To celebrate the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children movie release, we decided to hold a premier party in our school library. We made tickets and asked ELA teachers to give them to students of their choosing. Tickets allowed students to watch the movie trailer, have a snack, pose for an old-timey style photo, and enter to win a $25 movie gift card. Most of the students who came had read the book, but those who hadn’t still enjoyed the party. Who doesn’t want to go to the library and eat cookies and watch movie trailers?
We wanted to include an educational element; so we decided to record audio for a podcast. We’ve been working on a little school library podcast program since spring, and it’s definitely been slow going. We have four completed podcasts with three of them on iTunes. They are super amateur style and extremely short, because it turns out recording and editing podcasts can be time consuming and difficult for middle schoolers and their school librarians. On average, it takes students about 45 minutes to get about a minute of usable audio.
Why we podcast in the school library
- Podcasts offer students another option for self-expression. Not every format appeals to all students equally; even if only a handful of students continue to podcast, maybe we’ve helped a few kids find their “thing.”
Podcasts help students develop conversation skills. Students have gone from very scripted conversations to more relaxed exchanges revolving around their own ideas and opinions.
Podcasts motivate students and staff to learn about digital recording and editing. With students having to troubleshoot, experiment, and research to find solutions for podcast issues, this process ties right in with problem-based learning.
Podcasts provide an opportunity for teaching important copyright laws and the limits of Fair Use.
“You probably shouldn’t use that Halsey song as an intro and claim Fair Use. Let me teach you why,” said the librarian to a student.
A few things we’ve learned
We use an iPad for the entire recording/editing process, because we don’t have a computer or laptop we can dedicate to podcasting. Since we are iPad exclusive, we bought an iPad compatible Apogee table top mic along with a wireless mic set for student use.
Garage band is our go-to for recording and editing. We also tried Hokusai Audio Editor and Ferrite Recording Studio, but Garage Band seemed to be the easiest. It’s important to mention we’d probably go for Audacity if we were computer based.
Some students are born ready to record, and some may need a little nudge, but most of our middle schoolers need a big push. We didn’t want to be over-involved in their experience, but students new to the process may benefit from a teacher/librarian guiding the conversation, helping students discover and form opinions.
In our most recent podcast, students discuss their feelings about books becoming movies. Opinions vary, but a few are upset about the movie changing some aspects of specific characters. It’s short, but sweet, and our podcast, DIY LabCast, is available on iTunes. Our goal is to start producing longer podcasts, about 20 minutes, and releasing them on a regular schedule.
Author: Mica Johnson
I’m a school librarian at Farragut Middle. I like the lib to be loud, messy, and full of student activity. I love tech stuff as much as I love books, and I’m part of an awesome rotating maker space.