Lately, I have been thinking about my seniors during my last year that I taught in high school. A few weeks ago, a Facebook Friend posted that right after college she began her teaching career, excited and bubbly at a university. On the day of her post she wrote that she was now retiring and teaching her last class at that university. This started me to thinking about my seniors and some of the other students I worked with my last year before I retired.
My seniors worked on a project and I wonder if it is still on the school’s or library’s website. During that year, I had my students do a podcast on a book that they would have to read. I knew it was a difficult project, I mean it was about a book that they had to read. How cruel could I be? But I felt strongly that they could do it. They could choose their book to write about. I thought that would make it easier, a bit. So, I wrote up a description, a rubric and handed it to them. They looked at me like I had lost my mind, but I was ready for that. I was really excited about the project and they could hear my enthusiasm as I spoke about the project. I knew they would at least start it, and I hoped that they would enjoy it after we got started on it.
It took us several weeks and we went through many steps from finding out what a podcast was, what made up a podcast (those items that all podcasts summarizing books had), selecting a book they wanted to summarize, summarizing it, critiquing each other’s summary according to what they found out about what makes up a podcast, and then reading their summary on the library’s website. Along the way, they discovered how to write a book summary, and in small groups exchanged with each other for critiques and edits. The students also noticed that everything had to be expressed in a positive way. Otherwise it was your opinion, one student said, and it was not appropriate to give your opinion. The students began to enjoy this project and well before the midpoint, I was just a bystander just listening to them reading the research, teaching each other and critiquing each other’s work.
Then they recorded it. They had already discovered that podcasts were about 3 minutes in length so they each practiced reading their work first. They recorded their work, with the help of the IT professional at the school and then played it back. The look on the face of each student (only one student did not complete the project) as they heard themselves talking about their book sounding so official and knowledgeable was beyond expression. The work that they put in was worth it. Somehow, the principal heard about it and asked to have it put on the school’s website. I wonder if those podcasts, or book reviews that those seniors did are still there.