Category Archives: Podcast

3 Ways for Students to Create with Devices in the Classroom

Devices have become omnipresent in our classrooms. Often, these tools are used as expensive, electronic content delivery systems. However, the real power in technology in schools is that it empowers students to become content creators. Smartphones and tablets, even more so, have allowed them to become mobile and agile ones. Most educators know that individuals learn far more about a topic when they must explain it to someone else. Additionally, by employing multiple learning modalities through the creative process (tactile, kinesthetic, visible, etc), students process material more thoroughly. As you think about your lesson plans in the future, consider empowering students to create rather than just consume. Here are a few ways to do just that.

Create a Video

I am a fan of giving students guiding questions and parameters, then having them make an educational video. In my documentaries project, students must answer address a specific topic (e.g. “Where did George Washington get his reputation for honesty?” or “Was Benedict Arnold solely a villain of the Revolutionary War?”). We talk about creating

content in an engaging way, incorporating images and videos effectively (and ethically), pacing content, and selecting what to include or leave out. Videos are not exclusive to the humanities. I have seen math teachers effectively use them by having students demonstrate how to solve complex problems and science teachers as a recording and reflection for labs. I also encourage students to post their videos publicly (when age appropriate) or to the class via a closed portal (for younger students). By posting their videos publicly and sharing with the class, they are presenting to an authentic audience. Making a video is easy and can by done with a smartphone, tablet, and/or computer. Free software options include iMovie (MacOS & iOS), Movie Maker (Windows), and FilmoraGo (iOS & Android).

Create a Podcast

Podcasts are become ever more popular. There are podcasts to cover news, popular entertainment, hobbies, sports, cultural phenomena, and more. Task your class with

creating a podcast on a topic relevant to your course. If you are a Social Studies teacher, perhaps a weekly podcast on current events. If you teach science, a weekly science report relevant to the topic. Math? Try incorporating an update on a complex topic students are tackling that week. Podcasting can help students work on their public speaking skills as well as how to effectively present to an audience. Again, by sharing the podcast with the public at large or just the class and/or school, students learn what it is to engage with a broader audience. Podcasting can be done easily with a smartphone, tablet, and/or computer paired with a simple microphone to drown out ambient sound (the microphone on headphones can work in a pinch or you can invest in something a little more substantive). My favorite free apps for podcasting include: Garageband (MacOS & iOS) and Audacity (MacOS & Windows).

Websites

My students complete a year long research project that they post on a comprehensive website. Through creating an online portal, they learn how to write effectively for a broad audience, how to cite material so that it is accessible online, how to create and incorporate various types of media, and how to effectively organize and lay-out content. What I especially like about website creation is that it allows students to combine skills that they have learned throughout the year (e.g. video and podcasting). We have all seen “good” and “bad” websites. When it’s published online, students want theirs to look good. As such, it also serves as a basic primer in basic graphic design. There are numerous free website tools out there. If your school is a G-Suite for Education school, then I highly recommend using the new Google Sites. Not only is it easy to use, but it readily allows for collaboration. You can also check out weebly or wix.

If you’re in a school where students have access to devices, I strongly encourage having them turn those devices into content creators. You will find that it empowers them as learners and makes their learning more applicable and deep.

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Podcasts to help Students think Creatively about Traditional Content

One of the great privileges in my position at Ransom Everglades is that I still get to work directly with students in the classroom. I teach two sections of United States History. This work not only “keeps me honest” when it comes to technology, but it encourages to hone my skills as an educator and learner. Teaching a “traditional” subject using “non-traditional” tools can be a challenge. I want my students to think outside the box, explore things from new angles, and challenge accepted interpretations of historical events. This can be difficult not only for them, but to me. After all, history has been taught a specific way (focusing on names and dates and the expertise of Ph.D.’s) for generations.

One way I have found to disrupt this tradition is to bring podcasts into my classroom. Podcasting is an amazing medium that has disrupted terrestrial radio in unimaginable ways. As a result, there is a wealth of information out there to bring into the educational environment. By using engaging and well-researched material to provide students alternative perspectives and media. Here are a few of my favorite Podcasts (I’ve highlighted a couple of episodes). I hope that you will share your favorites below as well.

Radiolab Presents: More Perfect: More Perfect explores the role of the Supreme Court throughout history and in the modern era. I never thought that someone could make court cases engaging, but I was happily proven wrong. One of my favorite episodes is “Kittens Kick the Giggly Blue Robot.” This episode explores the history of the court and how it became one of the most powerful entities in the land. Every episode includes citation of sources and case law. They also provide this handy song to help you remember who is currently on the Supreme Court:

Footnote: A Show about Overlooked History: Historians often state the worst fate of a figure is to be condemned as a footnote to history. Footnote explores those often overlooked figures and the impact they had.For example, in the Day of Two Noons they explore how we developed time zones and the financial (and sometimes fatal) results.

Revisionist History: Malcolm Gladwell’s new series explores and reinterprets historical narratives. Check out “The Lady Vanishes,” which explores the impact of tokenism in the art and political worlds.

