Oral Histories: Can we fathom the reality of the Katrina disaster? » Moving at the Speed of Creativity

Can we fathom the reality of the Katrina disaster? » Moving at the Speed of Creativity

Scrolling through my Google Reader today, I was captivated by this post by Wesley Fryer.  He tells of an encounter he had with a Katrina survivor and the harrowing events she experienced.

What struck me the most were these comments:

Listening to this woman tell her story, I was further convicted of the importance of recording and archiving the stories and experiences of others in our communities and in our homes. It was impossible to listen to her tale and not be moved. Too often in school, I think we focus too much on facts and dates, and fail to connect personally with a context. Listening to the lived experiences of others who have survived harrowing circumstances can be an impactful learning opportunity.

A search this evening on YouTube for “hurricane katrina” yields over 9000 videos, and I will readily admit I have NOT taken the time to watch many of these. Of the videos I have seen, however, none communicate the desperation and all-out battle for survival which the woman on our train shared in her story Sunday night. I have an abiding sense that much of “the story” of the Katrina disaster remains untold and undocumented, at least for those of us who would be students of this recent history.

So here are some ideas I have right off the bat that could be put to use (especially in those days after EOGs when teachers struggle to keep students engaged).

  • Have students find someone to interview in their community, someone with a story to tell and interview the person
  • Have students document the interview by taking photos of the person telling the story, shooting digital video, or record the audio digitally
  • Take not only the words the person says but these digital captures and mash them up in a project that tells the story visually and aurally

For these types of projects to have the most impact, they need to be shared and not just in the form of a presentation in the classroom but online through teacher blogs or the school blogs.  Ok, ideas for mashing:

  • Create a PowerPoint and insert video or audio clips of the interviewee; save them as web pages, upload to the web; link to blogs
  • Create a PhotoStory using still images and audio files; upload finished projects and link to blogs
  • Create podcasts of the interviews (there are many tools out there for this) and link to blogs
  • Create a VoiceThread project with the movie footage or still shots; share the links of the finished projects on blogs
  • Publish digital video to Google video and create a PowerPoint slideshow to accompany it with thoughts or comments; publish in Zentation where the video and the slideshow are presented side by side; link to blogs

There are probably a million ways to do this but these are some thoughts that struck me right off the bat.

iTouch Possibilities in the Classroom

I created a post on the topic of iPods in the classroom on our school’s blog to see what sort of unique ideas we could get on how iPods could be used to facilitate learning in the classroom.  While most of the student comments focused on wanting to bring their own iPods to class so they could listen to music, we did receive some interesting comments on different uses for iPods.  My article focused more on the new iTouch iPods because of their wireless Internet capabilities.  I have been thinking how neat it would be to have a class set of these so teachers could check them out and use them as an alternative to laptops for Internet research.  Of course, podcasting is always a possibility as well. 

Is any school out there using iTouch iPods in this way?  I would be thrilled to hear some ideas on the topic.  Since I don’t own one personally, it would also be nice to hear what users actually have to say about them.

Our First Podcast!

Bravo to 7th grade science teacher Rebeccah Haines and her Osprey Team Science podcasters! They have successfully created 2 podcasts: an egghunt announcement and thoughts by one student on what she learned in her frog dissection. I am awed by the some of the first fruits of our NCAECT group.  I can’t take credit for any of this either (which thrills me).  I only found out about it as I scrolled through my Google Reader and caught her post.  Way to go guys!

Mrs. Haines used Gcast to generate these podcasts. It’s simple and easy and includes free hosting for the recordings. Here is some more info straight from Gcast:

  • Record messages by phone (never touch a computer!)
  • Upload MP3 files from your computer
  • Add “podsafe” songs from GarageBand.com
  • Mix all the above with our online playlist manager
  • Our Playlist Manager helps you organize and mix audio from a range of sources. It’s easy for beginners yet flexible enough for advanced users.Every audio file you add to your account, whether a phone recording, a GarageBand.com song, or an MP3 from your own computer, starts out in your Master Playlist. From there you can copy it to other playlists and you can publish individual audio files or entire playlists to your podcast channel.When you publish a playlist, our system automatically mixes the audio files into one continuous MP3 file for your podcast.
  • Introducing the easiest way to record a podcast. Just call 1-888-65-GCAST, enter your ID and PIN code, and start recording!After you record, you’ll have two options:
    • Save & publish: your recording will be automatically added to your podcast channel.
    • Save without publishing: your recording will appear as a new audio file in your Master Playlist, where you can move, mix, and publish it later.

Start a phone-based audio journal of your life. Record your new baby’s voice. Podcast jokes, tips, deep
thoughts, or whatever. Record a “voice intro” before a song. If you’re a musician, leave phone messages for
your fans to share stories from the road or new lyrics from the studio. Your imagination is the limit!

  • The Gcast player can be embedded into any web page, giving your listeners instant gratification. Fans can also check out past episodes and subscribe to your podcast channel.
  • Besides your own website, you can encourage other people to embed your podcast into their websites. All you need to do is to copy and paste a few lines of HTML. The player can be configured to play automatically,or wait for users to press play.

Wow! Easier than Audacity which I began learning about yesterday. Thanks to free resources like Gcast, the shackles of proprietary and complex software are falling away. Let the learning begin!

UPDATE:  I finished my first podcast yesterday.  I decided to do an enhanced podcast of the 5th grade visit to our school.  Each day this week, a different group of 5th graders visited our school.  They were paired up with a 6th grade buddy and shadowed them all day long.  I took photos and made a Photo Story of them.  I created the first and last slides in PowerPoint and exported them as GIFs.  The music is free from podsafeaudio.com.  The interview was recorded straight into Audacity, edited, and then exported as an MP3.  Put it all together and I made my first podcast!  I’m not 100% thrilled with it because I am obviously too loud.  I guess I could have split the tracks so my volume could be adjusted more but the tone of my voice is very high and overpowering.  I have a lot to learn but I don’t think it’s too bad for a 1st run!