How and Why to Use Podcasts in Your Classes

podcast

A podcast is a topic-specific digital stream of audio files (in some cases, video or PDF also) that can be downloaded to a computer or a wide variety of media devices. They are funny, entertaining, educational, often short, and rarely boring. They can cover news, current events, history, or pretty much anything the creator would like. When you subscribe, each new episode is automatically downloaded to your device, to be played at your convenience. You can play the entire stream or select an individual episode.

Create your own

If you’re creating your own podcast, all you need is a digital device, a microphone, an Internet connection, and a topic you’re passionate about. The two most popular sites for creating podcasts are Audacity (for PCs) and Garageband (for Macs and mobile devices). Once the podcast is completed, it is saved (typically) as an MP3 which can be played through any program that accepts that file type such as QuickTime, Windows Media, SoundCloud, and even Google Drive.

Here are popular ways to use podcasts in your lesson plans:

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Why and How Students Can Blog

bloggingBlogging is a popular tool used in education to not only practice writing, but reinforce collaboration, perspective taking, speaking/listening skills, and a lot more. It’s grown up from its pedestrian start as a journaling platform, where writers share daily activities and don’t stress over spelling and grammar. Look at these reasons why teachers incorporate blogging across all academic topics and lesson plans:

Collaboration

Students collaborate by commenting on the posts of others and/or co-writing a blog themed to a particular topic, taking turns posting articles.

Developing a profile

Blog profiles–often found at the top of the sidebar–summarize what the blog will address in just a few sentences. They must be pithy, concise, and clear. This is a great way for students to think through the purpose of their blog and share it in a way suited to the task, audience, and purpose. I am constantly reworking my own as I figure out a better way to communicate the gist of what I am doing.

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Categories: Blogging, Writing | 2 Comments

169 Tech Tip #60-How to Add Shortcuts to the Desktop

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip #60–How to Add Shortcuts to the Desktop

Category: CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

Sub-category: PCs, Chromebooks

Q: How do I create a shortcut on my desktop so I can find programs easier?

A: On PCs, there are two ways to do that

  1. click the icon on the start button and drag and drop it to the desktop, OR
  2. right click the icon on ‘all programs’ (click start button; select ‘all programs’) and select ‘send to’, then ‘desktop (create shortcut)’

This is a great tool for students so they can easily access the programs they use most often. If students are in fourth grade or up, let them do this themselves. They’ll feel empowered and they’ll add shortcuts you didn’t consider.

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10 Websites + 4 Apps that Make Geography Fun

geographyOne of the hardest challenges for teachers is how to engage students in core subjects such as geography. It’s about mountains and rocks and valleys that haven’t changed for thousands of years. Why is that interesting? If you aren’t a geography buff, you’re probably nodding. You know what I mean. But watch how quickly the fourteen resources  below morph geography from dusty to dynamic:

2-minute Geology

2-minute Geology is a collection of two-minute videos that address the geology of locations around the world. The presenter is clever, the taping professional, and the experience mesmerizing as students are immersed in the importance of geology around the world–in just two minutes.

Continents Explained

Continents Explained is a four-minute humorous video that discusses the difficulty of defining continents on our planet (with a brief cameo from a Minecraft-like character). I came away scratching my head, wondering how the heck the experts ended up with the seven continents we all accept rather than four–or twelve. The video is engaging, energizing, and informative. This is a must for any discussion on continents.

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Categories: Games/Simulations, Geography, Science | Leave a comment

Subscriber Special: January

Every month, subscribers to our newsletter get a free/discounted resource to help their tech teaching.sale

January:

Check out our freebies!

Check out discounted discontinued items!

 

Categories: AATT Materials, Freebies/Discounts, Subscriber special | Leave a comment

169 Tech Tip #15–Save Early Save Often

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to today’s tech-infused education.

Today’s tip #15–Save Early Save Often

Category: CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

Sub-category: Keyboarding, Problem-solving

Q:  My computer crashes often. How do I keep from losing my work unexpectedly?

