Assessing Radio Productions: Podcasting in the Lower Secondary

 

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(Gray, 2007, Podcasting Logo, Flickr)

 

Podcasting is a creative and ingenious way of working with oral English in the language classroom. What is more, it is a way of documenting students’ phonological competence and digital productions. It can target specific competence aims. Students are very familiar to be giving oral presentations in the good ol’ PPT-design. Using podcasting and radio plays could serve to varying the teaching further, as well as enabling students in using digital tools in authentic work as producers.

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(Wispfox, 2008, Space Camp Headset, Flickr)

 

Resources and budget

A potential threshold and reason for avoidance of such activities is resources and school budget. However, in 2014 schools are equipped with computers (or at least, they should be), and many are equipped with headsets for communication. Richardson (2009) emphasises the ease of facilitating podcasting in today’s schools. He says all you need is about 100$ and an Internet connection. Podcasting could thus be a cost-efficient endeavour.

Post-Millennium Teaching, Rooms for Learning, and Podbean

Working with media is a step toward a progressive language teaching classroom. Vettenranta argues that media work in the classroom could be useful way of combining subject specific activities with entertainment and dreams. Working with radio plays and podcasting inhabits the potential of supporting different learner styles. Students are given different roles in the working process. By employing Prinds’s (1999) framework of different rooms for learning, students are taught and trained before becoming autonomous learners. Students are deductively given examples and instruction in the teaching room. Showing and listening to podcasts that are published on a free Podcast blog, such PodBean, serves very well instead of showing a lot of text and information. The power of an example should not be underestimated. A few years ago I took a year course in Digital Competence at Volda University College. My group and I published a couple of episodes. You can access the online: http://vattkimd.podbean.com/ . They are recorded in Norwegian. PodBean is a great and easy way of publishing audio files, and you can subscribe to the channel via an RSS-feed.

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(k1ng51z3, 2008, rss, Flickr)

 

Podcasting in Lower Secondary: A Model

An idea I have thought about is using podcasting in Lower Secondary. There are plenty of competence aims that could be reached as seen below. My idea is to work with variants of English by combining oral communication and digital tools and working methods. The aim is to make radio plays, publish them as podcasts on the topic of a chosen variant of English. In terms of assessment, students should receive peer-to-peer feedback as well as teacher comments and response during the course of the work. The product and a reflection log of the working process will serve as material for final assessment. The time frame is set to four weeks, since recording, producing and editing are all time-consuming processes. Students write scripts, record, edit, produce, and publish.

 

Relevant Competence Aims

Oral communication

  • choose and use different listening and speaking strategies that are suitable for the purpose
  • express oneself fluently and coherently, suited to the purpose and situation

Language learning

  • select different digital resources and other aids and use them in an independent manner in own language learning
  • listen to and understand variations of English from different authentic situations

 

Culture, Society and Literature

  • create, communicate and converse about own texts inspired by English literature, films and cultural forms of expression

 

Learning Aims

–          Choose and give an account for a variety of English (e.g., Jamaican English, Cockney, Scottish, Geordie, Boston English, Scouse, etc.)

–          Give an account of the variety and provide examples of speech sounds that are distinct for the chosen variety

–          Write a script for the radio play

–          Distribute tasks and roles

–          Using YouTube to collect listening examples of chosen variety of English

–          Produce a radio play

–          Record own voice in English adapted to the genre of radio play

–          Edit sound files in Audacity

–          Downloading and using sound files in keeping with copyright regulations (e.g., Creative Commons Licenced material, e.g. Freesound.org)

–          Publish radio play as podcast at Podbean.com

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is an important aspect of the project work in podcasting. In the course of a four week period the students will receive feedback on their progress. The teacher should be active in the process and tutor students. In week 2, different groups comment on each other’s work and hence scaffold each other’s learning processes. Here, the focus is on feedforward (as opposed to feedback), where students are given guidelines on how to improve their product. In week 3, teacher comments on the first draft. Students work on finalising their products in week 4, in addition to giving peer assessment. Finally, students write a reflection note on their learning process and role in the project. Summative assessment of the total process and project follows.

 

Summative assessment

–      The student has participated constructively in the group work, shown a positive attitude, and shown will to cooperation

o    Comment:

–      The student has actively participated in recording and the editing process

o    Comment:

–      The student shows knowledge and insight of a variety of English

o    Comment:

–      The student can express himself/herself with ease in English adapted to the aims of the recording

o    Comment:

–      The student shows netiquette and has used copyright cleared sources and material in the production

o    Comment:

–      The student has been independent and taken responsibility throughout the learning process

o    Comment:

–      The student has met the deadlines and made appointments with the teacher

o    Comment:

–      The student has participated actively in the assessment process

 

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(Murphy, 2004, Houston we have a headset, Flickr)

 

 

References

Prinds, E. (1999). Rum til læring. København: Center for Teknologistøttet uddannelse.

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

UDIR. (2006). Læreplanverket for Kunnskapsløftet (LK06). Oslo: Utdanningsdirektoratet.

Vettenranta, S. (2007). Mot mediedysleksiens tidsalder? In S. Vettenranta (Ed.), Mediedanning og mediepedagogikk. Oslo: Gyldendal akademisk forlag.

2 thoughts on “Assessing Radio Productions: Podcasting in the Lower Secondary

  1. Hi Kim-Daniel,
    I totally agree that podcasting is a very attractive method for the English classroom. You mention the benefits for oral competency and I think that the biggest advantage here is that the students can actually train their competency without having to rely only on spontaneous utterances in the classroom. They can practise how they speak and delete whatever did not work out and no one will know about the attempts that were not that successful and how many they needed to come up with the final version. Moreover I think that assessing podcast can take a lot of pressure from teachers because they as well can listen to the oral products again and again and make decisions about assessment in the quiet of their study.
    It is possible that some dread working with projects that are time consuming but I think any kind of extensive projects that involves students in the planning process will lead to so much more sustainable learning that it is worth it.

  2. There are so many aspects I could have commented here, Kim Daniel, but let me just pick a few:
    – Good to see how you draw on and refer to literature you have been reading when writing your own blog entry.
    – Good to see that you remember to break down competence aims into more concrete and feasible learning objectives for this specific task
    – It is also good to see that you have added ideas not only for the summative assessment, but also some suggestions for hoe the important formative assessment (the feed forward) could be carried out with a podcast project.

    I have carried out several podcast projects in my own English classes over the years, and it has nearly always been warmly welcomed in the student group. It’s an interesting way to give voice to those who do not like to participate orally in class.

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