Looking for a way to engage your students in a podcasting activity? Try making them journalists. Better yet, make them journalists without the confines of time and space. Let’ face it, it would be great to have your students podcast on a current event. Let’s say on an upcoming election for your Politics class. But that isn’t always practical. Don’t count on Fermat’s Theorem or the golden spike making it into today’s news.
Have your students report on a past event, but in the present tense. This can be done in a couple different ways.
- Individual: acts as a regular reporter reporting on an event (ex. Battle at Vimy Ridge)
- Pairs: Journalist and interviewee (Nothing like a sit down with Niels Bohr)
- Group: 1 anchor, 1 reporter, 1 interviewee, 1 guest expert etc.
The different groupings have different benefits in terms of getting students to frame their thinking in a certain way. Since something is taking place “now,” the journalist needs to be concerned with the context and surroundings of the event. Different roles in the group setting will also frame their thinking a certain way. An expert may be all about facts. The journalist may have a certain angle. The interviee may just be a bystander that has a certain viewpoint; maybe as a mother, or a business owner. The anchor may be concerned with summarizing the story, or to ask questions as to how the events relate to another topic.
The key part here (and with other podcasting tasks) is that you are challenging students to shift their thinking. They have to deepen their analysis before synthesizing some information as a podcast (yes I did just use two Bloom’s Taxonomy words in one sentence.)
I have given students a series of questions they need to ask themselves (as journalists/anchors/etc.) before they write their script. Some may include:
- What is the culture of the time? war, poverty, prosperity, disco?
- What demographic does the story affect, or who will you report for? everyone, young, old, blue collar?
- Does the event have a mood? somber, joyous, fearful?
- Does location matter? What does it sound and smell like?
- As a character (ex. Queen Victoria), what is my personality? What do I sound like? What kind of words would I use?
- As an expert, do I have an agenda? How can I relate how much I love this topic?
These don’t necessarily have to be answered formally, but it helps get students thinking about the style of their podcast ahead of time.
Ranging in terms of creativity, some may not appeal to you – but often the more creative ideas appeal to students. You may wish to combine a couple if students are working in groups. I haven’t tried all the styles, so please share your results if you have.
- Report on current event
- Interview with famous explorer/inventor/scientist/artist/etc. (ex. Coumbus, Peter the Apostle)
- Report on “opposite” side. (ex. A Russian reporter during Cuban Missile Crisis.)
- Report on possible future event (ex. The banning of combustion engines, first human clone)
- “As it happens” report (ex. “Sir John A MacDonald has just become the Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada!”)
- Debate with Experts (ex. pro vs. anti impressionist art)
- Fictional Debate(ex. Gatsby vs. Holden Caulfield on moral decay)
- Impossible Debate(ex. Darwin vs. Neo on evolution)
- On the Street (ex. several quick responses on how plate tectonics just caused “that” earthquake)