Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Setting Up a Podcast Station In The Classroom

Yesterday I talked about integrating some current ideas into my choice time for next year. To continue my "meaningful choice time" series, for this post I'll dive into one of my stations that just so happens to have nothing to do with those ideas. But I feel it's nonetheless important not only to the idea of "Choice time" but also to actively teach good speaking and listening habits.

Because we all can't be big-eared Vulcans

I've mentioned Julian Treasure before (he actually has 5 TED talks, which must be some kind of record), but it wasn't until I recently listened to the TED Radio Hour episode called "Extrasensory", that I remembered his listening strategy acronym, called "RASA"

Not to be confused with "Tabula Rasa"
Who said Season 6 of Buffy was all gloom and doom?

From this Julian Treasure's TED talk, RASA stands for:

Receive, which means pay attention to the person
Appreciate: making little noises like "hmm," "oh," and "okay."
Summarize: The word "so" is very important in communication.
Ask: Ask questions afterward.

Having a two person podcast, where one student is the interviewer and one student is the interviewee, seems like the perfect forum to practice these listening skills. 

Here's what my setup will look like for this year: 

Design is important for me. And when there is only sound involved, I think for students to take ownership, there has to be care in making the product. That's why when I have a podcast station during choice time when there is a lot of activity around, the sound quality should be a priority. I want it to look, feel, and sound like a radio station. That's why I'm not using an iPad to do this; the space has to seem legitimate. Here is how I set this up:

Behringer XM8500 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

Each of these microphones sell for $20 on Amazon. They're dynamic mics, so they are really good at picking up just the voice in front of them. I haven't tested this with a classroom full of children yet, but I turned on the overhead fan and opened the window right next to microphone when the wind was blowing hard, and the only sound it picked up was my voice. Dynamic mics are the way to go.  

On Stage DS7200B Adjustable Desk Microphone Stand, Black 


This stand is a stand. 
They sit on the desk. 

On Stage MY325 Dynamic Shock Mount Microphone Clip


The clips that come with the microphones don't fit with these stands, so I got these. They work with both the microphones and the stands. 

Your Cable Store XLR 3 Pin Microphone Cable (6 feet)


The microphones don't have their own power source. They use these cables to plug into a device that can handle two channels of audio. 

Zoom H4N

This is a big expenditure. It's a dang good recorder on its own. It's not a good podcast recorder because its built-in microphones aren't dynamic. This means that it picks up every single possible sound in the classroom. Instead I use it as both a mixer and a hard drive. 


I've read reports that the Zoom H4N can only handle a 32GB card without a degradation in quality. However the bigger the memory, the more time it will take the Zoom H4N to turn on and load. Either a 4 GB or an 8 GB card will give you enough recording time for multiple recordings. 

After a podcast is recorded, it can be transferred to a laptop. We'll use GarageBand to edit and SoundCloud to publish. 

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