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SJH Students Develop Podcasts

Photo of SJH students Schultz Junior High (SJH) students are taking a different approach to research presentations. Instead of writing a traditional research paper, students created podcasts. Knowing eighth-grade students were about to begin their research, English Language Arts (ELAR) Teacher Melinda Jones came upon the idea to use podcasts, which would combine research and oral presentation skills.

“Many people haven't mastered live public speaking by age 13, a podcast gives a low-risk opportunity to plan, record, edit, and re-record their thoughts without having to stand in front of peers,” Jones said. “Podcasts are mainstream sources of information and entertainment for adults, so why not for kids?”

Since this was the first time using podcasts for presentations, Jones and teacher colleague Alex Richardson created a pilot podcast. Once complete, they shared their recording with students for them to critique and determine what worked and how to improve. From their suggestions, a rubric was created for students to use as a guideline when making their podcasts. To give students as much control as possible, they were allowed to choose the topic of the podcast and if they wanted to work with a partner. After gathering research, they used Anchor, a free podcast platform, to record using high-quality microphones provided by SJH Technologist Jeanne Ronemous.

“We rely heavily on technology in our English classrooms, because that's the way our students are engaging with the world more and more,” Jones said. “It's been a game-changer for the last year with students having 1:1 access here at Schultz. We are able to expand our classes beyond the four walls of our classrooms.”

Know their peers would be the ones to evaluate their work, students took the project seriously while discovering something new and different in the classroom.

“Students first thought podcasts would be simple, just talking about what they know. During the process, they saw how much work - recording, planning, writing, revising - really went into production,” Jones said. “Students who sometimes struggle with written work thrived with the chance to use their speaking skills as well. With the amount of student choice in this project from start to finish, they were truly able to find their voice!”