I’ve been evaluating student podcasts this weekend and it really is joyful listening to their voices.
This group of grade 12 students were given the task of researching the author and a topic in the book that they chose. In lessons, we had talked about the usual musical intro, the overall summary in the opening and the need to write for the ear instead of the eye. One student, Chloe, chose Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and her topic was the “otherness, outsider, or misfit” of the Southern Gothic. As a class, we had also studied podcasts, sampled them, and talked about the necessity for creating an immersive auditory experience for an audience, but Chloe did this and so much more.
Half way into the podcast, her script read:
Between us are two steaming plates of roast dinner, a coffee, a beer, and a cigarette in an ashtray. I point out to you the man behind the counter, he’s watching his customers closely and thumbing his nose. We think of him as an “other”, apart, a misfit. An icon of his repressed identity. We go back to our dinner, and a server brings us cherry pie. Now, I point out the window. I’m trying to explain something to you, trying to make my case. Do you see it out there? It is the American South, great “defeated” nation, simmering with unspilled rage. I tell you, finally: the South is the freak of America. Can’t you see it?
At this point, I realized that she was not only taking me into an immersive experience, but she was also taking me into the book creating the mood of the Southern Gothic as I was listening. The research, the complex thinking, the interconnectedness of texts and information, the building of another world – it was all there, in six minutes of creative genius.
I’ll admit that not all of them contained such creativity and insights, but each student was able to be successful and I was able to evaluate all aspects of the curriculum without having them present synchronously to an audience. And, one of the unique aspects of podcasting is that students have to listen to their own voice as editing before publishing. There is a creativity in using music and sound, in writing and selecting the atmosphere and genre of podcast, and importantly, there is this metacognitive aspect of listening to one’s own voice built into the process.
The iterative nature of podcasting keeps me thinking and contemplating more ways to listen to the voices of students.