This exhibit is a component of the PBS TeacherLine/ISTE Capstone Certificate Program. The exhibit is part of the Portfolio intended to demonstrate proficiency in the ISTE NETS for Teachers.

Exhibit Details

Capstone I
Developing a NETS•T Technology Portfolio Capstone
Fluency with Podcasts
A podcast project completed in a 5th grade classroom relating to the class novel.
Parson, Nathanael
The American School Foundation of Guadalajara
Grade Taught
Primary Subject
Reading/Language Arts
Curriculum Topic(s)
Short Stories, Grammar Practice, English Fluency
Exhibit Description

This podcasting project was used in combination with the 5th grade Language Arts novel titled "Loser" by Jerry Spinelli. The project was completed at the American School Foundation of Guadalajara in Jalisco Mexico. This American school serves approximately 1426 students from Kindergarten to twelfth grade. The American School of Guadalajara is the only U.S. accredited school in Guadalajara, the second largest city of Mexico, with a population of almost six million. We are also one of four schools in Mexico sponsored officially by the U.S. Department of State's Office of Overseas Schools.

I am the 5th grade team leader and one of the two Language Arts and Social Studies teachers. I have two groups of 25 students and among the 50 students I have 6 who are on modified educational plans. 

This project consisted of working with the technology specialist in the middle school tech lab to create a podcast based on the novel we were reading in class. The goal of the podcast was for students to choose from three options and then collaborate with their partner to produce a creative podcast which demonstrated their understanding of the events from the novel. 

As the Language Arts teacher my goal was to see my second language learners expressing themselves orally in complete sentences with correct grammar usage. Additionally, I created a rubric for the students to use as their guide to completion. The rubric included several specific elements that I wanted to see in the podcast. For example, they needed to use sensory words, facts, descriptive words, and creativity with voices and volume. The technology specialist and I recorded an exemplary podcast for the students to refer to as they worked to create their own podcasts. Students could choose to recreate a scene from the book, conduct a fictitious interview with the author or characters, or create their own scene based on what they knew about the characters in the novel. 

The technology specialist took the first day to explain how to use the software program "Adobe Premiere Elements". His goal was to prepare the fifth grade students for their upcoming tech project in the 6th grade where they are asked to create a short film. This early introduction to the software will help them in the coming years as they learn to use technology more and more in their classes, projects, and presentations. 

This exhibit demonstrates how my podcasting project meets the McREL Language Arts standards and the ISTE standards at the beginning and developing levels.

Time Frame
Seven 45 minute classes
Tech Rationale

This generation of students is connected in more ways than we see or understand. They naturally communicate with their mobile devices and they feel naked without them. When given free-time they choose to browse music libraries, share funny videos, or compete on the latest gaming system. As a teacher I have a foot on both sides of the fence when it comes to how digital technology should be used in the classroom. On the one hand, I side with the critics when they say computer screens and instant messaging may be destroying this generation's ability to have meaningful face to face interactions. But on the other hand, I see no reason why we can't incorporate the use of digital technology in an attempt to connect better with the current generation of students. When students use the technology that surrounds them to create new and exciting content I can't help but applaud them and guide them towards further development of their creative talent. 

My rationale for creating a podcasting project connected with our class novel reflects my own interest in digital technology and my desire to bring the novel to life for my students. When I see them laughing and working with their partner to write the dialogue and bring their character to life I find myself becoming more motivated to teach.  

Also, the podcasting project gives the students a unique opportunity to listen to their own voices and evaluate themselves based on the rubric and expectations. When we record or video tape ourselves it always reveals something new and interesting that we never knew about ourselves before. I want my students to know how their ideas are sounding to the rest of the class. With unrecorded oral presentations the students miss out on the chance to evaluate themselves. 

As a secondary goal the tech specialist and I wanted to create a project that would introduce the students to the video and audio editing program "Adobe Premiere Elements" which they would be using in grades 5-8. Our rationale was that if students can have a non-threatening introduction to the software then they will be more likely to succeed when asked to create more complicated projects in the future.  
Finally, I believe that having fun while learning is the key to success for most middle school students. If I can show them how learning is seamlessly connected with fun then maybe I can unlock their internal motivation and set them free as life long learners.

