Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Blogging on Podcasts

The final "project" that my AP American Government class completed is worth mentioning because it produced excellent results and is easily adaptable to a variety of subject areas. It was conducted entirely outside of classroom time, and the kids really liked it.

Students were asked to independently view a documentary film which related to our course. They were then required to produce a ten minute podcast which included a summary and dealt with such areas as

*Did the director betray any biases?

* What important things did you learn from the film?

* Name one or more weaknesses of the film.

* Would you recommend this film to others? On what basis? Explain.

The podcasts were uploaded to an iWeb podcast page. Students were then randomly assigned to review two of their classmates' podcasts and blog the reviews at the site. Here were the instructions for writing the reviews:

1. Whose podcast did you review and what was its length?

2. Was the main theme of the film explained clearly? What did you understand the main theme to be.?

3. How was the general pacing of the broadcast? Was the volume satisfactory? Did the student seem prepared?

4. Did the broadcaster seem informed and confident? Explain.

5. Describe at least two important facts or arguments that the student provided.

6. Did the film sound interesting? What came across as its strengths and weaknesses.

7. What other information about the film did you glean and/or what other stylistic points about the presentation were noteworthy?

The exercise produced excellent blogs, and once again I found that podcasting produced excellent writing. (Just listen to Allegra's superb review of The War Room).

The students responded to the transparency of the work and sampled each other's work beyond the requrirements. Each watched a worthwhile film, and quite possibly some have been enticed to watch a few more that their peers recommended.

P.S. If you missed it due to the holiday, take a peek at "Rick's Off to College Computing Tips" and forward link to families of graduating high school seniors. The post now followed by some worthwhile commentary from college students.

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