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Weekly Current Events Podcasts

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Keywords: Journalism, Current events
Subject(s): Technology, Journalism, Podcasting
Grades 9 through 12
School: Marian High School, Omaha, NE
Planned By: Marsha Kalkowski
Original Author: Marsha Kalkowski, Omaha
As a beginning journalism student assignment, student pairs create a podcast of weekly current events. Following a script/basic storyboard, students spend the first part of the week, outside of regular class meeting time, gathering news and choosing their sources. They also spend time outside of class experimenting with sound effects and choosing snips-its of appropriate music for this educational experience.

By Thursday morning the script is approved by the classroom teacher and recording can begin. Sources are brought to the journalism lab for live interviews and recording, or the dedicated laptop and microphone are taken to the source.

The final product is recorded and edited by the first bell on Friday morning so that the project can be broadcast on the public address system. The weekly shows are also re-broadcast during the class period for critique and commentary.

In advance of the project, students presented their plan to the administration to receive permission to spend five minutes of every Friday's activity or homeroom period on their weekly news show.

Students are evaluated a bit more critically as the year progresses and they hear the feedback and public response to each week's program. A rubric is distributed with details such as:
at least five distinct voices heard and identified = A
only one distinct voice (a student reporter) heard and identified = F

at least three appropriate in content and quality sound effects are heard = A
no sound effects are present, the show is just voices = F

at least five story ideas are presented, including school news, school sports, school activities, community news and entertainment = A
fewer than three story ideas are presented without prior approval for a specialized content program = F

With proper equipment, the audio podcast project could be easily adapted to a video podcast project.

The M Beat Podcast program will go forward but with the assistance of the grants such as these, the program will be so much more professional and educational. We operate on a tiny budget now and can keep it going with the equipment we have. We'd just truly relish the opportunity to give students a broader perspective and experience with more professional equipment. Thanks so much for this opportunity.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Although we are immediately cross curricular in that we intend to cover newsworthy experiences and events in all areas of the school, there is even more potential. Once we get a firm grasp of the technologies, the journalism students will offer their photography and broadcast services to all teachers in all curricular areas. The could be asked to record special science lab experiments or guest speakers or classroom presentations. They could be asked to archive the school's history and even a weekly address by the Head of School. The potential is limitless
As a follow-up to the weekly podcasts, audiences will be encouraged to respond via email to the podcast directors. This immediate feedback will help improve the quality of the offerings. We will offer special promotions and prizes (such as lunch line passes or honored parking spots for the day for students or school attire for alumnae or future students) to our listeners who provide feedback. Photos taken but not published will be offered as a fundraiser for future podcast programs. Additionally, students with marketable podcasting/broadcasting skills will be encouraged to offer their services to the broader community. We envision student freelancers adding to their portfolios with public service announcements and additional web content almost immediately.
Links: Link to M-Beat Podcast Program
Materials: Podcasting, Video Editing, xD Memory Cards, Digital Voice Recorders, Flash/USB Drives, Batteries