Allow about one week (one class period per day) to complete one episode.
- Podcasting will help students expand their reading, vocabulary, listening and speaking skills.
- They will be able to communicate with a worldwide audience.
- They will learn about sound (science) and work with electronic media.
- A computer - with a functioning sound card and an Internet connection (preferably high-speed) for uploading.
- A microphone - most computers have serviceable ones built in but an external mike is preferred if it is available. Portable MP3 players (iPods, Sansa) can also be used to record sound as can video recorders.
- Free Sound Editing Software: Garageband comes preinstalled on MAC computers and no additional software will be needed. For Window users, like ourselves there is Audacity or WavePad. Both are FREE to download and easy to use. Audacity has more capabilities but WavePad may be easier to use for younger students. With Audacity you will also need to download an add-on file called lame_enc.dll.
- Earphones (nice but not necessary)
- Media programs such as Windows Media Player and Real Player will work just fine or try iTunes for playback and listening - free download.
Primarily for classes doing more than one episode
- Libsyn.com - for hosting. A few dollars per month
- Podcasting Tips - covers copyright issues and tips for doing a show
- For Mac users: This How-To Article may be useful
- Create Podcast using your PC
- Listen to a few Activated Stories podcasts and some other podcasts to introduce the students to the format and how podcasting works. Search for podcasts produced by other schools to share with your students. Also, introduce the students to Radio Dramas produced in 1940's and 1950's (The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, Suspense, etc) and/or excerpts from A Prairie Home Companion by Garrison Keillor (Lake Wobegon) to spawn ideas.
- Choose folktale(s) for the class to record and adapt. Either read the story together as a class or have the class choose a folktale they are already familiar with. (Alternative: Book reviews, discussions about books and stories, or interviews with folktale characters.)
- Students become familiar with recording sound and the editing software. The sound editing software will enable students to see the sound waves and patterns. (science) Have the students experiment with recording and editing sound samples.
- Review the key points of the story. Discuss the format and create an outline or script for your show. This does not have to be a word-for-word script; allow for some spontaneity and casual conversation or the podcast will end up sounding stilted. Remind them that their audience cannot see any action, so they will have to use descriptive words, character voices and sound effects.
On day two, you can divide the class into two groups. One group works with the sound editing software on the computers, while the other group does the outline or storyboard.
- Record using the computer and microphone with the sound-editing software. If someone messes up, just pause and repeat. Play it back listening for parts that need to be cut out or re-recorded.
- Save the original file and then edit a copy of the recording (give the version you are editing a different name just in case!). Show the students (or let them figure out) how to cut out long pauses, clicks and pops, and to equalize the sound and move words, sounds and dialogue around. Add polish by adding fades and music. It's best to come up with orginal content so you don't violate any copyright laws. See the additional resource list (yellow box) for royalty free audio.
- Finish editing, add sound effects and bumpers (music before and at the end) and use the sound-editing software to save the file as an .MP3
- Promote it. The job is not done until you have an audience. Students should write a short description about the podcast geared toward enticing listeners. Brainstorm and write it together as a class or hold a contest and select the best one to post on the Internet. Students should tell their friends and family when the podcast will be available and give them instructions for tuning in. The class can create fliers to put up around the school, add a link to the school web site and send out email to potential listeners. Please include us on this list -- we'd love to listen to it.
Do It Again
Podcasting can become an ongoing classroom project that engages the students and builds communication and technology skills.
- Teamwork: Break into teams, assign roles and define jobs such as: researchers, writers, speakers, sound effects, recording engineers, sound editors and advertising. Be sure to rotate job assignments.
- Develop Math Skills: Classes creating an ongoing podcast will be able to track and chart their listeners.