Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mini-podcasts are a Cinch, maybe

One of the things on my digital literacy checklist for this year is to make audio recordings of our students as they do their three oral poetry recitals.  The more I consider doing mini-podcasts, the more excited I get about it.

Audio recordings will help teach students speaking skills.  Last year students practiced their poems at home, then did a single presentation to the class.  This was an opportunity for students to speak in front of the class, but didn't allow for much teaching.  I want a way to let students hear themselves, get some teacher recommendations for improvement, practice for a day or two, then (hopefully improve and) recite for a grade. I especially hope that this will help those students who are reluctant to get up in front of the class because they will be able to hear their improvement.

Teaching students to do some mini-podcasts will also expose them to a type of digital media they may not know about.  They may well listen to and create podcasts in their future lives outside of school; recording and listening to their poetry recitals now will be a quick and easy introduction to podcasting.

Also, audio recordings will be a nice souvenir of 5th grade for families.  There is a reason we teach Family Life in 5th grade.  Our students really change over the year!  This may be the last year some of them sound like young children.  It might be very nice for families to have recordings of those young voices to remember when their 5th graders head off to college.  I know I cherish the audio recordings I made for my husband's travels when our children were toddlers.

Until today, I had the idea of the recordings in mind, but had only gotten as far as wishing there were an app for that.  Now, I know there is one.

Today, as I was reading the e-book Playing with Media, by Wesley Fryer, I came across a solution that I want to try.  He recommends opening a Cinch account at Cinch.fm, then using the Cinch app to make audio recordings.  Sam Gliksman, also recommends Cinch and has helpful recommendations in his article, Give Your Students A Voice With Micro-Podcasts.  Notably, Sam Gliksman warns that the default public setting should be reset (by clicking the lock icon next to the folder) and the geotagging turned off (if you are using an iPad or iPhone).  Both comments are very good advice for elementary school.

This evening, while working on my computer, I quickly opened a Cinch account.  Before I even got an email confirmation, I had a Cinch follower.  Neat.  I discovered that it is easy to set up additional accounts, so I can quickly create account "folders" for each student.  I'm not sure yet, but it may be best to make each account private when it is created.  I made a Cinch to file in my main folder and have not been able to make that one folder private.

It was easy to make a Cinch recording.  I think I did everything correctly, but my recording remains pending.  I'm guessing that isn't supposed to happen.  I have emailed Customer Service . . . and am reminded that I am learning along with my students!

The next morning, there was an email from Amy from Customer Service.  She said that when there is a pending note, the Cinch recording hasn't finished uploading yet, and she recommended rebooting.  I did that to no avail.  Looks like there's a glitch somewhere.

There's good news too, though.  Since I plan to do the Cinches on our class iPads, I downloaded the app, did a quick recording and it worked.  Time spent, less than 2 minutes, including getting the app from the App store.  Score one for the iPad! 

I'll revise the poetry lessons to let the students and families know that we will be using Cinch on the iPads and we're ready to go.  

Maybe I should warn my family that I'll be using them at Cinch guinea pigs for the rest of the break.

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