Teachers are using Soundtrap to engage students and enhance learning in numerous ways. Music education is one significant area, but literacy, language learning, podcasting, and other forms of storytelling are also powerful ways in which educators and students are making use of the online studio. Here are the stories of four projects we’ve recently highlighted, each of which illustrates an excellent example of engaging teaching and learning:
Scotland’s Podcast Initiative Produces a New Generation of Storytellers
Inspired by the writings of their local hero J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, members of the local Scottish community in Moat Brae formed a trust dedicated to the art of storytelling. It involved a partnership with local schools in the Dumfries and Galloway regions to activate young students in expressing themselves through podcasting.
Working together, Alan Cameron, an Education Specialist with Soundtrap, and John Molloy, Senior Creative Learning and Engagement Officer at Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, reached out to the local schools defining the concept. When teacher and organizer Mandy Whorlow of Portpatrick Primary got on board the project took shape and student projects developed.
Children from the three participating schools produced 32 finished story podcasts published and released on the Moat Brae website and Facebook page. Students took charge and their enthusiasm for learning grew through the process. According to Ms. Whorlow, “We looked at scripting as another mechanism for writing, and from that, the children were able to take what they had learned, build on prior learning and apply it in this new context.”
The kids added their own introductory music and sound effects to the podcast narrations. There was a great deal of collaborative learning across the schools during the initial partnership trial with the trust. Overall, children worked collaboratively, building off their imaginations and creativity while learning skills for life.
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Enhanced Literacy Learning and Self-Expression
Becca Masse, a kindergarten teacher in Auburn, Maine has a passion for early literacy learning. She shares the story of one of her students, Marlee, an energetic five-year-old born in Ghana whose ability to express herself was unlocked through the use of Soundtrap. Although the girl’s reading skills at the beginning of kindergarten were well developed, her ability to write and draw didn’t match her ability to tell a story and describe her perspective on life.
After asking Marlee to write and draw about her experience living in Ghana, Masse asked her to record herself in Soundtrap speaking about her experience. The results were outstanding. “In exactly two minutes, Marlee expressed her love for Ghana and her passion for life,” recalls Masse. “She spoke a total of 183 words, more than 13 times what she was able to express in written language.” Not only was Marlee’s true spirit and unique essence captured using English vocabulary and grammar in audio form, but Masse used Soundtrap’s transcription tool to show Marlee what she had said as a written text.
The ease of the process released valuable time in Masse’s teaching day to sit down and encourage Marlee as a literacy learner. It amazed Masse how she was able to capture a learner’s true self in only a few minutes using Soundtrap. By listening to the recording again with the student, Masse was able to use it as a learning tool to discuss ideas around composing thoughts, phrasing for meaning, and how to articulate in order to be best understood.
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San Francisco Students Become Interviewers and Storytellers
San Francisco Unified is bringing Ethnic Studies to a whole different level, incorporating podcasting to help lift student voices and develop the skills necessary to become agents of change. Two highly effective voices in the district’s field of educators, Bruna Lee and Nikhil Laud have led the way.
Lee asked her students what they wished to see more of in their learning experience and unanimously received feedback for a desire to incorporate more of their art into the academics that would improve engagement and bring meaning to assignments. She decided to structure her class to be as project-based as possible, thinking of opportunities where students could use their creativity as well as their life experience to display their mastery of the content.
She developed the idea of an oral history project, titled Humanizing Oral Histories, in which students would interview an elder in their community about a topic of their choice. The interviews were turned into podcasts featuring themes on immigration, interracial relationships, queerness, feminism, activism, and more. Together the students went beyond a critical look at self, exploring key connections and relevance to community.
Nikhil Laud, an Ethnic Studies co-coordinator in the district, is a strong proponent of furthering the storytelling process as a learning tool inside schools. He sees projects like Lee’s as crucial to growing authentic cultural and community awareness. “These are stories that need to be uplifted, that have meaning for themselves as well as communities and families,” says Laud.
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Japanese Language Teacher Uses Soundtrap for Podcasting
Liz Lee is a Japanese language teacher at Cedar Heights Middle School and South Kitsap High School in Port Orchard, Washington. As the pandemic hit, she became increasingly affected by the stress her students faced due to increased screen time during online learning. Determined to make a difference, Lee and her colleague Melissa Urushidani turned to audio tracks recorded on Soundtrap in the form of podcasts to teach and give everyone’s eyes a break.
It developed into a series of Wednesday Cultural Podcasts as well as language instruction recordings. The cultural podcasts focused on day-in-the-life themes that the students wanted to hear about and the teachers developed. Themes from Japanese food, holiday rituals, etc. were explored and the students loved the interchange and information. The language recordings were more complex and Lee made sure to keep them interesting. She edited in Soundtrap on her own, taking the time to perfect recordings.“I like to add sound effects every 3 minutes,” she says. “To make them more real and engaging.”
Lee looks to expand the use of Soundtrap, having students record on their own. She believes having students participate in recordings will be something all will enjoy.
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