What I Learned from Langwitches
Teaching students to write their own blogs and comment on other students' blogs is a wonderful way to introduce technology as an educational tool, and teach the skills that students need to use it efficiently. There is an organization of four schools across the globe that collaborate in teaching how to blog, called "quadblogging".
While a first grade teacher was absent for an extended amount of time, another teacher stepped in to run the class. She had the students read a book and record their own "read-along audiobook" of the text being read aloud. This is similar to a podcast, like you can create or purchase on Itunes. Podcasts are designed to enable non-media individuals to express their opinion or get information out via the internet. Joe Dale says that "podcasting is an effective way to interact with students outside of the traditional classroom."
Students, especially those third grade and younger, are thrilled when they have an audience. When people comment on their podcasts, they become more proud of the work they have done. Positive reinforcement is vital in the classroom. The way they see it (according to Langwitches) they are putting their voices "into other people's computers at iPods." There are seven steps a successful podcast: 1- be familiar with the program you're using, 2- give students a choice in their topic, 3- give students a choice on who to work with, 4- give examples of podcasts before the assignment, 5- give students a good amount of time to complete the project, and 6- invite an audience (like the principal) to listen to their podcasts when they're done. These steps were provided by Judy Scharf on Curriki.
Third grade students in a video on Langwitches describe the importance of Avatars and what they are. They basically say that avatars are representative of yourself minus your physical appearance. They are symbolic of what you are like on the inside, and you can use them as learning tools in the classroom.
Flat Stanley is a fun activity for elementary aged kids. My mother, a fourth grade teacher at Walker Elementary in Northport, does this with her kids. I have taken pictures with Flat Stanley myself. This is fun for the students because the paper Flat Stanley gets to travel to different places, and when he gets back to the classroom the kids know he's been there. Langwitches has students do a podcast about Flat Stanley as well, they created flat versions of themselves on the smart board and started mailing them around instead.
As for podcasting, I have learned that there is more than one computer program for recording podcasts (i.e. Garageband as well as iTunes). It is important to speak clearly and to edit out any mistakes or "dead space". Your audience is the most vital factor of creating a podcast, because stating your opinion is useless if it isn't heard. You can use podcasts as study tools or lessons as well. The information provided by Ms. Silvia Talisano of Langwitches and Joe Dale have helped me better understand what a podcast is and how to successfully make one.