Podcasting in the Middle School
Podcasting in the Middle School

by Shirley Blake, Director of Communications

New Middle School teacher, Bryce Brady, landed at Brentwood last fall with an idea to take his Public Speaking class to a different level. The course, open to 7th and 8th Grade students, has been taught using traditional methods, with an emphasis on standing in front of the class and delivering a speech in a compelling way. But Brady wanted to introduce the present day technology of podcasting to give students a new medium in which to learn.

"It is my first time teaching the course, and my goal is to use it as a platform where the students can find their authentic voice," said Brady. "While it is important that they develop the skills to be able to stand in front of a group of people and deliver a speech...the traditional paradigm of public speaking is not the only way they can deliver their message to an audience. There are myriad mediums through which our students can (and must) give a speech, share their story, present an idea, or advocate for what they believe is right. Podcasting is one of those mediums."

As he explains, "Podcasts are an audio experience. Students must ignite the imagination of their audience and maintain their attention using only their voice and audible tools. This includes silence, sound effects, music, tension, humor, the list goes on. When an audience can see a human being giving a speech, the humanity of the speaker manifests itself primarily through nonverbal communication: body language, presence, tone. In a podcast, the visual aesthetic is removed. Those nonverbal queues must manifest themselves differently, requiring the students to find new avenues of creativity."

Brady was proud of the work his students produced noting that they responded positively to the medium, even though they were a bit out of their comfort zones and a little uncomfortable at first. But as we know, there is no growth inside one's comfort zone.

Brady plans to continue to use podcasts in the classroom and will try a podcast series for a unit in his English classes where students will read a book and then create a podcast of literary analysis for each chapter. Tune in for future updates!

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