Thursday, December 20, 2007

getting through that awkward stage

The decision to do a new lesson or project is a daunting, challenging, and soul-questioning endeavor. When integrating a snazzy 2.0 (two point oh) component, planning, like any other lesson, is extremely important. If you’re new to Podcasting or Digital Storytelling, getting your proverbial timeline set can be an exercise of total mystery and guesswork.

After a semester of working with classes, I’ve formulated a pretty little set of advice to live by from now on. Believing that these new tools can increase student achievement, I offer the following recommendations whenever you should choose to incorporate Podcasting or Digital Storytelling with your classes.


  • Write, edit, revise, write, edit, revise (rinse and repeat).
  • Grade those scripts!

  • Rehearse, rehearse, and then keep on rehearsing.
  • Familiarize students with a recording program. Use Audacity; it's free.

  • Give a set time limit for recording. Since a good length for a Podcast is a couple minutes, ten minutes is a fair window for production.
  • Tell students to talk to a point five feet beyond the microphone in order to eliminate "Quiet Talkers".
  • Screech...screech! Keep that microphone stationary @ all times!
  • Create a group folder on your school’s server so podcast files can be saved to an easily accessible location.
  • The teacher should save the file when the student is finished recording.

Movies / Digital Storytelling:

  • Write a three-column script (or story board), edit, revise, write a three column script (or story board), edit, revise (rinse and repeat).
  • Grade those scripts / story boards!
  • Use Atomic Learning or Flickschool to teach basic cinematography. Ask your TV Production teacher to help, or a teacher with a strong acumen for video production.
  • Have students talk you through their intended shots. Ask clarifying questions; settle for nothing less than comprehension and confident interpretation of topic.
  • If filming during class time, have students fill out a location sheet so you know where they are at all times.
  • Fear absence. Store the tapes at the end of every day. Don’t let kids go home with them.
  • Time permitting, share all / portions of the raw footage with the class and continue to discuss topic (comprehension and interpretation). They’ll not only think about their filming, but also, and more importantly, their understanding of their topic.
  • Create a group folder on your school’s server so files can be saved to an easily accessible location.
Like any lesson, if you see its relative value, you should most definitely be able to make it work. The first time through may remind you of that awkward prepubescent phase, but remember, eventually you’ll grow into that momentarily misshaped frame.


Damian said...

Good tips here, Ken. I'm finishing up podcasting with my sophomores right now, and have found my own way to many of the tips you give here.

Can't stress enough - write, revise, write, revise, REHEARSE, REHEARSE. The kids think it's sooooo easy (you mean we don't have to do a paper? awesome!) until they get in front of that mic.

LS said...

I really appreciate the advice. My last digital storytelling unit was, well, a bust. I thought I was prepared but I allowed the Gods Of Rush To Completion to rule our days. (At least I jumped in to the 2.0 arena and started practicing what I preach, read about, and admire.)

Maybe next time the unit will be better, thanks to your tips.