The May 2010 Podcasting Grant judging is complete, and there were so many great entries that this round of judging was harder than ever! Congratulations to three lucky winners who will each receive over $2,300 in prizes. You can also click here to see the Honorable Mention applications, each of which eared their writers $120 in prizes for the classroom.

Here are the three Grand Prize winning applications:

Sandra Wiseman, Woodsdale Elementary School
Wheeling, WV 26003

Lesson Title: Woodsdale's Quest for Heroes and Heroines

Our children are bombarded with images and stories about people who demonstrate the worst qualities of mankind. Woodsdale’s fifth graders will be working together to define what heroism really means and they will spend time learning more about a person they believe to be a hero. The people they select may have had an impact on a global scale or completed a simple act of kindness in a local neighborhood. They will also be exploring the ideas that people of other generations and cultures have about heroes and seeing if those viewpoints are different. As the children complete these activities they may just discover a hero within themselves and their own unique power to have a positive impact on their world.

This unit will be divided into 3 main sections. In the first part, students will work together to identify the attributes a true hero possesses. Each of them will then select someone, they believe exemplifies those characteristics. Through research and interviews, they will discover as much as they can about their person. Using the unique tools included with the Tool Factory Podcasting software, the students will write a script and create a podcast featuring interesting facts about their person and why they consider them a hero.

In the second phase, the fifth graders will work with a partner and interview the residents of a local nursing home about their heroes. The microphone and digital recorders will simplify this process. These interviews will also be scripted and recorded as podcasts with introductions and summaries provided by the students.

In the final phase our students will join the My Hero Learning Circles program, which is a joint venture between the International Education Resource Network and the My Hero Project. The students will be collaborating with 6 to 8 other classrooms around the world, sharing their ideas about heroes and heroism.

In the culminating project the students will create a webpage featuring the podcasts they created to share with their international partners. Their families will be invited to a celebration where the students will be able show case their work. We will also invite the nursing home residents that participated so they can hear the podcasts their words were used to create. Then as a class we will review the original definition of a hero that they created in the beginning of the unit and see if their ideas have changed.

Tool Factory Podcasting Site License: The software will be used to create the podcasts based on the hero the students selected and the hero they learned about from the residents of the nursing home. The colorful easy to use tools are perfect for the elementary childen to use. The script writing feature will help them to stay organized and the simple click and drag audio tools will help them create a polished finished project. They will be motivated to complete their very best work since the podcasts will be shared with people around the world.

The Digital Voice Recorders / Microphones: The recorders and microphones will be very important to this project. We will set up a special area in the school library where students can create their scripts and record their thoughts on heroes. This area will be available any time the students have time to work on their projects and not just during their scheduled class times. They will have time to practice and improve their scripts before they move into creating the actual podcast. Students who don’t like speaking in front of their peers will have a private place to record and can concentrate on the thoughts they are trying to convey rather than concentrating on who might be listening. This equipment is also essential for the interviews that will be conducted at the nursing home. It is easily portable and the microphone will assist in getting a quality recording no matter what is going on in the background. The podcasts will be in the patients’ own words so their thoughts and stories will be accurately represented in the podcasts. The built in USB plug will make it easy for the fifth graders to work independently to transfer their files to the school computers. Many of our partners in the Learning Circle portion of this project will speak English as a second language so it will be very important for the recordings to be clear so that they can easily decipher what is being said.

Clipart Station: The clipart will be used to make the student created webpages for their iEARNS partners more visually appealing and to create polished looking flyers inviting the community to our Hero party at the end of the unit. They can use the sounds to add interest to their podcasts. Having professional quality, copyright free images available will save time. Students won’t have to search through online sites to try to find something that it is legal for them to use or worry about trying to write someone to get the right permission. The station will be very valuable to the hero project and will be put to good use by other teachers in the building as they work with students throughout the school year.

Worksheet Station: The resources provided here will be a wonderful addition to the hero project as well as other academic programs at Woodsdale. The storyboard, scriptwriting, timeline, and sound effects planner will be great tools to keep the students organized and focused on the content of their presentations. I’m also sure that the staff will find many resources that they can put to good use in their classrooms. The worksheets on the parts of a computer and computer safety will be very useful at the beginning of the school year to prepare students to work on technology projects.

Web Page Station: Having a place to post our podcasts is essential to making this project work. The school server doesn’t have any extra storage space and no access for people beyond the school walls. With Web Page Station the students will have a place to showcase their work and share it with their families, the nursing home residents, their friends in other classes, and their international partners.

Simple Guide to Podcasting / Adventures in Podcasting: Our school is new to podcasting so the Simple Guide to Podcasting will be a great resource in getting us started. Both the students and teacher staff will use this reference to learn the skills needed to create interesting and effective podcasts. The Adventures in Podcasting book will help us take the “next step” when we are ready to move beyond the basics. It will also provide teachers with ideas on how to integrate podcasting in their curriculums.

Roger Achor, Hot Springs Intermediate School
Hot Springs, AR 71913

Lesson Title: Living Forever Family History

Hot Springs Intermediate School is always trying to reach out and bring together the students, school stakeholders, and families who have an interest in the success of our kids. Too often there is a ‘disconnect’ between the different parts of our learning community. We have a podcasting concept that will bridge this gap and help create a positive and lasting attachment between the families, the school, and the community at large. This achievable idea is to make living histories of each student’s family in the form of a podcast. Imagine if you will digital images and voices of a student’s loved ones made available over the internet through a school project. These podcasts could potentially last for years and be a visual and audio family album to share and return to as often as one wishes. Even friends and family members living elsewhere could access these electronic files. And distant relatives could even be voice recorded over a phone for inclusion in the living history. Grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, cousins, and more, could join in making this a family reunion like no other.

