My seventh grade library students and I are making podcasts together. As a teacher, it’s been a practice of letting go. I’m not the worst audio producer in the room with my students, but I’m also not the best. In this project, we are all teachers and learners.
The kids have recorded incredible interviews with parents and siblings, mentors and teachers. Now they are cleaning them up using Ocenaudio (at least the ones that are following my lead; some are using Audacity or Adobe). Today I wanted to show students a nine minute clip from a longer YouTube tutorial that explains how to play with settings to improve sound quality. Having already spent 10 of our precious weekly 45 minutes giving instructions, it suddenly seemed ridiculous to spend even more class time watching the video together as I had planned. However, I knew they would eventually have to watch the video to move on with their project.
Earlier this year I wrote about asking my seventh grade students to interview family members, asking them what they thought the news was supposed to do. I described how a novice like me was able to figure out how to weave separate interviews together into an audio montage with several student and parent voices. I also predicted that if I decided to teach students how to edit and design their own podcasts, there would most likely be students in the room who could teach me a thing or two about audio production.
I tried something new with my seventh graders in library class and I want to share it with you.
I imagine that many young people (though not all) have different expectations of journalists than most adults do. I don’t blame them. I rarely thought about the news as a tween or teen. I was fairly self-centered and more interested in my friend group. If students today feel like I did then, are they wondering what the big deal is when I try to arm them with strategies to spot fake news? Do young people know why the grownups are so bent out of shape about fake news? If students don’t interact much with the real news, if they don’t appreciate what the real news is supposed to do, then why should they worry about fake news?
I thought it couldn’t hurt if students asked their parents what they thought of the news. Maybe a conversation with an authority at home would put future news literacy lessons in context. I also like any kind of assignment that gets kids interacting with their parents. So I asked my students to record an interview with a parent or someone from a different generation, asking for opinions about the news media.