The Pod is Mightier Than The Pen? Student Podcasting & Local Mysteries – Part One

by / Thursday, 22 October 2015 / Published in Blog
Students Podcasting about Local Mysteries

Lately I’ve been experimenting with a particular writing class. One of the motivations for being so experimental is the ritual compliance of students in this class. While I understand they are seniors and excited about graduating and moving on to the next phase of life, they are also still high school students who need instruction and challenges and practice - especially when it comes to analysis of text and writing.


One “experiment” was with technology. One of the CCSS requires students to:


Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data (SL.12.2).


My solution to engaging students was to have them create podcasts.  


The paper that my students were required to write was a process paper. These can usually be kind of boring, so I used the Gimlet podcast Mystery Show to help spice things up. After listening to Starlee Kine investigate the story behind the lost belt buckle (Episode 3), my students were encouraged to identify mysteries in their own lives. This got very interesting very fast.  


One student decided to investigate the artist who drew a picture of her grandmother 70 years ago. Another student actually sat down with her family and asked questions about a story she’s heard a hundred times before, but never really listened to. (It turns out, her grandfather was in cahoots with Imelda Marcos!) One group of students decided to research a local murder investigation, while another group looked into the local legend surrounding a gravestone in an old country cemetery.


The guidelines for their mysteries were simple -- They had to conduct interviews, send emails, and visit locations; but the mystery had to be something that could not be solved by searching the internet.  


While the process paper format was my initial goal, we quickly realized that a lot of these stories could be told through their own podcasts. I gave students the option to write a formal process paper or experiment themselves with creating a Podcast using the SoundTrap, a music program available on our school’s Chromebooks.


To be continued...

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