Monday, October 24, 2011

Podcasting a go-go!

OK I promised my self that I would not dump a thousand ideas on you about this subject. This is one of my most favorite things we do in the library…I will try to restrain myself.

First let me state that when I started this job I had no idea what a podcast was or how to make one. It took some time to understand how to use the program but once you do it it is so easy you will think of a hundred things to do with it. So do be afraid! I will send you helpful tutorials...just ask!

The project that I love the most is the “This I believe project.” I talked about it at the beginning of the semester. I will post a link again. But this is based on the NPR program, students are asked to write an essay that lets them express what they believe. Students record the essays and incorporate free music to add depth to their recordings. Listening to them you are met with a depth of feeling and emotion that most of these students do not share on a daily basis. They struggle with adult things and they are honest with their thoughts. Some are funny, some are tragic, and some will make you cry. It is a very moving project, and I am honored when I am invited to hear their words. Here is a link to the project and listen to some of their recordings
For this project there is a writing component, and we work with the teacher and the class to walk them through how to podcast, use Audacity, the editing software…its free! and how to save it correctly...which quite honestly is the biggest challenge that we face when making a podcast.

Another fun thing to do is to create stations and use it as a component of that station. Many of our Social Studies and ELA teachers put short video clips on the iPod to show students as a part of a lesson. Students can watch and listen to short videos that enhance the lesson. We download clips from sites that our BOCES subscribes to, from Teacher Tube, or YouTube. We also can add sound clips to for students to listen to; we have used recordings from Supreme Court proceedings and radio addresses.

A project that I developed last year with the LOTE department has also evolved and grown. I had an Italian teacher who wanted to help her prepare her regents students for their conversation final. I suggested that they could record their conversations, post them to their teacher’s site and they could access each others and use them for practice. We thought that we would do this project three times during the year. In the fall students would work their partner and write the conversation in English and then convert it, record it and post it. The second time they had to write it in Italian first and then record they could use a dictionary. By the third time students had to write the conversation without the aid of anything, to help simulate the final. They than recorded the conversation and posted the link. Students really liked this process and felt that it helped them understand and prepare for the final. We have archived the podcasts so others can listen to them and use them. We have since expanded to Spanish, and German.

You can use podcasting to add and enhance PowerPoint…especially great if you have shy students, or one who have trouble speaking in public. Create a podcast and import it to the PowerPoint to play along with the slides. There are a ton of different ways to use podcast that isn’t just a book review…which is still an excellent use of podcasts! Let me know if you want further information on any of these projects or other ideas that I didn’t talk about…its so much fun!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I love to collaborate with my teachers! It makes my day to think I helped to make a difference in my students lives. Being a teacher librarian it is crucial that we learn to collaborate with other teachers. This relationship is the key to the foundation of a successful library. We are there to aid and assist others in their pursuit of information and if we can bring that to them and create and aid in their lessons than they begin to depend on us and want to work with us all the time...and well that just makes me happy. When my library is empty I fear I did something wrong, did I anger someone, don't they like me? But when my phone is ringing off the hook and I have five classes going I am the most happy...cause I know that they like me...they really like me...little humor for the post 40 it. But I also know that they need me and want to provide something different for their students.

One of the fears I had when I thought about working with high school students was knowing the content. I had horrible flashbacks to 10th grade algebra...I still shudder at the thought! How in the heck was I going to teach math or chemistry? But I had to learn that I am not the content area teacher I am the teacher librarian. My job is not to teach math...thankfully but instead work with the math department to find resources that support and enhance what they are already learning...which is good since I can't even help my 6th grader do her math. I don't have to teach physics but I can provide the window in which they can test gravity by tossing pumpkins out of it. OK that is not a good example...but it was really fun though! One example of the type of collaboration that we do is with science and it began with two earth science teachers who wanted to find some ways to help students learn vocab words. We developed a lesson that students would create interactive games to create interesting ways of defining their vocab words. Working in pairs the students choose their games and created their answers. From there the students from each of the two classes graded and commented on each others work. We saved the student work in a shared drive and students could access the games at any time. The result was more than anyone hoped for. Not only were students engaged, but they collaborated with each other, they were excited to play the different games and they were honest when it came time to judge each other. They said they really learned a lot and many can be seen going back and replaying the games to study. Since last year we have also added physics, chemistry and biology. We use to create the games.

We podcast with everyone from LOTE to English to business to science. We help create movies and advertisement for health to forensics to sports marketing to history. We use a lot of technology in our library and many teachers are often too afraid to use it. So we make it easy for them, we walk along side of them and teach them as we teach the students. If the class is podcasting so is the teacher. If they feel comfortable with it than they will want to try it again. Or they will want to use it in a different way. We are always trying to learn and develop new programs that will enhance student learning. We just purchased new webcams so we can Skype with authors and take virtual field trips to the art gallery for lessons that will cover many different subjects and not just art. I would love to create a wiki for the library and allow student work to be added. I would love to create a bigger space to include book reviews, book suggestions and a forum for our students to talk more about what they are reading. Many of our participants of the summer reading program stayed behind to continue to talk about their books even as class was ending. I would like to provide a forum for them to continue to hold discussions like this.

I realize that not everyone is going to want to collaborate with me or use what the library offers. I am OK with that. But I am not going to stop wanting to support what you do and finding tools that you could use. I may tell you once in awhile that I found a cool website you might be interested in or if you need any DVDs or books that you might want for your class that I would happy to purchase it for the library for you to use. That way when and if you are ready to collaborate on a project I will be there waiting for you.

Collaboration is what makes us valuable to others and in turn what gives us the greatest feeling of fulfillment.