MEETING THE STANDARDS
Each and every day teachers like me are looking for ways to meet the standards, engage the students, differentiate our instruction and prepare students for the future. I was intrigued by a new digital solution this year – SOUNDTRAP.
POCAHONTAS AREA VALUES TECHNOLOGY
As a teacher, I am fortunate that my school system values technology and is willing to make a commitment to its use with students. Our school committed to purchasing Soundtrap and we received training at the beginning of the year. That is when we all started to think about how Soundtrap might work in our classroom.
21st CENTURY SKILLS IN THE IOWA CORE
I have a high school Promotions class that takes on the role of promoting our school and all of our various activities. Soundtrap sounded like a natural fit for this class. Why not start a weekly podcast? My students were excited about the opportunity, so we started brainstorming ideas. As a class, we decided what content might be appropriate for a school podcast, and we also went through a process to pick a name for our podcast. The class formed teams and began working on ideas for their podcasts.
This is where we connect the 21st century skills from the Iowa Core. Communicating and working productively with others is at the heart of the employability skills in the Iowa Core. Initiative, self-direction, productivity and accountability are also key components of employability skills. While students work collaboratively to bring this podcast to our school community, they are becoming increasingly proficient asthey practice these skills. Because this podcast is available to everyone, they care about its quality and put more effort into the project than they might if it were simply an assignment that only the teacher would hear.
21st century skills also include technology literacy. Using digital media, thinking creatively, and communicating with technology are all key pieces in the Iowa Core. Soundtrap provides an excellent tool for enhancing these skills for our students.
CONNECTING CTE AND THE ACADEMIC CORE
While I am a career and technical teacher (business education) and my class technically falls under the CTE (Career Technical Education) umbrella, I love that our podcast project allows my students to connect with the literacy standards found in the Iowa Core. They must produce clear and coherent writing prior to recording their podcasts, and must continually strengthen their writing as revisions are often necessary before final production begins. The standards also call for adapting speech in a variety of contexts, so the weekly podcast allows them to do just that. They can then use technology to publish their work.
While this project is specific to my Promotions class, I believe that Soundtrap is a natural outlet for students to express themselves and what they have learned by using technology as a tool to use their “voice.” The podcast project is my first attempt at using Soundtrap in my classroom, but it has increased the level of engagement for my students, so I hope to use it in other classes to differentiate the products that students produce as a way to showcase their learning.
While we have just started using Soundtrap for podcasting, I sincerely hope that the simple projects students are completing now will inspire them to think BIG, and to produce increasingly complex and professional projects using Soundtrap. I would encourage any teacher in any discipline to consider allowing their students to use Soundtrap as an outlet to express themselves and to showcase their learning. I owe a big thank you to Susan Oehlertz, the PAC technology integrationist, and Phil Trimble, the PAC technology director, for introducing me to this tool and to their continued commitment to bringing high quality technology tools like Soundtrap to our staff and students!