A couple weeks ago, we talked about putting a new spin on the classic book report assignment by having your students create their own book trailers. This got us thinking about other ways we could help teachers who are looking for book report alternatives. Here’s what we came up with: podcasting apps.
First, what is a podcast? Why it’s nothing more than an audio recording that listeners can either stream via the internet or download to their own mobile audio device.
Second, why use podcast apps to create a book report? One reason is because it’s a way to put a new spin on an old project. Another reason is for the simple fact that it’s a creative way to get quieter students to break out of their shells. While it's true that learning to speak in front of others is an important life skill, it's also true that students who hate to speak in front of their peers may struggle to give you the best of what they’ve got. Podcast apps can be a lifesaver for your wallflowers. What they are willing to create in the privacy of their homes is going to surprise you once it's played in class.
If you’re wondering where and how to get started, don’t worry. We’re going to walk you through the entire process!
How to Use Podcasting Apps for Your Next Book Report Assignment
Download iPadio. iPadio is a great option for your students; it's FREE, students can use previously downloaded audio data, or they can use their phones - land line or otherwise - to create a book report podcast. Once you download the app, iPadio has a seemingly infinite number of tutorials which you can browse through to glean information about some of the most interesting and book-report-worthy features and functions. Once you become an expert, you can create your own iPadio podcast tutorial instructing students how to create their podcast book reports.
Download Audacity. If students don't want to use their phones to record a podcast, they can download another FREE program called Audacity. This program will allow them to create recordings, save them, and then upload them into the iPadio platform. Your more high-tech students will love this because they can get pretty wacky and complex with their podcast recordings. They can even dub over their existing tracks to create multi-track recordings. After they are finished, they can get pretty snazzy and technical with Audacity's editing features.
Emphasize iPadio’s Voice-to-Text Feature. iPadio’s voice-to-text feature is wonderful because it creates dual enforcement for your auditory/visual learners and can help struggling reader/writers and second language learners to read what they said. Students can also edit their text to take care of verbal blunders, mispronounced words, etc. etc. to make sure the copy is legible and makes sense.
Get Creative. Whether students choose to use a program like Audacity or stick to the more bare bones iPadio format, there is a good deal of room for creativity. In addition to podcasting apps, they can use programs like Partners in Rhyme to add soundtracks and/or music loops. This can be a great way to lead in to their podcast or to segue from one book theme to another or from a happy plot line to a sad one. Programs like Freesound have all kinds of fun FREE sound bites. Consider the following sound titles:
- ding ding
- angry voices
- futuristic sound wave
You get the picture...or, er, the sound.
If you are looking for book report alternatives, have your class create podcasts the next time around. Once the podcasts are created, the links can be embedded on your class website, or via twitter feeds for parents to listen to as well. Who knows? Some of your students might take the project and run with it, becoming the next podcast phenomena.