Editor’s note: In the following post, Ford’s Theatre Teacher-in-Residence (summer 2016) Dave McIntire discusses how to use podcasting as a teaching tool for middle school students’ public speaking.
As a Ford’s National Oratory Fellow, I strive to create opportunities for my students to share learning through public speaking. An interesting way I’ve done this is to have students create podcasts.
The assignment was: create a podcast for a historically important speech.
I wanted students to demonstrate their understanding of a historic speech, its author and the times in which it was delivered. Podcasting was perfect for this! They could analyze those three aspects (speech, speaker and context), develop informational writing skills, and practice public speaking techniques. The students loved it because it gave them ownership in how the information was presented by allowing them to use their own voice to explain and analyze their assigned historic speech.
Give it a try in your classroom by following these steps!
Teach Students How To Use Their Voices
I start with Ford’s verbal/vocal Podium Points, to introduce public speaking skills. As we move into our podcasting projects, I stress to students the importance of applying these skills, reminding them that the listener won’t see them. Their voices need to be confident and convincing. Ford’s verbal/vocal Podium Points will help them understand how to convey tone.
Use the oratory resources on the Ford’s Theatre Oratory Tips and Tricks page to build a foundation for public speaking skills. In addition to the Podium Points PDF, the page offers short videos for the skills, tips for memorization and guidance on using the rhetorical triangle in public speaking. These resources will support the vocal performance aspect of the students’ podcasts.
Get Acquainted With Podcasts
Listen to other examples of student podcasts.
Choose a video format for the podcast. Windows MovieMaker or Apple iMovie both work well. So does WeVideo if you are using a Chromebook. Check with your IT folks to make sure your building technology supports the format you select.
Consider Your Curriculum
Integrate formal writing skills into the assignment. The main difference between a podcast and a written report is the format of the final draft. A great podcast requires a great script. The final product may be different, but the process isn’t. My students research using note cards and turn in rough drafts and works cited as either paper or digital documents.
Cite your sources! I require a typed bibliography accompany the rough draft for their research. I don’t require a bibliography for the podcast since they acknowledge sources in the text of the script.
Test it Out
Play with podcasting yourself or use a small group of students as test subjects. The first year I introduced podcasting, I had to accept the limitations of time and technology. Recording the podcast became too complicated to be practical. I assessed their writings but invited students who wanted to continue to “play” with the podcast to let me know. Several intrepid souls and I learned what worked and what didn’t—that made it easier the next year.
Share your podcast
The point of a podcast is to be shared. Share it on your school’s YouTube channel or digital information network. Share it on the school’s website. Make it more than an “assignment”.
My students shared their podcasts through Google Docs, on Google Classroom or were shared on the school’s digital network (social network and YouTube). They listened to and discussed each other’s podcasts. This gave them a chance to offer warm and cool feedback and glimpses into each others’ speeches beyond just hearing them recited.
Podcasting requires my students to take ownership of their learning. I have been impressed at how engaged they with this. They think about how text, images and sound help a viewer gain a deeper understanding of history. Finally, it gives my students a voice to demonstrate their understanding of history in a dynamic way.
And for me, podcasting requires that I enter a world where my students feel more confident. It asks me to be as much a student as a teacher, creating a partnership between us that extends beyond one lesson.
Dave McIntire is in his 12th year at The Independent School, teaching both World and American History, Oratory and Civics. He is the 2015 Kansas Council for the Social Studies Middle School Teacher of the Year and served as Ford’s Theatre Teacher-in-Residence for summer 2016.