Gaw — I didn’t let them play

(Note: I am scattering some of our essay podcasts throughout this post)

I had such grand plans that I completely forgot my own mantra of “let them play” when it comes to trying out new technology. The result? I was scrambling, feeling frustrated, watching the clock roll down and building a larger headache as the day went on — literally.

Let me back up.

Yesterday, I showed my students how to use Garageband to create podcasts. The idea is for them to create a podcast version of the Persuasive Environmental Essay Project they had just completed. The essay was to be their script. Once the podcast was done, they were to go to a Voicethread that I have set up, and upload the audio file.

I also knew that we only had the Mac cart for the day, so I decided that we just did not have the time or luxury to “play” with Garageband. I am a big advocate of when you put a new tool into the hands of students, you need to give them ample time to experiment, play and get used to the tool. I didn’t do that, to my regret. Some students played anyway, wasting precious time making loops of little yells and sound effects. Others didn’t quite understand how to remove tracks that you didn’t like, and start over at the beginning of the track (why doesn’t Gband do that automatically? I mean, come on). So, their audio has stretches of silence at the start. And so on.

Which isn’t to say that a lot didn’t get done. Many of my students in the four classes did the tasks I gave them: create a podcast and upload it into our Voicethread. But I need to catch up with a few students in the next week and see if I can help them finish up what they started.

Even with my growing headache, though, I could tell the podcasting idea was successful on other levels. Many of them were making revisions on their essays after reading it for the podcast. This connection between reading, listening and revision is something I am very interested in. (note to self: don’t forget it). The essays are pretty powerful, and meaningful, and hearing students read their own essays gives the topics a further punch.

Today, the media projects are due, and I am already seeing some fantastic work in multimedia expression, and I wonder what else will be coming into the classroom. This partnership of essay writing, multimedia composition, and podcasting/publishing really ties together so many strands that I find important.

I need to be patient, though. I need to remember that time to play is not time wasted. It’s a time of learning that pays off with the quality of work at the end of the line. I need to remember that.

Peace (in the play),

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