Whenever I have an evaluation scheduled my first idea is to construct a lesson that centers on a discussion: it isn’t teacher-centered; it allows students to be leaders in the classroom; it encourages divergent thinking; it causes students to explore what truly interests them, providing them choice and freedom. What can an evaluator say about those things? It reaches almost every objective of Danielson’s domains for teacher efficacy.
My favorite question when being evaluated is: how do you know each student is learning? It’s a great question, something that often plagues me with discussions. When you have whole class discussions, what about the students who aren’t participating? How do you know they are learning? Why aren’t they sharing? Is it because they don’t have something to contribute? Is it because they are shy?
What I hear from a lot of my students is that they want to share but have a hard time asserting themselves in such a large setting. So I try the fishbowl technique. They still don’t share and assert it is because they feel insecure with people watching. I’ve tried many different types of discussion formats but few have really held the students, all students, truly accountable. I knew the problem: I had to create a small group setting that allowed all students to feel comfortable and prepared to participate. Then, during one of my 2-hour commutes home and listening to a podcast I had downloaded from ITunes, it hit me: have them record podcasts, which is essentially a small group discussion recorded in MP3 format.
This week we will be detailing the implementation of the podcast project in an English classroom. While we are high school teachers, this is an assignment that can easily be replicated in any grade-level and, in fact, any discipline. We will provide resources on how to introduce podcasts, sample projects to use in your classroom, and ways to actually record the podcast.