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Inside Practically Paradise

Podcasting with No Dollars

There are levels of collaborativeness. Can you find ways to transform lower levels of cooperation and coordination into collaborative projects? One of my goals this year is to help teachers unpack our new district technology standards including the technology communication standards. Using a lower level of initial collaboration, I sought a way to involve students in higher level thinking skills to assess their own process and products while communicating with others.

The library can be supportive of teacher and student classroom projects. Lisa Haygood and I discussed various genres for her third grade class to use which helped me ensure sufficient resources were available. When the projects were completed in their classroom, students proudly displayed them in the library. Because I wanted to capture and share their excitement, I decided this would make an excellent example of how you can podcast with elementary students.

Listen to these first-time podcasts: 







First I prepared a set of generic questions for the teacher and the students. I met with the students so we could discuss higher level skills of synthesizing information and communicating their results with others, in this case via a podcast. Knowing many schools have no equipment and might be hesitant to try a podcast, I set out to prove this was an easy process that anyone could try.

The basic process involves:

  • Establishing a free account with a pin number.
  • Using a telephone to dial in and enter the pin.
  • Recording the podcast, pressing #, and publishing the podcast to the web (an option).
  • Logging on to the computer with my password and listening to their podcasts.
  • Exporting the podcasts as MP3 files.
  • Sharing the URL or the MP3 file with others.

Teacher Questions:

What do you call this project? A New Cereal On The Shelf
Tell me about this project. The children were to read a fiction book, then invent a cereal representing the book. It had to present info in a fun, creative format.
Where did you find the idea? In the book 24 Ready to Go Genre Book Reports by Susan Ludwig.
Have you ever tried it before? No
What was the most positive aspect of this project? The student’s excitement.
What did you notice about the students working on this project? They were so interested and talked about it for days. They would be reading their books at every free moment in class.
How will you assess this project? I have a rubric giving possible points earned.
Will you do this project again? Absolutely.
Are there any changes you will make next time? No

Student Questions:

The following are the questions I asked the students to think about before podcasting:

  • What was your theme?
  • Tell me what you included.
  • What was your favorite part of this project?
  • What do you think you learned the most when you were working on this?
  • Do you like sharing your projects?
  • What would you tell other people who are thinking about doing this?

Students used my cell phone (standing near our courtyard to get reception) to podcast. We used gcast .com because the service is free and very easy to use. I dialed the phone number and entered my secret pin, then quickly handed the children the phone. They were instructed to begin talking at the sound of the beep and press the pound sign # when they were finished. Five out of six students did not know what the pound sign was. The next instruction was for them to choose whether they wanted to listen to themselves, publish it, or delete it and re-record themselves. The students were thrilled to hear themselves and are looking forward to sending their families to subscribe to them online.

Finally, I logged on to my gcast account so I could check the audio levels. Since this was a first attempt for the students, I decided against heavy editing but did export the file as an MP3. I did use Audacity 1.2.6  to cut out the comical moment when each of them looked at me and said, “Where’s the pound sign?” Then I saved the files again as MP3’s and have loaded these to the school server for the parents convenience. The podcasts can be saved at gcast, uploaded to iTunes, or even stored on Google’s gmail site.

I hope you enjoy our initial efforts. They are not perfect. The important thing is to just get started and TRY. We’ll get better with practice. We’ll read the journal articles on podcasting, view the clips on SLJ’s podcast site, and read the new book Podcasting and iPods at School or  Active Learning Through Drama, Podcasting, and Puppetry by school library media specialist Kristin Fontichario.


  1. thanks so much for sharing these simple looking step-by-step directions