From research about bears spotted in Irvington to mental health and the history of the aqueduct trail, Irvington Middle School eighth graders have been collaborating with partners to explore a variety of topics in their original podcasts.
The project is part of a culminating assignment in English language arts teachers Tara Chillemi’s and Olivia Evanko’s classes. While in previous years students conducted research and wrote a research paper as a similar project in their classes, Chillemi and Evanko said they decided to create a new challenge for their students.
“We wanted to give students an authentic way to show off their thinking while still mastering the skills needed to write a research paper,” Evanko said. “Rather than writing a formal research paper, students conduct research, synthesize their research by creating a script, and utilize a variety of techniques to inform and engage their audience to create a podcast on a topic of their choice.”
Throughout the experience, the students can rehearse, record and edit their podcasts and become comfortable with Soundtrap, the platform where they record their podcasts and create original sound.
“Every day, we are blown away by students’ engagement,” Chillemi said. “We’re hearing from other teachers how students are talking to each other and sharing their research and ideas in study hall, in the hallways and during lunch. From conducting interviews to creating original surveys to incorporating original sound, every podcast is original and unique. We hope the students take away that research and information does not have to be boring; in fact, it can be fun.”
Once the podcasts are complete, students will share their final projects with their classmates and have opportunities to listen to their peers’ work.