Monday, March 30, 2015

Podcast Book Reviews

My students have been making recordings for a few years now. In my Spanish classes, I use recordings for voice assessments. I recently heard of an example of students recording book reviews and putting QR codes for those recordings on books in the library for others to access. This semester I have a new technology class and decided to try this out!

First my students chose a book from a list I gave them--mostly young adult fiction. All of the books had some form of technology in them, and these books have been part of the curriculum in my computer classes for several years. Students read the book and completed the Accelerated Reader quiz, aligning with my school's reading goals. 

I wanted all of the reviews to be similar in form and length, so I gave students a planning sheet to complete and told them their recordings had to be less than one minute. (No one is going to stand in the library and listen to a 5 minute recording. These had to be short and to the point!) I approved their planning sheets, which became the recording script.

After approval of their scripts, they made their recordings. I talk about how students can make recordings in this blog post.

My students uploaded their recording files to Google Classroom, the LMS I am using this year. (One change for next quarter will be requiring students to name their podcast files the title of the book they read!) From there I had to get the recordings to a podcast host site. I used SoundCloud. This was new for me. I had never used SoundCloud or any podcast site. SoundCloud was easy to use and now all of these podcasts are in one place. The technical side is that I had to download the sounds from Google Drive to my computer, then upload (in this case just drag) to SoundCloud. It sounds a little cumbersome but actually went very quickly. I wanted all of the podcasts in one place so I really did have to do this part myself, and with my account. 

At SoundCloud, I titled each recording the name of the book, and edited the privacy settings. I copied the link from each podcast and pasted it in the comment of the assignment in Google Classroom so each student had his or her link, and then the students created their QR codes

Instead of putting the QR codes directly on the books, the librarian and I decided small posters would be better. Students used this template to make the poster, which I then printed for the library.

Of course I am a tech geek and think that QR codes are fun in and of themselves. This was one of the most engaging projects that I have ever done. Students didn't necessarily like hearing their voices on the recordings, but enjoyed choosing a book, and the final outcome of their QR posters. We will be repeating this project next quarter. I don't plan to change anything about it and it should move along more easily now that we've all worked through it the first time!

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