The January 2009 Podcasting Grant judging is completed! Congratulations to three lucky winners who will each receive over $2,400 in prizes. Click here to see the applications from the Honorable Mention Winners!

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

Jennifer LaGarde, Myrtle Grove Middle School

Wilmington, NC 28409

Lesson Title: It's All Greek To Us!
In Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief, middle schooler Percy Jackson discovers that not only are the Greek gods real and alive, but also that Percy himself is actually the son of one of them, Poseidon, making him a “half-blood” or demigod. This popular and exciting fantasy-adventure novel revolves around Percy’s quest to retrieve Zeus' lightning bolt from Hades, who supposedly stole it. Along the way, he discovers that he is really just a pawn in a colossal battle between the gods that may spark World War III and that it’s up to him to stop it.

Using Riordan’s novel as a jumping off place, 6th grade students will make use of the technology awarded by this grant, (as well as existing technology), to complete a (web) quest of their own, in which they connect the dots between ancient Greek culture and modern life. NC curriculum goals in both Language Arts and Social Studies, as well as in Science and Technology will be addressed as students tackle a variety of projects which will include, but will not be limited to:

•Podcasted “testimony” in front of the Council of Olympians in which students will provide scientific explanations of numerous Greek myths.

•Podcasted “testimonials” in which students assume the personas of one of the Greek gods and provide their interpretation of how they think these ancient deities would react to modern life in the United States.

•Creation of a script for “As Mt. Olympus Turns,” a podcasted soap opera/explanation of the Greek family tree.

•Creation of the “ABC’s of Greek Life and Mythology,” an online wiki-resource for students to contribute to and utilize in their study of Greek culture, life and contributions.

•Creation of audio/visual “Thank You Cards,” an online resource in which students would photograph examples of Greek influences in modern architecture, city planning, etc., as well as audio-linked explanations and thank-you’s to the Greeks for their inspiration.

•Creation and maintenance of a blog in which students respond to global questions relating to The Lightning Thief, the reasons why Greek culture has endured throughout the ages as well as what aspects of our culture they see as having the potential to influence future generations and societies. The blog will also provide a format for students to reflect on and evaluate their own contributions to the unit and completion of each task. Student contributions to the blog would be submitted in written, audio and visual formats.

With this project, students will have the opportunity to discover the relevance of ancient societies to the modern world. By utilizing 21st century technologies and skills, students at Myrtle Grove Middle School will be afforded the chance to link these two cultures by highlighting the literary, scientific, and cultural threads that connect them. Further, this project will enable teachers to bring this ancient world to life by engaging students in numerous hands on activities that will spark creativity, employ higher order thinking skills and require mastery of new forms of technology.

Grade Level: 6th

Number of students: 100+ participating

Project subject areas: This unit will cover NC curriculum goals in the areas of Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, Reading and Technology.

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

Tool Factory Software: The Tool Factory Software will be used to produce all podcasted components of the student webquest. From their audio testimony in front of the Council of Olympians, to reflective audio posts on the class blog, the Tool Factory Software will become the instrument through which our students produce the evidence of their learning. Further, by teaching students to utilize this software, we are confident that it will continue to be used in numerous projects throughout our school that we have simply yet to envision.

Digital Voice Recorders and Microphones: The digital voice recorders will be used to record podcasting segments throughout the school. Because students will be working independently or in small groups for much of the project, the Digital Voice Recorders will afford them the opportunity to take their “quest” beyond the walls of the classroom as they record segments “on location.” The portability of these devices will enable our students to ascertain the most suitable environment for audio recording and to discover pockets of productivity within our crowded building. A podcasting station will also be set up in the school library where students use the microphones and headphones to record scripted podcasting segments.

Clip Art Station: The clipart station will provide an opportunity for us to discuss and model ethical copyright practices while also offering students a plethora of resources which they can use to enhance the visual appeal of their projects. Our blog, wiki and other online applications will be visually enhanced by the resources available on the Clip Art Station while also insuring that our students are following the tenants of Fair Use.

Worksheet Station: The storyboard and script writing worksheets available through Worksheet Station will be used as the foundation of all student podcasts. Additionally, worksheets on caption writing, editing and the use of figurative language, coupled with the wide variety of available graphic organizers, will also be utilized to improve the substance of each of our podcasted products. Further, these skill building tools will only enhance student performance in other classes and we envision using them throughout the year to create a cohesive means of improving student proficiency in the skills that support all curriculum areas.

Tool Factory Simple Guide to Podcasting: This step by step guide will be used as a resource for both teachers and students as they learn the ins and outs of podcasting. It is our goal to use this “instruction manual” to train our students who, as 6th graders, will then go on to train other students and even teachers. The Simple Guide to Podcasting will provide us with the knowledge to help our students gain the mastery they need to teach these skills to others throughout our school.

Web Page Station: Like the Tool Factory Simple Guide to Podcasting, the Web Page Station will be used as an instructional resource both for teachers and our future student trainers. Furthermore, we will make great use out of the ability to host our podcasts on the Web Station Server as limited server space has been one of the main stumbling blocks we have encountered as we attempt to make our students effective users of 21st century technology. This host site will be an essential part of making our project a success.

Rebekah Smith, Astec Charter Middle School

Oklahoma City, OK 73142

Lesson Title: ASTEC’s Mission to Mars: Space Diaries
Mission to Mars is a cross-curricular project that will incorporate science and technology. Students will first explore facts about Mars exploration in science class. They will work in small groups to create a design brief (plan) to show responsibilities of each group member. Students will then prepare a blueprint of facilities to be placed on Mars’s surface and plan construction for the planet’s habitat. The plans will include housing, waste management, gathering and recycling water, energy sources, transportation to and while on Mars, and communications on Mars and to Earth. Students will also need to identify food, sources, preparation and storage. They will also create a suitable atmosphere for humans.

