The Global Center for Journalism and Democracy teamed up with Region 6 Education Service Center on Friday, February 12 to provide a workshop for teachers about how to use and bring podcasts into their curriculum.
The workshop was titled Audio Storytelling: The Art of Podcasting. High school teachers from around the region as well as some SHSU staff attended the workshop. They were trained by Russ Johns, a podcasting expert and Kelli Arena, founding Executive Director of the GCJD.
“We had heard from teachers that there was some interest in podcasting,” Arena said. “Podcasting is a way for teachers to further engage with their students, and for students to display knowledge about subject matter in a new and interesting way that uses technology.”
Before becoming a professor at SHSU, Arena was CNN’s Justice and Investigative Correspondent. She started the training by presenting different audio storytelling techniques.
For the rest of the training Johns showed teachers step by step procedures of creating a podcast while using free downloadable technology. These steps included how to find music, sound effects and pictures without licensing restrictions. Each teacher activated their own accounts on Spreaker, a free podcast hosting site to begin creating podcasts.
“It was a way to serve both the community and our own professors,” Arena said. “They liked that it was very practical. We weren’t talking about the theory of podcasts, we were actually showing them steps that were hands on.”
One of the attendees was Daniela Popich, a Spanish teacher at Infinity Early College High School.
“Podcasts are a very powerful source, especially for foreign language teachers to reach our students,” Popich said. “It will be more engaging for the students and more interesting to apply the Spanish content through this tool.”
Currently Infinity High School’s Spanish Department is in the phases of receiving special permission from the district to use podcasts in the classroom. The teachers are considering the start of their own podcasts while they are waiting for permission to involve the students. However, Popich went to the workshop with the intention of including the students right away.
“I am not the type of person who likes to wait,” Popich said.
She has been implementing what she learned about podcasts in her classroom even though she can’t use the technology yet. Popich said she was impacted by strong motivators, a technique that Arena presented.
Arena said that when trying transmit a message, they should keep in mind the universal topics that would be important to anyone listening. These are called strong motivators, which can be things like love, money or safety. Popich said immediately after the workshop she began using this technique daily while teaching and presenting Spanish content.
“For example, I had to teach about a popular Columbian writer last week, and this was just after Valentine’s Day,” Popich said. “Instead of showing them one of his most renowned writings, I chose a small one that talks about love in a way that the students are experiencing love at their age. After that they were very engaged in who the writer was and why he wrote the piece.”
Popich said this technique has helped because she had a hard time getting her students to care about Spanish, and not many people are interested in learning a second language.
GCJD will continue to partner with Region 6 to gather information from teachers on what materials and training they need to better teach their classes.
Coming up in March, The Global Center is having a local journalism training for professional and student journalists about staying safe on the beat. This program will focus on situational awareness.
“What happens if you get bit by a dog, or hit by a car,” Arena said. “There are even cases of people getting shot live on the air. You don’t have to go to places like Afghanistan to be in danger. If you are not aware of what is happening around you, you become vulnerable.”
This training will help journalists know what to do if something they cover turns into a protest and teach how to become more familiar with police response. Several guests will train the journalists, including a former secret service officer, a police chief who has dealt with protests and riots and a first aid health expert who will do basic first aid training.