Thursday, November 20, 2008

Historic Interview

The historic interview project is a powerful way for students to connect to both history as well as to friends and family. It gives them a reason to talk meaningfully with a grandparent, uncle, or sister about events with both personal and historic significance.

Here's an example:

A student interviews his father about politics in India and New Jersey.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Audio Theater--I've Been Waiting for You

Here are student samples from the audio play "I've Been Waiting for You"

Audio Editing Tutorial--Oh My Darling

Here's an example of the finished tutorial, "Oh My Darling"

Medi Reviews

Here are examples of student-created media reviews.

Audio Tour

The audio tour project was developed as an authentic activity for podcasting as well as an engaging way to teach students the fundamentals of research.

Students choose a public place that has meaning to them and create an audio tour for it. They combine their personal interests and experiences with historical information and interviews with other people who had experience with or insight into the place.

This an example from an interdisciplinary project on the physics of baseball audio tour.
Here are excerpts from students' tours. 


Fanfiction is an phenomenon where fans of movies, video games, TV shows, comics create original material based on the characters and events of the entertainment that they are fans of.

Teaching with fanfiction is extremely helpful because it gives students familiar material to unleash their creativity. Student can create prequels, sequels, missing scenes, alternate universes, and retell stories from other characters' perspectives.

Just go to to see the variety of material that fans (many of them kids) are writing and reading about, or check out my growing collection of fanfiction links--sites of and about fanfiction.

Below is a fanfiction scene (created by a student and technically tweaked by me) in which the world of Rocky and Star Wars collide.

Bonus DVD

In this activity, students create a 'bonus' audio track for a movie. They simply instruct the listener where to cue the movie on a DVD player and then start the audio simultaneously. The student's commentary can be informational about the movie's background, about the plot, or historical significance of the scene. You can have students do 'color commentary' or 'play by play'. Here are two examples.

This one is from donnab and focuses on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

This one is from doodahpod and focuses on Mean Girls. There is an interesting use of the left/right stereo that lets a listener control the sound from the movie clip and from the commentary.

Friday, November 14, 2008

NJASL Conference

I had a great time presenting at NJASL. Contact me if you need extra handouts from the presentation.


Monday, October 13, 2008

NJAET Conference

I'm giving a presentation on Tuesday October 14 at the New Jersey Association of Educational Technology--21 Projects for Student Podcasters. The ideas are generated from this course. If you attended the presentation and have any questions, please post them here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reader Theater--The Sequel

This unit is an extension of Reader's Theater activities. Reader's Theater is a popular instructional approach in which students read a scripted version of a book or story. Readers Theater is characterized by minimal props, costumes, or sets; reading as opposed to memorizing; an inclusive approach to student participation. Readers Theater motivates students for engaging in texts and repeated readings, and improves fluency and comprehension. By adding creative elements of digital audio, you can simultaneously enhance the fluency and comprehension of the students as well as introduce new creative and meaning-making skills. This is an audio play based on a Grimm Tale, The Ungrateful Son.

Ideally, students will get a prose version of the story and then a script in made (typically with the narrator's part divided among many students).

If you want to do this or another Reader's Theater project, here are 5 pieces of music that can work well as background. Letting students vote on a musical selection for the class or choose one for group or individual productions can be a very rewarding experience. It can open up discussions on tone and atmosphere.

The Ungrateful Son—Prose Version
This is the prose version that was used to create the performance script.

A husband and wife were once sitting by the door of their house, and they had a roasted chicken set before them, and were about to eat it together. The husband said, “Mmm. This chicken looks good,” and the wife replied, “Yes, it certainly does.” Soon they heard the sound of a person whistling. The husband said, “Here comes my father down the road, look through the window and see him, let’s hide this chicken in the closet.” There was then the sound of the father’s footsteps and a knock at the door. The father came in and took a drink. The father said, “Thanks for the water. See you soon.” The Father left. The son went to get the roasted chicken from the closet. When he grabbed it, it turned into a giant frog that jumped onto the man’s face. The frog made a loud “RIBBIT.”
The Husband was angry, “What happened to my chicken? What is this frog doing on my face?” The frog made another ribbit sound. The frog stayed on the man’s face forever. If any one wanted to take it off, it looked venomously at the person, as if it would jump on his or her face. No one dared to touch it. When the man walked down the street a neighbor said, “Oh boy, that frog looks pretty mean. I don’t want him on my face. Keep away from me!” And the ungrateful son was forced to feed the frog every day.

