, Chico Junior High

Chico, CA 95926

Lesson Title: Chico Junior High's Healthy Character Broadcast Program
Goal of Project: To Create Public Service Announcement Podcasts on issues of junior high student concerns. Announcements will be broadcast on school wide intercom as part of daily bulletin. Best PSA’s will be sent to KZFR community radio for the teen program. The Chico Junior High Life Sciences will lead this project developing the first PSA’s. As part of the curriculum relating to health and good decision making will have students focus on personal school issues that have affected them or their peers in some sort of negative way. Specific topics will be developed by the students themselves. Of concern at our junior high are students treating others disrespectfully, bullying, being unkind, and putting others down. By students really focusing on developing a refined 1 minute podcast; they will generate greater school-wide communication. Since students will need to interview others who are not part of their social group in order to create an effective podcast, the interview process itself will create discussion about how individuals are hurt by others. This project will result in greater understanding of the topic chosen and will give the students a lot of consider. Students will then train other students in the technology to be used to develop additional podcasts of interest, with the theme of podcasts that develop character and positive attributes in the school community, such as showing respect for oneself and others, recycling, reducing waste, etc.

With a school-wide audience; the information, the technology and the successful airing of student issues will provide reinforcement of the positive attributes we want to encourage our students to have. It will increase the self-esteem of those students who develop these podcasts, and lead them to positive recognition within the school community. By airing these podcasts regularly over the school-wide intercom system, Chico Junior High students will have positive behaviors reinforced as part of our schools efforts to develop positive character attributes in all students.

Our school has a self contained program for students who have been unsuccessful in junior high so far. It may be due to behavioral issues or poor academic proficiency throughout most classes. The students in this program will be given a chance to become involved in podcasting. The program of 22 students will be trained and will develop podcasts about issues of personal relevance to them or share something about themselves in an authentic voice. Script writing will be an integral part of this, and learning how to accept free, legally obtained sound effects to enrich the podcasts. Giving them this creative opportunity to express their issues and learn the technical abilities in adding sound effects and appropriate music will add depth to their school experience and positively empower them. Sharing these podcasts with other classes and over the intercom will be a powerful tool in these students education.

When this project is completed there are additional projects that the audio recorders will be used for. Students will train eighth grade history classes prior to the unit dealing with the civil war. With lessons on slavery and the oral tradition of story telling among different cultures, this curricular area will be a perfect place to have students develop audio projects within the core curriculum. The eighth grade history classes will then interview elder relatives or neighbors to create oral history projects. These oral history projects may also be used for intercom broadcasts. This will create connections between different ages of our community and enrich both groups.

These audio recorders may be used for other projects in addition to science and history class use. Our Community Service Club has gone into nursing homes and visited elderly people. By giving the students further opportunities to interact with these people and share their stories, both parties will be enriched. The students that will be encouraged to participate initially, will be those in our club and some students will be encouraged to join in whom I have identified as benefiting the greatest from involvement in school and community. After students develop edited podcasts, each will be given an audio CD of their podcast and of others who agree to share theirs.

Each of the individual projects will be shared with the community radio station for distribution over the air waves.

Read the applications of the 3 runner-up finalists.