Sunday, February 8, 2015

Technology Teach-In

Community High School has access to a few excellent technological resources, including two computer labs with Mac desktop computers. However, with the exception of a few trips to the lab to play a stock market exchange game, my mentor teacher and I have made relatively little use of the technological tools available to us. For my technology teach-in I plan on working with my students to develop a series of podcasts about the monetary and fiscal policies of the government here in the good ole' USA.

Later in the semester we will have an entire unit devoted to Government Roles in the Economy. Fiscal and monetary policy are difficult topics, yet extremely important and relevant to understanding how rules and regulations affect the economy and the people of a society. This lesson covers expansionary and contractionary policies, the tools the Fed uses to cause change, and effects on indices such as unemployment and inflation. To help my students engage with this material, I would like to take them to the media center to create podcasts. I hope that after thoroughly unpacking the content in class and giving them the chance to do some research on their own, my students will feel comfortable defending some sort of argument or opinion. After helping them to organize their thoughts and ideas (perhaps using a graphic organizer!) we could go down to the media center and students could begin recording.

Though most of my students have never used the technology to create a podcast, I believe that this could be beneficial in multiple ways. My learning goals are loosely structured around the following ideas. First, there are a lot of variables in fiscal and monetary policy and I think that a project or performance type assessment, such as a podcast, would help me to see whether or not they have synthesized the material into a coherent argument or opinion. Secondly, I think that this technology allows students to express their opinions creatively using an innovative new process. Furthermore, creating a podcast allows students to practice a new method of communication, using digital media to publish ideas and information. Finally, I hope that students will take this opportunity to positively interact with a new technological tool to assist them in learning.

I'm very excited about trying to utilize some new technology in my classroom, but I do have a question about this teach-in lesson for my colleagues. Do you think it would be better to have the students work in groups to create a podcast? I'm not sure if this would dilute the experience or create an opportunity for collaboration. I look forward to hearing everyone's feedback/comments!


  1. It is great when there are resources to use at school, but it can be frustrating when there are issues with those tools. As you said, Government Roles in the Economy is very important to understand. Having the students create their own work will help them be more engaged and hopefully learn the material better. Creating podcast is a great way to accomplish all of that. I think you will have to set time aside to teach your students how to create a podcast and all the issues that might come along with it. I think you could have them work in pairs but any more then that might take too much away from the lesson. Since it is new technology I personally think it is better if they have someone to work together rather than coming to you every two seconds and asking how something works. Remember that the point of this is to teach about Government roles. I hope your lesson goes well.

  2. Hello Ms. Stemmer! This sounds like a great project for students, and I think choosing podcasts is especially interesting, as opposed to video or written work. Your idea reminds me of a radio show type presentation, which I think will have some interesting intricacies in expressing and supporting an opinion for the students. I also agree that discussing fiscal and monetary policies is extremely important, and I think allowing students to share their opinions after learning about these topics will be particularly rewarding for your students. Another important aspect that students will gain from this activity is the opportunity to practice making a statement and supporting it, which is always a great exercise for students. Finally, in response to your question, I think groups would make the most sense, but small groups, as it may be hard to choose one opinion if the groups are too big. I support groups, because I think this will allow those more introverted students will be better supported by groups, and there will also likely be more discussion around the topic if students are working in groups. One question I have for you is how students will record these podcasts, as it may be difficult if everyone is attempting to record at the same time. I wish you all the best with this podcast project! I think it will be great!
    - Ms. Nao

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  4. Mantha,
    Sounds like you have some awesome opportunities presenting themselves at your placement. While I have not had my students creating their own podcasts, I have had them listening to certain ones to aid with their understanding of texts they have been covering. Im am happy to report that it really did help most of my different class periods and after doing an exit ticket for each class, students actually enjoyed the podcast. Hopefully you will have the same result with you doing the opposite and having students creating their own. It really sounds like an awesome idea to scaffold instruction for students to help them to get a deeper meaning with what it is they are learning.

    Thanks for sharing

  5. Samantha, you've gotten some good advice from your colleagues regarding the question you asked at the end about structuring the activity. I'll simple say that I appreciate the effort you put into describing the specific student learning goals that informed your choice, and I find your conjecture that engaging the students in this activity could present you with a novel and quite illuminating assessment tool to be very thoughtful. I'll be eager to hear how that aspect of things plays out, as well as to learn how the students responded to your expressly inviting their creativity into the mix. If you do go the route of pairs or small groups, there are probably some interesting added dimensions you could add to the task, dividing the work up into research, script writing, performance, production, etc.
    I'm very eager to see how your very creative idea plays out, Samantha.

  6. Samantha,

    Sounds like a very well thought-out idea for a lesson. I think that podcasts can be a fun medium through which students can present ideas, and that it might make them feel some kind of ownership over such large and (in my humble opinion) difficult to understand concepts. Your idea also makes me think back to what one of our guest lecturers talked about regarding student performance. High schoolers seem to love to share their ideas and work with an audience. I can attest to this with the magazine project I just completed, and I think your idea has the potential to provide that as well. Students could submit their podcasts to some kind of economics site (and I'm sure there are several) that reviews policy and application type-stuff. Anyway, something to consider. Either way, I look forward to the finished products.