Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Podcasting - An Exercise in Fluency and Voice

ImageChef Word Mosaic - ImageChef.com
My ELA class just finished recording a podcast of their writing using Audacity software. This blog is devoted to sharing that experience, the materials and the results of that project.

Materials

#1. Audacity. A free audio editing software, downloadable from this site: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
#2. A script My students wrote 'commercials' for a machine that they had invented, inspired by: thewritingfix.com.

Introduction to the project: http://www.scribd.com/doc/32494300/Explanatory-Writing-Assignment
Flow Chart: http://www.writingfix.com/PDFs/Chapter_Book_Worksheets/Homer_Price_Machine_GO.pdf
Transition Word List: http://www.writingfix.com/PDFs/Writing_Tools/List_of_transitions.pdf

#3. Headset/microphone
#4. Some audio background music (.mp3 files). I obtained several files at: http://freeplaymusic.com


The Project

Using mentor text "Homer Price" I read to my students about a donut making machine and how it churned out more than enough donuts. Using the text as inspiration, I asked students to brainstorm about creating a machine that takes something, and turns it into something else through several steps in a process.

Students then completed a flow chart of the steps that the machine goes through to create the item.

I then provided students with a chart of transition words and encouraged them to replace words like then, next and finally with transition words like additionally, subsequently and meanwhile.

To give their stories 'voice' I asked them to consider an infommercial such as the one for the sham wow. They were encouraged to introduce their product by asking a question and then continuing to tell what their product is, the product's name and to describe the steps through which their product accomplishes the task.

After rough drafts were written, I had the students peer edit through primarypad.com. See previous blog post on this process: http://yoursmarticles.blogspot.com/2009/05/collaborative-editing-through-etherpad.html

Once their paragraphs were written and edited, students were introduced to Audacity. They selected a music track (.mp3) file that they liked and uploaded it to Audacity. Next they read and recorded their stories about their machines.

Reflection

The voice that came alive in my student's writing was well worth the effort. Technology can be cumbersome, but for the first time I heard voice in some of my students that have struggled with stilted, choppy writing. Voice was not the only outcome, new levels of fluency (and attempts at fluency) appeared as students listened to their recorded voices, knowing what they wanted to sound like versus what they actually sounded like.

Results


All of the student podcasts and writing samples are uploaded here at this wikispace:

http://118machines.wikispaces.com
http://106machines.wikispaces.com