This was a task set as part of our integrated topic that linked in with our English planner. Our Integrated topic titled ‘Testing The Waters’ Level 3 (grade 3&4) Term 2 2009 Integrated Planner, English Planner Term 2 2009. A Science topic that looked at living and non-living things in a particular ocean habitat. Having six classes in grades 3 and 4 worked to our advantage because we were able to allocate a particular ocean habitat to each class. The main written task was for students to research and produce an information report on an animal that lives in a particular habitat. After an amazing excursion to Ricketts Point (see student blog posts by Jaso and Cemie Girl and Kirubiru), the students couldn’t wait to ‘sink their teeth’ into some solid research on their sea animals and habitats. Their enthusiasm paid off and some amazing information reports and posters were produced.
The next phase of the Rich Task was for the students to create a Podcast in the style of a short (1 to 2 minutes) news report using the information from their report. First we had to tune in, literally. The best examples of podcast news reports was on the ABC website. I chose the ABC’s news program ‘AM’ and ‘PM’ because they had all the elements that I wanted to model. For example: Intro and Outro music, Main Headlines, Sub headlines, Tone of voice to suit the nature of a news report, back ground music to create and maintain interest and a conclusion or closing remarks.
Garageband was going to be our main tool. The wonderful thing about using this piece of software is that with only a few clicks the students have access to a podcast template. See images below
This makes life so much easier when trying to model for students. The Main Tracks are already in place and rather than having to create complete sound tracks to and back ground together, Garageband has complete jingles ready to click, drag and dump into the work space.
Using one of the finished student information reports we put together a quick whole class news report. We worked on timing and tone of voice. The students were really motivated by how easy it was to choose the music and then record the voice over the top. When in Podcast mode Garageband automatically fades the Jingle track so that it doesn’t over power the voice. Brilliant! You may need to clip some of the over hang of the recorded voice to get the true effect of the music fading in and out with the news reader.
The next step was for the students to plan their news report. Each pair were given a template (Podcast Template Main Points) to use as a guide for their plan. This proved to be very useful because once they had written all their information on it they were then able to go and begin to put their draft podcast together. Some students had scripted exactly what they were going to say. Yet some students clearly desired a little freedom to improvise and used dot points or short statements. Either way both proved to be effective.
I was fascinated by the level of engagement as the students were working. Some students had independently moved to another space and were rehearsing their lines, others were just going for it and recording each rehearsal straight into Garageband. I over heard discussions about timing, volume, muting sound, deleting, splicing, looping, tone and saving into the correct folder. There was evidence of interpersonal development as the students had to negotiate what role each was going to play, which loop, who was going to press record. I was witnessing the awe and wonderment of these students using technology and they were clearly impressed with what they had achieved.
I set up a little recording studio in the back store room for the final cut recording. It’s amazing what a couple pairs of head phones hooked up to a laptop hanging on a music stand can do to create a little authenticity. I chose not to use a mic because I didn’t want to complicate matters with a sound box. I really wanted to students to be independent and do all the recording themselves. All that was needed was the mic on the mac. We were now really pushed for time and as each group went in I gave them strict instructions that if they couldn’t nail it in a couple of takes that they were to leave the studio to return later after further rehearsal. The other pairs continued to rehearse their parts and tweak their drafts as each pair took their turn.
The plenary at the end of the day was awesome! They loved listening to each others podcast. Using an IWB to display their Garageband projects as they were listening was really useful so that they could see how others had constructed their podcast. Each podcast was received with a round of applause and loads of positive affirmations.
I hope you enjoy listening to some of them as I have facilitating their production. Some have already begun to post them up on their class blog at 4A’s Bloggerama. Below are some examples.