A:  Saving is easier than you think. I know–you think it is easy, so what’s the deal? Have you ever lost your work because… it just disappeared–maybe a power surge, maybe you pressed the wrong button. Who knows, but hours of work evaporated. Encourage students to make it a habit to save every ten minutes.

Here’s what you do:

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Categories: Classroom management, Keyboarding, Problem solving | Tags: | 3 Comments

Did You Miss These Posts Over the Holidays?

ideasHere are four articles to get you ready for the demands of a new school year:

  1. End-of-year Tech Tips: Update Your Online Presence
  2. End-of-Year Tips: Image and Backup Digital Devices
  3. End of Year Tips: 22 Steps to a Speedier Computer
  4. How to Teach with Videos

Try them out–post a comment if you need help. I’ll be here.

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Categories: Blogging, Teacher resources, Videos | Tags: | Leave a comment

How Google Docs Improves Writing

google docsGoogle Docs is a free word processing program that does 99% of everything a student will ever need to do when writing. What isn’t included as part of the Google Docs program tool can be augmented with mostly free third-party add-ons, extensions, and apps. It operates in the cloud so there’re no download foibles, pesky maintenance, or expensive yearly upgrades. The end result is a learning tool that is powerful, robust, scalable, and because it’s free, is the equitable solution to so many concerns over education’s digital divide.

It’s no surprise that Google Docs and its sister programs — Google Spreadsheets, Google Slideshows, Google Draw, and Google Forms — have taken education by storm, usually in a package like Google Apps for Education (GAFE) or Google Classroom. While it does have a moderate learning curve (no worse than MS Word), once traveled, teachers quickly adopt it as their own and find many reasons why this has become their favorite tool. Here are the top eleven reasons from the educators I talk to:

Always up

I’ve never had the experience of logging into Google Drive (where Google Docs live) and having it not open. On the other hand, I have often experienced that heart-stopping occurrence with MS Word when it suddenly won’t work or a Word file has become corrupted for no reason I can tell. Using Google Docs has probably added years to my life just in the lowered stress levels.

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Categories: Writing | Tags: | 2 Comments

New Year Brings Changes

I’ve noticed that the same people subscribe to both my weekly newsletter on Tech Tips and Websites. That means they get two emails a week in their email box from me, in what is probably already a cluttered, overcrowded bit of virtual real estate. That inspired me to make a change.

I’m going to merge the two lists and send one email a week that includes both a Weekly Tech Tip and a Weekly Website. No need to resubscribe though you may get a notification that you’ve been added to a list that will sound something like “Weekly Tech Tips and Websites”.  Here’s the new link:

tech tips

I’ll still have a separate newsletter for resource announcements. Here’s that link:

structured learning

Here’s to a wonderful, busy, productive, fulfilling new year!


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

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New from Kiddom

kiddomKiddom is a free standards-based platform designed to help teachers curate individual learning experiences. Its pages are visual and easy-to-understand, enabling teachers to quickly determine how students are doing and where remediation is needed–all without spending a lot of time analyzing data. Many of the details are linked, allowing you to dig deeper on any subject from a variety of pages rather than one specific spot.

I met them last year and continue to be amazed by their creativity (see my review here). Here’s their latest update:

Social Emotional Learning Rubrics Available

Great educators teach the whole child. That’s why in addition to supporting CASEL’s social emotional learning (SEL) competencies, we’re proud to announce we’ve now added SEL-aligned rubrics that can be added to any assignment (for grades 6-12). To start using these rubrics, be sure to add Social Emotional Learning as a subject in class settings.

The links below offer tips on how to best weave these SEL rubrics into your daily classroom practices.

 kiddom 1. Develop self-awareness with summative assessments.
2. Project self-management by adding goal setting and monitoring.
3. Support social awareness by providing reflection opportunities.
4. Promote relationship skills with class discussions or presentations.
5. Track responsible decision making by adhering to assignment deadlines.

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