The Ungrateful Son—Performance Script

Roles: 12 Narrators, Husband, Wife, Neighbor, Father

Narrator 1: A man and his wife were once sitting by the door of their house.

Narrator 2: And they had a roasted chicken set before them, and were about to eat it together.

Husband: Mmm. This chicken looks good.

Wife: Yes, it certainly does.

[Sound effect: whistling]

Husband: Here comes my father down the road. Look through the window and see him. Let’s hide this chicken in the closet.

[Sound effects: footsteps and knocking at door]

Narrator 3: The father came in and took a drink.

Father: Thanks for the water. See you soon.

Narrator 4: The father left.

Narrator 5: The son went to get the roasted chicken from the closet.

Narrator 6: When he grabbed it, it turned into a giant frog…

Narrator 7: …that jumped on the man’s face.

[Sound effect: frog ribbit]

Husband: What happened to my chicken? What is this frog

(Angry) doing on my face?

[Sound effect: frog ribbit]

Narrator 8: The frog stayed on the man’s face forever.

Narrator 9: If any one wanted to take it off, it looked venomously at the person, as if it would jump 
on his or her face.

Narrator 10: No one dared to touch it.

Narrator 11: When the man walked down the street a neighbor said,

Neighbor: Oh boy, that frog looks pretty mean. I don’t want him on my face. Keep away from me!

Narrator 12: And the ungrateful son was forced to feed the frog every day.

Music Sample Pack for Readers Theater--music and sound effects

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Poetry Walk Remix--City

In the project "Poetry Walk (or Run) Remix" kids remix music and poetry to help walkers or runners enjoy their environment. It is based on the most downloaded podcast on iTunes, Podrunner. Kids have to select, record, and share lines of poetry about cities and nature. They then have to edit and remix these spoken lines with music (from ccmixter). It gives kids an authentic and engaging activity that helps them slow down and appreciate poetry, music, and their environment. Below is an audio sample.

Here’s an example of the finished product of the Poetry Walk Remix Project.

Poetry Lines Used:

I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the
world’s food and clothes. (“I am the People, the Mob” by Carl Sandburg)

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning. (“Chicago” by Carl Sandburg)

Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
and under his ribs the heart of the people (“Chicago” by Carl Sandburg)

This is the city and I am one of the citizens,
Whatever interests the rest interests me, politics, wars, markets, newspapers, schools. (“Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman)

Music Used:

gmz Otra_Vez_(sight_mix)

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License

See also Poetry Walk Remix-- Nature

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Historic Interview

For this project students interviewed someone they knew about experiences during an interesting time period or place or during an important or historic event.

This interviewee doesn't have to have been directly involved in an historic even. His or her indirect experiences--as a bystander or witness--can be just as powerful. Also, it doesn't have to be a single event. For example, living in the south during segregation or growing up on a farm can be extremely powerful interviews.

This example is a son's interview of his father about his father's political experiences in India and the United States. It was part of last semester's Podcourse (forgot to post it here), and I'm using it as an example for this semester's students.

Monday, February 18, 2008

More on Memoirs

Another good memoir here. (see Memoir Posting for more).

I've been experimenting with different ways to comment on the students' audio work. I've interjected my comments in the media reviews, but that seemed a little disruptive to the flow of their work. I'm going to stick with adding comments at the beginning and and of their work, both as a feature at this site as well as for most feedback for them.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Cinna the Audio Play

This project allows you to create an original audio drama of a scene from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. You can create an original audio interpretation of the scene and distribute it in a legal and ethical way on the Internet. The project uses text from the public domain, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, and music and sound effects with Creative Commons licenses.

I have included directions, the text of the scene, and links to audio files for music and sound effects. There are four parts to this project--the 1) The Overview, 2) The Scene, 3) The Production and 4) The Resources.