Student Learning


The podcast format made it clear which students were understanding the novel at the desired level. While conducting my daily formative assessments I could see how the students who had taken the time read at home and answer the study questions didn't find the project difficult. Those who decided not to read at home and not to complete the study questions complained the project was too difficult and confusing. I found the podcast to be a good reflection of how much each student was comprehending from the book. Since we had 7 class days to work on the project I was able to set aside extra time with the students who were having difficulty and we reflected on why the project seemed to be so difficult. Most of them admitted that if they had read more at home and answered more of the optional study questions then they would be better prepared to choose an option and complete it for the project. 

After evaluating each podcast I found that 67% of the students were able to successfully translate their understanding of the novel into an entertaining podcast while the remainder succeeded in some areas but on the whole failed to produce a coherent recording of the characters from the novel. One of the best parts of the project was the peer evaluation portion that we completed on the final day. When given the opportunity to evaluate their peers most of the students held their peers to a higher standard than I did. I found it interesting to watch as the students would listen to their own podcast and quickly point out which areas they could  have done better or which parts they were exceptionally proud of. My hope is that in the future these students will have a better idea of how oral presentations in any form need to meet expectations, engage the audience, and stick to a main theme.  

One of the more notable successes aside from the content was the ability for each student to come away from the project and say I know how to create a good podcast using "Adobe Premiere Elements" and I can translate that knowledge into any other editing program. Just having the time to work with the program in pairs gave the students confidence that will serve them well in the years to come.


Standards Addressed

1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 3A, 3B, 3C, 4A, 4B, 4C, 5A, 5C


  • 1A Creative and Innovative

    In my classroom, I like to model creative use of technology at a moments notice. For example, one day the middle school principal dropped in to announce that he would like the students to brainstorm new ideas for service projects around the city. I immediately opened up a new map in and we got started with the brainstorming process. By the end of our 15 minute brainstorm we had evidence to send the principal which demonstrated the collective ideas of the whole class. 

    Standards Addressed:


  • 1B Real and Authentic

    This year during the crisis in Haiti that was caused by the devastation earthquake we took the opportunity to use Google Earth and fund raising webpages to bring our classroom closer to the problem and lend a hand however possible. 

    Standards Addressed:


  • 1C Student Reflection

    Using new online applications such as VoiceThread gives the students a new way to reflect on the work of their peers and the work of students from around the world. 

    Standards Addressed:


  • 1D Knowledge Construction

    The way I construct my knowledge has changed drastically in the past 5 years due to my increased participation in local and global learning communities. Without these communities dedicated to the advancement of knowledge my professional development would remain virtually stagnant. 

    Standards Addressed:


  • 2A Learning Experiences

    Reflection on Standard 2A
    2A: Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity.

    This project was intended to create an opportunity for students to show their teacher how much they were comprehending about the novel from class. Since we read the majority of the book in class out loud I thought creating a podcast about the book would be engaging for the students and it would promote creativity amongst the groups of two students. 
    The digital tools used for creating the podcast will be used later in grades 6, 7, and 8 when they begin learning how to include video and audio together. So for the big picture technology skills at the middle school level this project will give them a chance to test out the software in a non-threatening situation and help the progression from grade to grade. 

    When I do this lesson again next year I plan to spend more time reviewing the good examples as a class and asking the students to further analyze and come up with their own reasons for why the podcast is good or bad. I felt that many students said they were finished before the allotted time was over and the product they turned in was less than acceptable. I would like to incorporate more formative type assessments that keep the students on task and promotes the creative atmosphere. 

    Standards Addressed:


  • 2B Individual Interest and Manage

    2B: Develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress. 

    Fortunately, we were able to reserve the technology lab for three days which gave us a perfect technology enriched learning environment. We had one computer for every student available but we decided to pair students up and share a computer so they wouldn't get distracted by the internet connection. Each pair of students had their own microphone and audio software for recording and editing the podcast. The room was silent unless a group was recording and we treated it like a studio with professional podcasters. I believe the environment and the inicial impression of the project are important for the final success and creativity that is invested into the final product. Students were able to manage their own use of time throughout the 3 days in the lab because I gave them the freedom to add their own touches to the podcast as long as they could show me how they were meeting the requirements from the rubric.  