NPR Code Switch: With the rise of Social Justice in the news and the prevalence of multi-racial communities, Code Switch does an amazing job of tackling uncomfortable conversations about race in an effective and safe medium. One topic I found especially informative was “Say my name say my name (Correctly Please),” where contributors discussed the challenges that arise from “difficult” names in the broader community.

History Chicks: This podcast focuses on women throughout history. Women often take second fiddle to their male counterparts. History Chicks delves into these figures in great detail. For example, explore the history of Katharine of Aragon (Henry VIII’s set-aside first wife). She is more than a footnote to the Tudors.

These are just a few examples of podcasts that I enjoy with my students. I hope you will explore and find some topics to share in the notes below or in your own classrooms.

Failure is Your Friend

I am a big fan of the Freakonomics Podcast. This week, they highlighted the power of failure. In the new educational environment of high stakes testing, the ability to fail has been taken out of the game. This is fundamentally problematic as the greatest way to learn in life is through failure! In fact, many of the most influential people in history attribute their success to learning from failure. This esteemed list includes the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison!

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This week’s podcast tells us that not only should failure not be stigmatized, it should be celebrated!

I always tell my students — fail quickly. The quicker you fail the more chances you have to fail at something else before you eventually maybe find the thing that you don’t fail at. – Levitt

You can listen to the full podcast on their website here or download it from iTunes and Subscribe!

The 3 Most Important Words: “I Don’t Know”

I love listening to podcasts! In fact, I hardly listen to the radio any more. Instead, I plug in my SmartPhone and cruise listening to an episode about comedy, literature, history, technology, and the broader world at large. Most recently, I listened to this week’s Freakonomics Podcast (published for free). If you are unfamiliar with Freakonomics, it was a a popular book in 2009 “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economists Explores the Hidden Side to Everything.”

Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?

What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?

How much do parents really matter?

These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to parenting and sports—and reaches conclusions that turn conventional wisdom on its head. 

Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. They set out to explore the inner workings of a crack gang, the truth about real estate agents, the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan, and much more.

Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, they show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives—how people get what they want or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing.

The popular book resulted in a lot of conversation about how the world around us works and resulted in several more book as well as a popular website, blog,

Freakonomics, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Freakonomics, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

and radio show. What I love about it is that it’s not just about money (although I’m sure I could use that advice as well), but it explores hidden cause and effect. As a historian, this is my bread and butter.

This week’s topic focused on the power and our inherent fear of “I don’t know.” In fact, they argued that these three words are the most difficult words for people to say. In fact, in our own world we stigmatize a lack of knowledge and, as such, people are hesitant to admit when they do not know information – even when confronted with an unanswerable question! This behavior starts in childhood.

In the world of learning, we know that exploration, challenge, and even failure are our most important tools. As Levitt says, “There’s only one way to learn, and that’s through feedback.” If you think you already have the answers, then you don’t go looking for them. Instead, you must admit when you don’t know something and then work to find the answer! In fact, if you refuse to admit your own lack of knowledge, the consequences can be both financially and emotionally expensive. By refusing to acknowledge a lack of knowledge, we then forgo the process of exploration and learning.

You can listen to the podcast below:

Check out the podcast here or subscribe via the iTunes store here. Next, admit when you don’t know and encourage your students to do the same. After that, “work like a dog to learn.”

Digital Parenting 101: An iTunesU Course For Parents

Great resource!

Hooked On Innovation

digitalparentlogo Digital Parenting iTunesU course

Part of having any type of success in a school is to have the support of parents.  While some schools can overcome a lack of parent involvement or support, most depend on the idea that “it takes a village” to raise a child.  The same is true of any successful mobile device initiative.  I’ve had over 50 talks/discussions/trainings with community members and parents in our district since the launch of the LEAP iPad Initiative in Fall of 2011, and that’s still not enough.

We’ve hosted panels of parents discussing their concerns and values with technology use.  We’ve brought in experts on cyber-bullying and internet safety.  We’ve even had back-to-school nights where we’ve invited parents to see and use the device as a child in the classroom would.

Knowledge is a powerful thing and lately, many parents are looking for more and more materials on what to…

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Free Webcasts for Plagiarism Education Week (April 21-25)

Plagiarism Education Week is April 21-25. Turnitin.com is hosting a series of free webcasts to highlight methods to combat plagiarism from pre-emptive education, structuring assignments, and addressing the issue after the fact. Topics include:

To learn more about Plagiarism Education, enroll, or participate, visit their blog post here.

Turnitin-PEW-Logo-2014-Hor-Lg

Flipping your Professional Development

This past weekend, I had the privilege of being an invited guest of Dr. Will Deyamport on his weekly podcasts, “The Dr. Will Show.” The subject of the conversation was flipping your professional development. I recently wrote an article, “Flip your PD for Greater Flexibility and Support.” Our conversation was excellent – we discussed the role that flipped pd plays in training faculty and supporting them in their professional development. You can see the full video below:

I also encourage you to check out Will’s blog for more resources on educational technology.