Podcasting from the Parade

HEY!!! My hero David Warlick commented on my blog!!! Even though it is ranked at the bottom of Technorati…I am honored! If you don’t know who that is- you should- Google him (it’s now a word in the dictionary- a verb!) and go to his excellent blog 2CentsWorth.

The annual 4th of July parade in North Port, FL is definitely NOT the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade…but it is a slice of Americana too often missing in bigger cities. Our Band (Actually, we are a Drum and Bugle Corps- but that is a subject for another post) has been participating in this mid-summer extravaganza ever since the school opened in 2001 (my principal so thoughtfully volunteered the group even before it existed…yep, that’s another post…)

What made this year’s parade different was the use of technology. Recently, I made a surveymonkey survey and asked my kids how they prefer to communicate. Not really surprising- their preferred method of communication was a website that they could check for information followed closely by email notification (text message on their phone was a distant third and snail mail only got 2 votes- hmmmm…) I decided that I would not make a single phone call or send a single postcard out to remind my students about the event. To my (not) surprise we had the best attendance we have ever had at the event and the website and forum that I set up for the communication was absolutely abuzz with conversation!

I had also recently learned about podcasting and thought it would be great fun to podcast from the parade practice and the parade itself. I interviewed kids and just talked to them (my kids love to talk and were thrilled to be in a podcast- they thought it was very cool!). What happened was a very informal, personal connection between director and student and student to student that happens every day but is never captured for others to witness and share. I got comments from my more tech savvy parents like “it was so amazing to hear you just talking to kids and to hear how much they love the organization”.

I have to tell you that this simple technological exercise that I learned in a workshop over the summer provided one of the most memorable educational experiences I have had in my career. Not that the product itself is worthy of archiving for future generations- but the look of excitement and respect in my students’ eyes when the promised pictures and podcast were put up within an hour of the event’s end (it was that easy) really moved me.

I plan to podcast a lot more both formally and informally. I see many applications for checking mastery of concepts introduced in class and for re-teaching and scaffolding for those students who need more time than we have in class.

If you would like to listen to this wonder of digital media- be my guest and please leave a comment so that I can know if I’m going in the right direction with this. Go to http://web.mac.com/owenbradley

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