Podcasting…

ImageAfter reading the Learning Connections article “Enhanced Podcasts: A New Twist on an Old Tool,” got me excited about another tool to use in the classroom (this is a recurring theme). Podcasts, in the way this article describes, are definitely something I would use in the classroom.

However, I’m not as sure about podcasting for professional learning. I’ve participated in countless webinars (mostly for work) and have found them to be useful. I would tune in and out as I needed to and I was able to get work done at the same time. When I was actually interested in the webinar, I was even happier to participate and learn something new.

Browsing through the podcasts on the Edreach site, however, did not excite me as much. Perhaps it’s because I’m pressed for time this week (which I imagine will often be the case as a teacher) or maybe it’s because I’m not in professional learning-mode, but I could not find anything I was willing (or able) to sit and watch for an hour. And maybe simply watching won’t work for me. During webinars, there are often notes and/or PowerPoint slides provided to follow along with. There is a function to type in questions and often the moderator surveys the audience. The podcasts didn’t seem to be as interactive and lacked a “follow along” feature.

I probably shouldn’t judge podcasting as professional learning based on one website and definitely not based on my current lack of need. But, as I mentioned, using podcasts in the classroom for projects and maybe even lectures is more interesting to me. Just as long as they are not too long!

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Project-Based Learning

ImageThe Nuts and Bolts of 21st Century Teaching,” a blog post written by Shelley Wright, details her experience with project-based learning for a Holocaust unit. I’ve heard about similar experiences with teachers using project-based learning, but I especially liked the one described here.

During student teaching, I did an introduction lesson for Night by Elie Wiesel. I wanted to give the student background information about the Holocaust and WWII but I figured they didn’t need a lesson about dates and events. They probably knew more specifics than I did! Instead, I decided to focus on the question “Could the Holocaust happen again?” We looked at propaganda techniques used by the Nazis and compared them to techniques used in advertising today. The lesson went well and I can understand why these students chose to look at this aspect of the Holocaust for their project.

I would love to incorporate project-based learning in my classrooms. My only concern would be the open-endedness of it. In my experience, students are hesitant to believe that there are no guidelines or directions about an assignment. They often ask for specifics even if you didn’t want to give them. However, if the project is proposed to them in the right way, I think they could overcome their initial uncertainty and take advantage of the opportunity.