Students at Henry Larsen Elementary School Podcast into 21st Century Learning as Content Creators

Written by: Angela Robinson

Students at Henry Larsen Elementary School explored podcasting this year and became their own content creators while developing their digital fluency skills https://anchor.fm/thehuskyden1

There has been a recent shift in the way we entertain ourselves and become informed. In a world where content creators are making an income by blogging, vlogging and creating podcasts, why not teach our students the skills necessary for this changing media landscape.

Students at Henry Larson Elementary School began by exploring topics and themes of their choice. The choice provided a sense of ownership over the final product. Students were able to choose if they worked alone, or in partners, as well as the subject of their podcast.

As part of the experiential learning project students connected with community partners, learning from media experts approaches to story telling and production to be used later in their own content.

The students were able to hear from The Interview Dudes; three 12-year-olds making a splash in the world of podcasting, having interviewed celebrities in many different arenas. The students were able to gain an understanding of what goes into the production of a podcast, and how to reach out to potential guests for interviews.

Students had the option to produce a podcast of their own thoughts, ideas and opinions, or to produce a podcast that invited members of the community to participate as guests. The students who wanted to have guests took on the responsibility of doing research to connect, and prepare to host their desired interview subject. 

By this stage the students were enthralled in the process. They had become experts on their topics. They had done the research and their interests were reflected in the content. The next step in the process involved production. The class reached out to Laurence Wall from CBC Radio and the hosts of the Morning Hottub on Hot 89.9. Both community partners were able to interact with the students, give them tips on how to speak into a mic, keep the audience engaged, move a conversation along, and also took the time to listen to some of the topics chosen by students and offering suggestions. 

Many students shared their topic ideas with Laurence Wall, who was able to provide feedback to help them shape their podcast. Wall also listened to the final podcasts, and shared ideas for next steps for future productions.

The excitement of the unit filtered through the hallways into other classrooms. This provided an opportunity for a whole intermediate division unit, which all students could be a part of. Work was shared amongst classes. Teachers collaborated on a cross- curricular approach, creating space for Art, Music, Language, French and more. In Music, the students created their own theme song for their podcast, while in Art they created their podcast logo.

The final production was all in the hands of the students. They learned how to record, edit and produce a full podcast episode. Students learned to use Anchor.fm to record, edit and publish their podcasts. Students managed the nuances of cutting unwanted soundbites, and adding music to help with transitions into different ideas throughout the episode. Students not only engaged in the process of publishing podcasts from start to finish; they produced something to share beyond the walls of the classroom, the school, and expressed themselves for the world to hear.

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