Paradise podcast fueled by young contributors’ enthusiasm

By Mark Squibb | May 16, 2021

Students at Paradise Elementary have caught the podcast bug.

Paradise Elementary teacher and host Peter Constantine is joined each week by students who help co-host the show. Episode segments include a weather forecast, jokes of the week, a Meet the Creature segment (the creatures just happen to be teachers whom students’ interview), reading tips, science facts, trivia and school news and updates.

For those not familiar, a podcast is similar to a radio program, except they can be downloaded over the internet and streamed at the user’s convenience and have become popular over the last decade.

Constantine said the school was in receipt of about $5,000 in provincial funding to be used for books, furniture, and technology.

“I have gotten into listening to podcasts over the last year or two, especially during lockdown,” said Constantine. “And when I was shopping online to spend some of this government grant that we had, I found this podcast kit. And I said that might be something neat to start with the students and incorporate it in some deep learning projects.”

The kit included a speaker system and a professional mic. Constantine uses the free, user-friendly Anchor app to edit and upload the podcasts.

“I didn’t know how successful it was going to be, but I was willing to give it a try and we’ve gotten a lot of really good, positive feedback on it,” said Constantine. “And students have really enjoyed it.”

One of the lengthier segments is the Meet the Creature segment, wherein students get to interview their teachers.

“I give the teacher the heads up and ask if they’re interested in appearing on the podcast, and I talk with their classes, and ask them, ‘What kind of questions can you ask your teacher, so that the school community gets to know them better?’” said Constantine. “So, I’ll usually pop in, and we’ll brainstorm some questions to ask, and I’ll come back maybe the next day or a couple of days later, and maybe 10 students in the class each get to ask one question for the podcast. And the people who didn’t get to ask a question for our Meet the Creature segment, maybe they can tell a joke for our joke segment. Which may appear on that very same podcast, or I’ll save that segment for a future podcast.”

Constantine said that every grade in the school has been involved in the podcast, and that February’s lockdown— which could have put a temporary end to the podcast— actually helped get more students involved.

“The most recent shut down enabled us to reach more students, more often,” said Constantine. “Because prior to that I was inviting say two or three students down to the library and we would do a small interview, or I would have just one joke of the week. But when we went online, we were meeting through Google Meets, and so I was able to get five or six students to tell a joke, or have five or six students contribute all at the one time, so we’ve actually gotten more student engagement because of the most recent shutdown, and we’ve continued that since we’ve returned to school.”

In fact, students are making recommendations — and some even want to make their own podcasts.

“Three Grade six boys want to do a sports podcast,” said Constantine. “So, I showed them how it works, and they signed up for their accounts using their school accounts, and they borrowed the podcast kit and using some of the technology we have here at school, they recorded The Sound of Sports. So, the Sound of Sports is by three grade six students who want to give updates of the NBA and NHL and NFL and all those leagues. So, they wrote a script and put together their own podcast that they want to make weekly. Another Grade six student approached me for this week’s podcast and suggested a ‘on this date’ type of segment. So, I met with him, and he found out three facts that are for tomorrow’s episode, and he recorded that, and that’ll be another reoccurring segment that we have.”

The podcast, said Constantine, is a way for students to share their opinions and experience, and gives them a unique platform to talk about things that are important to them.

The podcast is available for anyone to listen to on Anchor or Spotify, or through the school’s website.

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