1) The Overview

For this project you will create an audio play from a scene from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. You must enact all of the voices and add music and sound effects. If you are working alone, you should decide how many Citizens there will be and create unique voices for each one. If you are working in a group, you can edit and increase the number of Citizens to accommodate your group.

At the end of the post is an example of sample of a student project.

2)The Scene

Read the following scene from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

It is the one that you will be turning into an audio play. Caesar has just been assassinated and the Roman citizens are rioting. There are very few stage directions in this scene. You must figure out and then act out in audio what is happening.

From Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 3

Enter CINNA the poet

I dreamt to-night that I did feast with Caesar,
And things unlucky charge my fantasy:
I have no will to wander forth of doors,
Yet something leads me forth.

Enter 8-12 Citizens (only 4 have speaking parts)

First Citizen
What is your name?

Second Citizen
Whither are you going?

Third Citizen
Where do you dwell?

Fourth Citizen
Are you a married man or a bachelor?

Second Citizen
Answer every man directly.

First Citizen
Ay, and briefly.

Fourth Citizen
Ay, and wisely.

Third Citizen
Ay, and truly, you were best.

What is my name? Whither am I going? Where do I
dwell? Am I a married man or a bachelor? Then, to
answer every man directly and briefly, wisely and
truly: wisely I say, I am a bachelor.

Second Citizen
That's as much as to say, they are fools that marry:
you'll bear me a bang for that, I fear. Proceed; directly.

Directly, I am going to Caesar's funeral.

First Citizen
As a friend or an enemy?

As a friend.

Second Citizen
That matter is answered directly.

Fourth Citizen
For your dwelling,--briefly.

Briefly, I dwell by the Capitol.

Third Citizen
Your name, sir, truly.

Truly, my name is Cinna.

First Citizen
Tear him to pieces; he's a conspirator.

I am Cinna the poet, I am Cinna the poet.

Fourth Citizen
Tear him for his bad verses, tear him for his bad verses.

I am not Cinna the conspirator.

Fourth Citizen
It is no matter, his name's Cinna; pluck but his
name out of his heart, and turn him going.

Third Citizen
Tear him, tear him! Come, brands ho! fire-brands:
to Brutus', to Cassius'; burn all: some to Decius'
house, and some to Caasca's; some to Ligarius': away, go!


3) The Production

To produce the audio play you will need to do the following steps. You need to:

a) ENACT THE PARTS--Create unique voices for each of the five characters with speaking parts (Cinna, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, and Fourth Citizen). Speak all of the lines with credibility and emotion. The “voice” you use for each character should be consistent for that character throughout the scene.

  • How will you make each character sound unique?
  • How will you change their voices?
  • How will you remember what voice goes with what character?
  • How can the audio editing software help with this part?

b) ADD BACKGROUND MUSIC--Add some background music and put it where it’s appropriate (the whole scene does not need it).

  • Will it be fast or slow? Modern or classic?
  • Will the music stay the same or change over time? When will the volume be low? When will it be loud? You decide.

c) ADD SOUND EFFECTS--Add sound effects (including “sounds” of citizens without speaking parts in the scene).

  • What kind of street is it? Noisy?
  • Quiet? What kinds of sounds can give the feeling of quiet?

d) CREATE A SINGLE FILE--Create a single mp3 file with all of these elements.

4) The Resources

If you want to search yourself for sounds, you should only use audio from the sites Creative Commons Mixter for music and the Free Sounds Project for sound effects. The audio from these sites are on sliding scales of copyright. The have unique licenses that allow you to use and distribute their work that are broader than standard copyright law.
At the end of your show you MUST briefly give credit to the source of your music and sound effect. Mention the name of each audio file, the creator, and the site where you got it.
I have included a zipped file with the 6 sound files below. Download them, listen to them, and begin creating your audio play.

Background Music

You can browse yourself and use music from the Creative Commons Mixter (
Sound Effects
You can search yourself and use sound effects from the Free Sound Project or use one of these audio files. I have downloaded them and put them in the accompanying zipped folder.