Students enjoy hands-on activities, especially if they involve technology. One of the more popular assignments students have in the Journalism 1 class (an introductory class) is creating a podcast. We use GarageBand (which comes free on the iMac desktop computers) to record the under-3-minute podcast. The podcasts are hosted on the free website PodBean.com. Another site you can upload to for free is SoundCloud, which many teenagers are familiar with since several have accounts on that platform.
I give a brief demo of how to use GarageBand and how to upload to the Podbean websie. Students work in groups of two, which helps if you don’t have enough computers. Students bring their own earbuds and use the computers’ built-in microphones. Sometimes, students use the microphone in their earbuds.
Students produce a podcast twice a year, as a final in the fall semester and as a mid-term in the spring. In groups of two, once students are in pairs, they each select one story they’ve written that semester. The fall podcast is usually a news podcast. This student example focuses on teens and technology. This second student example is from the spring when the podcasts theme is entertainment. This student example features two restaurant reviews and silly jokes.
Once each student has selected their story, the pairs work together to make corrections to their stories, which have been graded. They edit them to make the stories shorter, they write a script (introduction and closing) and give each other feedback on their work. The students practice reading their stories aloud to keep the correct pace. Often, students have to practice reading their scripts several times before they begin recording. Students add jingles and music, so I give them a brief overview on why they should use music that is copyright-free.
In order to produce a podcast, students must have submitted one of the various stories I’ve assigned. I usually have a handful of students who have not submitted any story assignments so they scramble to submit a long-overdue story in order to participate in the podcast assignment. No student wants to be left out of producing a podcast.
Students usually take about two to three days to plan, record and edit their podcasts. This assignment allows students to get their work published and we spend half of a period listening to most of the podcasts once they’ve all been uploaded.