    Finally, students were able to assess their own learning by using the daily checklist that I created in Google Docs. They were required to submit their progress daily so I could help them on any sections that were taking too much time.  

    Next year, I will use my updated checklist which includes further details on the content portion. Many students were unsure of how much factual evidence needed to be included from the book and I would like to re-wire that in a clearer way.

    Standards Addressed:


  • 2C Customize and Personalize

    Standard 2C Reflection 

    Customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources.
    With this podcast project I was able to accomodate the students in my classroom with diverse learning styles in various ways. For example, with my student who tends to have an over abundance of physical energy I asked him if he would like to include any interviews from around the school. This gave him a chance to move to other parts of the school and remain standing while he quickly recorded the responses to this questions using the audio recording feature from our library point and shoot camera. 
    Another adaptation was allow my student with dyslexia to not participate in writing the script. Her job was to test out the script by performing a test recording and then letting her partner know how she thought it sounded afterwards. 
    Finally, I made an adaptation for one of my students who has extreme anxiety when speaking front of the class and reading in class. So I allowed him to offer extra assistance to groups with writing in humor and checking the grammar since he is exceptionally good at writing in dry humor and making the kids laugh. 

    Standards Addressed:


  • 2D: Assessment

    Standard 2D Reflection

    Provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching.
    This is the standard that I would like to see myself improving the most for the next podcast project this coming year. I used the checklist and the peer evaluations for this session but I wasn't satisfied with the results. The students were not self-motivated by the formative assessments. They didn't seem to care when they feel behind on the daily checklists. My goal was that students could monitor themselves by using the checklist but maybe my idea was not well thought out and I'm wondering if the grade level is not conducive with so much autonomy of time management. 
    For the coming year I will use a more rigid formative assessment and I will most likely do away with the peer evaluations. I found that many students were not assessing the podcasts of their peers based on the rubric but instead based on the popularity of students in the classroom.

    Standards Addressed:


  • 3A System Fluency and Transfer

    From my experience using shared online calendars in previous jobs I was able to translate that knowledge into my current school's calendar system. Fundamental knowledge of infrastructure and network connectivity has helped me to see the big picture instead of getting caught up in the details of conflicting platforms and operating systems. 

    Standards Addressed:


  • 3B Collaborate

    Recently, I was asked to create modified groupings consisting of 5th and 6th grade students based on their Language Arts test results. In order to complete this task I knew I would need confidential test score information from all 5th and 6th grade teachers. I decided to use a shared spreadsheet were all teachers could contribute the required information at their convenience. This system proved to be a success and the feedback was positive. Because of this experience I am now looking for other ways to utilize collaborate digital technology to complete simple to complex tasks. 

    Standards Addressed:


  • 3C Communicate

    Using digital technology to offer instruction for teachers has saved me valuable time. For example, when a teacher comes to me with a complex technology based problem I usually ask them to give me until the next day to prepare my response. During this time I create a short screen cast of the necessary steps and then pass that video to them via USB or SharePoint. Then when the next teacher comes with the same problem I can direct them to the tutorial video. Now I can't imagine being limited to using only written text to communicate a solution to a common problem. 

    Standards Addressed:


  • 4A AUP & Safety

    Thanks to the i-safe webpage I have been able to share valuable safety information with my students regarding the correct and ethical use of the internet and digital media. 

    Standards Addressed:


  • 4B Diverse and Equitable

    In my classroom, I strive to meet each student were there are and give them challenges they can understand. Often times this means modifying assignments and projects to give all my students an equal opportunity for success.

    Standards Addressed:


  • 4C Ethics and Etiquette

    Our school's recent push for bullying prevention has inspired me to find great resources from around the world. One of the most impacting units I've found so far is from the "Let's Fight it Together" campaign in the UK. 

    Standards Addressed:


  • 5A Learning Communities

    This collection demonstrates my understanding of and experience with a professional learning community.

    Standards Addressed:


  • 5C Research and Practice

    I believe that to be a life long learner we must admit that mastery of anything doesn't exist. Therefore, we must continually remain up-to-date on the topics that affect our profession. Action research in the classroom and access to reliable research journals is crucial to our success as leading educators. 

    Standards Addressed:


Approved as of April 21, 2010

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