Natural Disaster Public Service Announcements

I went to Homma today to work with Shannon and her Grade 4 class. The students had just finished researching a natural disaster (hurricane, tornado, flood, earthquake). The goal was for each student to now produce a 30 second PSA that features their topic. Students were challenged to pick a focus (i.e. a warning, a report, an appeal for victims, a "what-to-do-if" announcement) and fold in some facts that they learned from their research.

We started by brainstorming what might be included in a typical PSA.
  • Narrator
  • Attention getting stinger
  • Ambient sound effects (wind, rain, thunder)
  • Music track for mood.

Then the students were given a quick overview of Garageband and some housekeeping details (i.e. how to create a folder on the desktop, create a New Podcast, save using student's name in the title, etc). I explained how the voice tracks and jingle tracks worked, showed how to record and how to add sound effects. Then (on the spot) I created a quickie demo for the students to model how a PSA might take shape.

We gave the students about 20 minutes in their groups of 3 to play with the settings, look for sound effects and get familiar with the interface.

After recess, I took the students in groups of ten to start working on their PSA. Step one was to record the narration. I encouraged the students to break the track into "bite-sized" pieces. (In this way, if there is a problem, the student can re-record just the problem section.)

By the end of the morning, every student had created a file, and started recording his/her narration. Some had even begun adding music and sound effects!

Because the keeners may finish far ahead of of the rest of the class, students who are done early will have the option of creating additional versions for their disaster. Two weeks from now, we plan to present each student's finished work to the entire class, and then upload the PSAs to a class website for parents to view.

Here are the links to see some of their work:

(This first link will allow students and parents to download the shows as podcasts to iTunes and load onto their iPods.)

VIEW on-line
(This link is so parents can view the finished projects on-line.)

One of the "tricks" to using Youtube to display student work is to create a tag and description that is made up of an invented word (i.e. "gradefourweatherprojecthometeachername" ). I've labeled all the videos with the same tag, then added them to a playlist with the same title as the invented word, and shared this a public playlist. The playlist will generate an embed code so you can put it on an external webpage: voilĂ .

Some additional things to consider:
  1. Students will want to make sure their "end of recording" marker is snug up against the end of their podcast on the time line. A couple of students unknowingly had created a 20 minute production with 18 minutes of blank space at the end of their PSA!
  2. If students are adding art work or images to the top "podcast/image" track, make sure the pics are pushed up against each other, otherwise there will be black screen intervals throughout the podcast.
  3. Students can create an "album cover" that will show up when their work is downloaded as a podcast. If they want to see the cover when their PSA is played in class, leave a little blank space at the beginning of the "podcast/image" track.