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Interview with Benjamin Franklin

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Keywords: Podcasting, history, English, Technology, Google Classroom
Subject(s): Art, Civics, Social Studies, Social Skills, Technology, Podcasting, History, Music, English/Language Arts
Grades 7 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Riverview School, East Sandwich, MA
Planned By: Megen Krohn
Original Author: Megen Krohn, East Sandwich
Technology Rich ELA / History Lesson Plan
Podcasts on Google Classroom

Context: This unit is based around the creation of podcasts that will then be posted on to an established Google Classroom account. Once posted, students will be able to listen to each other’s podcasts and post comments / questions in response. This social media style of feedback means that students can access their classmates work outside of class time and they can digitally engage with school work, provide feedback and ask questions anytime, anywhere. As a result, class time can be spent in more creative, deeper ways. Because the process of actually listening to student work can be done outside of class, in-class instructional time can be used for more open ended questions and the exploration of big ideas. Student will also have had time to process their classmate’s work and the project in general and will be more prepared to contribute to the in-class discussions thoughtfully.

The content of the podcasts can be tailored to the subject being taught as well as the interests and abilities of the students. Examples of podcasts projects include a book review, a “This American Life” or “The Moth” style short story, an interview (perhaps with a local expert or a roleplaying interview with an historical figure), a newscast, an informational presentation on any subject, etc. Students will include intro/ outro music and sound effects as appropriate.

For the purposes of this lesson plan, the assignment will be that students are to use an iPad to create a podcast with a partner in which they interview an historical person who played a role in the American Revolution. Again, for the purposes of this lesson plan, the pair of students are creating an interview with Benjamin Franklin. One student will play the role of the interviewer, and one person will assume the character of Benjamin Franklin.

Prior to the recording of the Ben Franklin interview, students will have researched Ben Franklin and prepared a script. The will also have spent time practicing with the Garageband (or Audacity) software if necessary. They will spend 1-2 class periods actually recording the interview. Once this is complete, students will spend another class period (or two) editing their project and adding music/ sound effects as appropriate. Once the sound recording is finished, students will convert their project to an MP3 and post it online. Students will then access the Google Classroom website outside of class time (for homework) and they will be responsible for listening to their classmate’s projects and giving respectful feedback in the form of comments on the site.

Students will use Garageband to record a mock interview where one of them plays Benjamin Franklin, and one plays the role of the interviewer. The questions and responses will be based on historical facts and extrapolations based on historical evidence.
Students will edit their podcast and add music / sound effects as appropriate
Students will convert their Garageband project to an MP3
Students will post their project on to the Google Classroom website
Students will review their classmates work and provide appropriate, respectful feedback in the form of comments

Time / Materials:
This podcasting unit can be completed in about two weeks assuming one hour of class time each day.

Access to the internet & research materials
An Established Google Classroom site Google Classroom
Garage Band (or Audacity)
ipad, chromebook, or other computer for each pair of students (if you have 20 students, you need 10 iPads)

Standards: (NETS-S & Common Core)
Creativity and Innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
create original works as a means of personal or group expression
Communication and Collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media

Digital Citizenship: Students understand human, cultureal, and societal issues related to technology and practice leagal and ethical behavior
exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity

Procedure: (The first day of recording)
Students will spread out in the classroom with their partner and their iPad
Prior to recording, students will do a practice run-through of their script, assuming any voice or diction they intend to use during the actual recording. Students should be given the greatest degree of privacy that is reasonable (based on their ability to stay on task / classroom space etc.) to minimize their level of self-consciousness during the recording process
Students will record their scripted interview. Students may need multiple takes to get their recording right.
Tip: Encourage students to keep recording even if they make a mistake (rather than saying “Oh no I made a mistake!” and stopping the recording) and when they have a finished recording, they can go back and re-record just the sections they stumbled on, and edit the multiple takes together later on.
Students should try to end the class with all the script recorded (even if it is in pieces or multiple takes)
The next class will be spent editing the interview together, adding intro/ outro music and sound effects as time allows.

The use of 1:1 technology in the creation of a podcast ensures a high degree of differentiation as each student can work at his or her own pace, and the final products can vary greatly in length, depth and “extras” (like sound effects, music, the inclusion of interview segments etc.)
Posting projects online gives students access to them 24/7 meaning they can listen, re-listen, pause, and generally absorb each project in their own time.
The comment - posting style of feedback allows students to consider their responses and edit them before posting (as opposed to being put ‘on the spot’ in class and asked to respond to a classmate’s work immediately. The will also enable shy students to more comfortably participate.
Multiple learning styles targeted, audio, visual, kinetic
The use of technology
Having the projects posted on the classroom site allows students to go back and review the projects as a study tool or way to refresh their memory around key topics / ideas

Constant informal assessment based on student engagement and participation
Formal assessment based on finished podcast (a rubric with clear expectations can be created and distributed to students ahead of time with criteria like the length of the podcast, number of interview questions, topics covered in the questions, inclusion of music and sound effects etc.)
Formal assessment based on the online critique process and the student’s ability to review their classmates work and post appropriate comments and questions in response. (The use of the classroom website ensures a record is kept of all responses.)

The students will engage in a discussion board / social media -style dialogue around the merits of the podcast project and the use of google classroom. The discussion (from the front page of the Google Classroom website) will be continued and expanded on in class. In class, students can debate the validity of their classmates answers. (Is that what Ben Franklin really would have said? What evidence do we have that his (the student’s caricature of him) response was plausible or what evidence do we have that his response was not plausible?

The finished MP3’s can be posted to the school’s website or otherwise shared with parents / the community if desired.

See lesson plan for accommodations, assessment and closure.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Do an mock interview with any historical figure, scientist, or politician to explore a variety of topics. You might also choose to do an interview with a local expert or a skype interview with a less-local expert on any topic the class may be studying.
Share Podcasts with other classroom and/or other schools.
Post Podcasts online to reach and get feedback from a global audience.
Materials: Digital Voice Recorders, Microphones, Podcasting