Tie And Jeans

Isn’t there someone who cares?

I wrote out a “PowerPoint to Podcast” guide for the middle school today, focusing on the short walk between having students present a PP in class and having a podcast to share with the whole world. At the end, I tried to address the inevitable whys. What about a podcast could possibly be worth the investment of another class period? Why not just have students just stand up in front of the class and be done?

I’m new at the school, so I try to watch my tone. They’re easy to share, I said, with parents or grades above and below. They’re durable – it’s a lot easier to point back to existing links and have next years class take the same project further. They’re part of a digital portfolio, instead of a rough memory and some hasty rubric notes.

What I skirted around is the notion of “who would want to listen to my class’ podcasts about the atmosphere?” For which the real answer is, “I don’t know. But if you can’t think of some audience for them, why are you doing it?” We expect students in our class to be “attentive and respectful” for projects and presentations because we make it part of their own assessment (and build it into the whole power imbalance/threat of force that squicks me out about middle school). But if you take that same project, put it out before the world and can’t think of any other people who might possibly want to listen to it, then there’s a problem with your assignment. Finding that audience can be tough (which is where all those social media tools that may or may not be blocked this week come in to play), but there has to be an audience. Other students at grade level, upper school students to critique and respond, a partner class in a different area working on their local version of the same issue.

I also didn’t say that work that lives, dies, and disappears inside your classroom deprives everyone involved of something wonderful. I see amazing things happen inside 5th grade classrooms that barely get noticed down the hall. I know many of these folk are planning to retire from this school, but for any educators under 40, it seems essential that you have your own digital portfolio that shows off what your classroom is *actually like,* without relying on the (possibly intermittent) evaluation of your division heads.

I’m still trying to figure out how long I have to be at the school before I can bring out the John the Baptist persona.


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