Upon completion of the Mars habitat, students will create a podcast in technology class to tell about each component of the project. It will be written, recorded and presented as a diary about life on Mars. Prior to creating the podcast, students will listen to examples of podcasts from various sites. Students will examine the differences between a National Public Radio (NPR) podcast and a trendy one posted on the web. This will help give students ideas for how to create their own style of podcast.

The Worksheet Station Subscription and Tool Factory’s Simple Guide to Podcasting book will help students with the understanding of how to create a podcast.

Next, students will be asked to compile a script for their group’s podcast from the information they learned in science about human life surviving on Mars. Students will then use the Olympus Digital Voice Recorders and the Microphones with Noise Cancellation to record their podcast diaries. Students will then use the Tool Factory Podcasting software to edit and finalize their unique Mars diary podcast. Finally, podcasts will be posted on the web for the world to enjoy.

The Clip Art Station and the Web Page Station will help with the design and production of the website I created to post the podcasts. This project utilizes Oklahoma’s Priority Academic Students Skills (PASS) standards in science and instructional technology. This lesson applies the inquiry of Earth/Space science combined with the student’s ability to demonstrate knowledge of technology communication tools. The Mission to Mars: Space Diaries integrates National Educational Technology standards to design and adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity.

Advanced Science and Technology Education Center Charter School (ASTEC) is located in a low socioeconomic inner city area. Approximately 90% of our middle school students participate in the free or reduced lunch program; many of them do not have computers in their home, or the capability to create a podcast and post on the internet. The experience of creating and sharing this type of work with the world will expand their use of technology and provide them with a sense of accomplishment. It will give students the chance to experiment with multimedia, and encourage a desire to work in the media industry. ASTEC is a school that focuses on college preparation beginning in the sixth grade. Our students focus on getting a first rate education and strive toward college. They deserve the opportunity to use this kind of technology in order share their thoughts and ideas with other around the world. Not only will the podcasting equipment benefit current students of ASTEC, but this project and others similar to it will continue for years to come impacting thousands of young student’s minds.

Donna Jones, Bonne Ecole Elementary

Slidell, LA 70458

Lesson Title: Giving a Voice to Literature
The students in my fourth grade class are reluctant to try to read novels. They would rather read picture books or other short stories because of the length and the fact that many of them simply lose interest half way through the book. In an attempt to regain their interest in reading novels, I have instituted book clubs as a part of my literacy workstations. The students have shown a great interest in book clubs this year (especially because they choose the book as a group) and have really enjoyed sharing these stories with one another in such a small group setting. What they really need now is a way to share the excitement and joy they feel after they finish a book they have really enjoyed reading with students from other groups and classes.

As an extension assignment after completing the book in their book clubs, students will be asked to put together a promotional podcast to recommend this book to other groups. Based on their own interests, students will create a jigsaw project and put it together in one podcast with sound effects and music. Two students from the group can act out a favorite scene, two students can act out an interview as a character from the book, they can make a promotional commercial for the book, and two others can give a book review as a famous reviewer. Students will edit their podcast on the computer using Tool Factory Software and present it to other groups and other classes to promote their book.

The resources provided by this grant will be essential elements required for the completion of this project. They will be used in the following ways:

Digital Voice Recorders: The students will use these to record their interviews, the scenes they reenact, the commercials, and the book reviews for playback and reporting to the rest of the group for input and evaluation. The ease of being able to use these from anywhere will allow the students to work in an environment that is both quiet and private. The students can also use them to practice and polish their work before moving to the in-class podcasting stations.

Microphones and Headphones: These will be connected to the computers as podcasting stations. The final projects will be recorded on the computer using these and edited using the podcasting software that will be downloaded on to these designated computers.

Tool Factory Podcasting Software: This software will be used to edit, create, and produce our podcasts in the classrooms. We will also use this software to publish our podcasts to the Web pages we will create for our classroom.

Web Page Station: We will use this subscription to create a Web Page to publish our finished podcasts for others to enjoy. Hopefully this will encourage other classes around the country to try this new tool for learning when they see the awesome projects my class has produced.

The Clip Art Station: This will be used to create podcast specific flyers for the students to pass out when presenting their podcast to other students. This station will also be an invaluable resource for many other technology projects throughout the year at every grade level.

The Worksheet station and Tool Factory’s Simple Guide to Podcasting book and CD will be used for professional development for teachers at our school. This is such new technology and many teachers see new technology as a complicated hassle rather than an awesome tool for learning. These two tools will show the ease of use and simplicity of production and will encourage these teachers to take the plunge and use it in their classroom. This will also aid in the training of the students in the art of podcasting and editing. After all, they are the ones that will create the awesome projects we show off on our web pages!

The main purpose of this project is to show students that great literature is supposed to be shared and enjoyed. I don’t want them to learn that answering questions or filling out a worksheet is the only way to respond to what they read or show what they learned. The creativity that my students possess is hidden behind the boring day to day routines of the typical reading assignment. They are begging for this type of technology incorporated into their learning. I have instituted book clubs to peak their interest and now I would like to use podcasting to take that interest to the next level.

The school in which I teach has a high percentage of free and reduced lunch, about 48%. Althought the percentage is high, federal funding cutbacks last year have made it so that we fall just short of the funding that usually accompanies that high percentage. Without this grant, this kind of project cannot become a reality.

Read the applications of the 3 Honorable Mention Winners.