I’ve had a plan in my mind for a while now to create podcasts of student work with my Senior classes but until today it hadn’t come to fruition. The task I set was quite a simple one as it was the first time me or the students had tried it.
The students were required to review some information from our First Aid course and create a script of the important information that would help someone else deal with a casualty in different environments. Students then had to record the podcast. Our school computers have a free audio recording program called Audacity on them which allowed the students to capture their work and then export it as an Mp3. It was then uploaded through Moodle so that I had access to each file. Students used headphones with a microphone attached but if using a laptop students could just use the in built microphone but you might want to let them out into the wild so that they don’t pick up the background noise of 15-20 students all speaking at once!
My plan is to upload this to ‘Podomatic‘ – another free site for hosting podcasts that the students can use to download from through itunes. That’s the plan anyway, however, at present I’m having issues with uploading because I can’t download the latest version of Flash – Argh! (I’ll be on to our helpdesk first thing tomorrow!!)
The success of todays lesson though, was the engagement of the students to the task. Not only did they work quickly to get their scripts written, but they recorded and re-recorded their podcasts after listening and reviewing what they’d said to see could improve them. I think students could also review each others recordings and give constructive feedback on what else they could include, how they could make it better
However, I think the greatest potential of a project like this is for my Stage 6 (HSC) students writing revision podcasts. If i can get students creating podcasts regularly of sections of the units we’re studying and uploading them to podomatic, students should be able to subscribe to the podcasts via Itunes. This will mean that come the end of Year 12, they will have digital study notes that will allow students to use them any where, any time. That means they can listen to study notes in the car, on the bus or train or more importantly when they are out walking or exercising at the gym – which from a PE teachers point of view has to be a good thing!
I recently had a frank discussion with a number of students in one of my classes who were regular abstainers from practical lessons whether they had their PE uniforms or not. I asked the two students to write down why they didn’t like participating in practical lessons. They came up with a range of statements about not enjoying getting sweaty at school, not having time or appropriate facilities to shower after lessons and not enjoying team sports. However, they did mention that they understand the need to remain active and that it’s important to their health. It’s just that they prefer walking and lower intensity activities. So, it got me thinking, is our role just to teach students the skills and strategies required to participate in team games or is it about developing lifelong learners? I’m pretty sure its a bit about both, but is it worth pushing one at the expense of the other?
The result of our discussion and the resultant reflection on the statements is that I’ve decided to run a separate ‘test’ unit for them – they’re my beta testers I guess. Currently, during our practical lessons, these two students have created a blog (aptly named – http://www.wehatepe.tumbler.com) to record their ideas and reflect on their progress. They have been set the task of researching what’s required of them to stay healthy ie how often they need to exercise, what intensity – and setting, goals on what they plan to achieve. The plan is that they will adhere to their ‘exercise plan’ outside of school and will then spend time reflecting on how they are going, what’s stopped them (barriers to participation), what they enjoy about it, what they don’t, how they can make it more interesting over time (adding variety).
My hope that this will provide them with an opportunity to develop an understanding of how they can include physical activity into their daily routines to remain healthy and develop the skills to plan for and overcome obstacles to achieving their goals. They’ll still be involved in some of our practical units/lessons on movement composition, skill development but at other times they’ll be able to use this time to reflect on their progress or even use the time to continuing exercise how they choose to.
I’m hoping this works to produce individuals who not only see the importance of being active but who become lifelong participants in physical activity.
My question to you is, is this worthwhile? Is it better to have them physical active somewhere and engaged in learning about it during class time, or should I persit with them with the whole class in practical lessons? What else can I try?
I look forward to your thoughts.