Grade school podcasting (and other technologies, too…)

From Canada’s Globe and Mail web site comes this article, “Web logs, podcasts and virtual classrooms.” Really interesting piece. Two quick highlights:

The “Room 208” podcast may just have the youngest production staff in the history of broadcasting. Written, produced and performed entirely by the third- and fourth-graders in Bob Sprankle’s class at the Wells Elementary School in Wells, Maine, the podcast — an on-line radio show that can be downloaded to an MP3 player — began in April, has 171 subscribers for its weekly 20- to 30-minute shows and includes regular features like Student News, The Week in Sports and Word of the Week.

and…

When Joel Arquillos, a social studies teacher at the Galileo Academy of Science and Technology in San Francisco, started his 11th-grade American history students blogging, he didn’t know what to expect. Mr. Arquillos set up a group blog as a joint project with David Boardman’s English class juniors and seniors from rural Winthrop High School in Maine for students to post assignments on-line, comment on each other’s work and expand their cultural awareness.

At first, the students needed to be prodded to post. But the blog took off when Mr. Arquillos had them write about their neighbourhoods. A student who lives in the Tenderloin district in San Francisco described her feelings about the drug dealing and gang violence in the neighbourhood. The Maine students posted that they had thought neighbourhoods like the Tenderloin were urban legends.

Soon, the students started posting on their own to find out what their peers cross-country thought about various subjects (the structure of the new SATs, good reasons to skip the prom, among many), discussions that almost came to match the assigned writings in volume.

“I want to give these kids the tools to say, ‘Hey, my voice is important in this world,”‘ Mr. Arquillos said after the year-long experiment. “This blog helps me do that.”

Hey, how cool is that, huh?

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