Finding Their Voices

School News
February 6, 2018
Julia Littman’s eighth grade English class has been doing some interesting work integrating technology into an otherwise very analog discipline. In past years, they’ve been asked to reflect on books of their choice, which typically takes the form of an essay. One of Littman's professional goals for the year was to integrate more technology into her classroom, so this year, she challenged students to create podcasts about their book clubs.  

“My goal in using this format,” says Littman, “Was for students to have creative license and to introduce them to podcasting. In English class, we talk a lot about written imagery, and podcasts force them to think creatively about how words can paint a picture in someone's mind.” Working together with Technology Integration Specialist, Kim Zimmer, the project also provided opportunities to learn about the use of audio recording technology, digital editing using Apple’s Garageband, how to work collaboratively with a group, and use cloud resources like SoundCloud to share their work.

The resulting podcasts went way beyond discussing plot or symbolism, and allowed 8th graders the space to internalize these stories in a format synonymous with the digital age in which  they’ve grown up. The podcast also leaves room for various types of creative expression; this year found students performing raps, creating interviews with characters, imitating authors, and placing the themes of their stories into a larger context.

The podcast below, created by Hannah Serbinski and Emmie Urquhart, tackles a difficult, but timely subject with nuance, thoughtfulness, and empathy. This group chose the book, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, a work of fiction that tells the story of a girl who is sexually assaulted at the beginning of her 9th grade year. Unable to deal with the shame of her assault, fearing for her safety, and hurt in the belief that no one will believe her, Melinda is rendered mute, unable to speak.