Thursday, October 20, 2005

Podcasting in Science? Why Not?

Podcast Logo

One of projects I have been enjoying this school year has been the creation of podcasts in my classroom. Think of a podcast as a radio show. Each show consists of a series of individual episodes that you can listen to how you want — on your PC, using your MP3 player, or with just a web browser.

If you've never listened to podcasts, you're in for a treat. Sports, comedy, movies, food, politics, music, books, speeches, walking tours, whatever — you name the topic and you'll find podcasts about it. Not only do you have incredible choice, you can listen whenever and wherever you want.

You can listen to these episodes one at a time (say using your web browser) or you can 'subscribe' to the entire podcast series using software on your PC. When you subscribe to a podcast, all new shows will be automatically downloaded to your computer as they are published. And if you have an MP3 player, the next time you sync your device, your podcasts will b downloaded for listening on the go.
View the list of 8 episodes on and click on the listen button to hear our podcasts without any special software.

Ok, why is a science teacher interested in using podcasting in a science classroom. This requires us to reveiw how knowledge & understanding is impacted by classroom instruction. Podcasting allows students time to explore areas of curiosity. If a question arises during the brainstorming and writing of podcast scripts, we discuss those ideas and redirect the discussion back to our current topic. This process of pre-writing provides lessons that are intellectually challenging. If the student has a question, the teacher does not just give the answer. The teacher answers the question with a question. Planning lessons for students to podcast can help students connect areas of learning and have students compare and contrast to search for relationships. During the brainstorming, the teacher asks students to use mind mapping tools to graphically organize the concepts in the lesson. Students are able to record their observations and data as they use a discovery approach to learning whenever possible.
Approaching topics of learning from various angles motivate students. Students need the variety of instructional strategies to stimulate their minds. A textbook and worksheets bore our digital native students to tears. When the teacher posts the podcasts on the Web and provides the students with the url so they can share what they are learning in class with family memeber, podcasting provides opportunities for philosophical thought and discussion.

The purpose of a podcast is not to teach them to use the technology or impress the principal. Podcasting is how digital native students think. They mix and match everything-- why should we think they would not be motivated by podcasting? IMHO, it is sneak learning, and we have to do whatever it takes to help them learn.

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