Today I observed a 6th grade Digital Communications class doing some really exciting work with new media, and finally got to see classroom podcasting in action. Turns out, podcasting is 100x easier than I thought, and the applications for literacy instruction are pretty amazing.
Here's how this unit was structured over several weeks:
Students started by exploring the different layers of information on Google Earth to find 3 places they wanted to travel to, each on a different continent. Then they selected two landmarks from each place, and compiled the facts they found into a travel guide.
Working in small groups the students then wrote a script for a travel show about these three places, incorporating the information they had researched, using a wiki to facilitate collaboration.
To present their research, the groups then used their scripts to create 3 minute podcasts using audacity open source software. They were revising, practicing for fluency, collaborating, all the while completely engaged in their work. I was truly surprised to see how sophisticated the editing is that students can do using audacity - they were deleting big pauses, rearranging text, overlaying music, and adjusting special effects.
I've been planning to volunteer as a reading tutor, but was so excited about all this that I emailed the youth center today and offered to work with their students on blogs and podcasting instead.