Licensing for all the computers from The One Tool Factory Podcasting Site will speed up the process in completing this project. The Olympus Digital Voice Recorders and the Microphones with Noise Cancellation are essential in capturing clear voice and sound clips. Clip art always brightens up any electronic project and the Clip Art Station subscription will enhance each podcast recording. The Worksheet Station, Podcasting-Book/CD, and Tool Factory’s Adventures in Podcasting-Book/CD will provide the students with the necessary background knowledge and reference materials to feel comfortable in completing their living family podcast.

This project will be divided into smaller parts and begin with initial instruction on podcasting using the teaching materials from The Worksheet Station, Podcasting-Book/CD, and the Tool Factory’s Adventures in Podcasting-Book/CD. There will be classroom instructions on using the equipment properly for both care and safety purposes and for best results. Scheduled family living history nights will have student and adult volunteer booths to create the scripts and record parts of the sessions. Students and adult volunteers will work together to take all the living history audio, video, clip art and sound art to create the final version of the podcasts for publishing to the webpage.

Jodi Farbstein, Wilson Elementary
Sanford, FL 32771

Lesson Title: Fourth Grade Footprints...Voices For Our Earth

It’s time for everyone to hear about the Earth’s importance and our contributions and efforts to make this world a better, cleaner place to live. Not only do our actions affect what we do today, it affects tomorrow even more! Students will research and learn about ecological foot printing and will prepare ideas to help our Earth through small steps, starting locally and projecting globally. My students will get involved with the process of becoming more eco-friendly and conservation savvy by podcasting to those all across the Earth. When giving students the power of voice (through podcasting) they take ownership of their work, which in essence fosters civic responsibility. Our project is two-fold, one part being the environmental assistance the students will provide by making positive changes in our classroom and at our school to help our environment, the second being the ability to spread the word! The students would continually communicate their project development, ideas, tips, and strategies to other students and communities all over the world in order to showcase achievement and to inspire many people to get involved.

Students and teacher will begin by:

Step 1. Building the Project - Students will research background information on ecological footprints and environmental conservation. Once information has been collected, students will prepare a proposal with goals for the service learning projects they would like to work on throughout the year. Our class as a whole group will select three projects to complete throughout the year. These projects could consist of, but are not limited to, cleaning up the school grounds, bringing a recycling program to our school, creating a plan for energy conservation, planting a school garden, getting our surrounding community or community businesses to join efforts, saving foliage from being destroyed due to development in surrounding areas, begin planning for a school greenhouse, etc.

Step 2. Planning for Podcasting - Students will create cooperative teams and come up with an action plan for podcasting. Each group will prepare a podcast for at least once a week or bi-weekly (5 groups, six students in each group). Every student will have a team job (team leader, recorder, presenter, and team monitor), which will rotate each week in order to be more efficient with time and help with management of students. Students will come up with a plan for each weekly podcast. Teacher will make connections with several schools across the world, one in Chicago, England, and Australia to start, who are willing to communicate and work in partnership with the students as much as possible.

Step 3. Podcasting Groups -

Group 1 - Fourth Grade Footprints
   •   This group will podcast what the progress of class projects, like a live science journal.

Group 2 - Green Tips for Kids
   •   This group will podcast tips for kids around the world to get involved.

Group 3 - Earth Day is Everyday
   •   This group will podcast the easy everyday go-green ideas.

Group 4 - Voices for the Earth
   •   This group will podcast communications to students across the world in order to collaborate efforts and connect with others.

Group 5 - What’s That You Say?
   •   This group will podcast outrageous, eye-opening facts about what’s going on around the world in order to motivate others.

Students will create a weekly/bi-weekly schedule to podcast their assigned group information. Each group will have to plan materials and create visual pieces to use for podcasts. All students will be involved in the podcasting process, along with our whole class as a group, working together to podcast our cause.

Step 4. Using Visual Tools - Students will document our projects through pictures, creating PowerPoint’s and/or videos using our class document camera. This would be a vital piece to present a visual component to illustrate the podcasts. With our document camera students can record their thought process for all to see.

Step 5. Community Connection - Teacher or students will establish connections with local college (University of Central Florida) which is continually making strides to become a green campus. Student’s will also research to find community leaders who are already involved with helping the environment and interview them in order to highlight their achievements within the podcasts.

Project Goal: As a life long learner myself, I believe our quality of life is determined by the environment we surround ourselves with. I hope to instill the importance of conserving energy and water, and convey to students how our daily decisions affect our environment. I will assist students by providing them the opportunity to develop projects to help our Earth and to show others the importance of our environmental footprint. Throughout my teaching career I have always hoped to instill civic responsibility to my students, and with the technology component this grant offers, I believe students would become more motivated to be involved through including the ability to document their experiences and share them. I want my students to not only make an impact at our school, but with podcasting they could impact those around the world. As these young students are the technology generation, I know that these materials will enhance our learning experiences in all curriculum areas, not only for this specific project and involve all types of learners in the process. Through the use of podcasting technology I anticipate students will develop a love of the environment, and a love for their voice.

Read the applications of the 3 Honorable Mention Winners.