Friday, 15 February 2019

In Production

This week all of the classes were busy, busy, busy on our big radio project!  Students were writing scripts, voicing scripts, and editing audio.  The ideas that are bouncing around are amazing!

Highlights from this week's classes:
  • Students who were initially uncomfortable with recording their own voices are giving it a try and doing really well!
  • The number of students who have asked "After I do this radio segment can I do... (insert amazing and creative idea for a new radio segment here)?"  By the way, the answer is a great big "YES!"
  • The interesting collaborations that are popping up.  Kids are approaching each other to work together on different radio segments; it is very cool to observe!
Here are some examples of the radio segments students are working on:
  •  A radio drama that is the retelling of a classic fairy tale (two students directing and producing, with another six involved as voice actors.)
  • A number of fake (and funny!) ads 
  • Jokes and Riddles
  • The history of one of the original six NHL hockey teams
  • A debate show (two students directing and producing with two on air debaters)
  • An investigative report on the real story behind a classic fairy tale
  • The story of a fictitious hockey team
 Below are some photos of the radio producers at work (link).

Radio Show Name

Over 40 radio show names were submitted by students and Ms. Thompson.  This week students voted on their first and second choices.  Ultimately Ms. Thompson will decide on the name, but she wanted to have a good idea of which names appealed to the students.  The big reveal will happen next week and then we can get down to designing a logo, website, jingle... and all the other branding that a radio show would normally have!

Update on Station IDs

In the past few weeks the grade 4 and 5 students recorded Station IDs for Peach City Community Radio - CFUZ.  This gave them the opportunity to practice:
  • using the field recorders
  • voicing a script
  • transferring audio from the field recorder to their computer
  • editing the audio in Audacity
  • exporting the audio as an MP3 file
Some of those Station IDs are now playing out on Peach City Community Radio; they sound very professional!

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Beginning To Make Radio!

The students have spent many weeks learning how to use the field microphones and how to edit audio.  This week we began putting those skills to work.  This week students began creating their own content for our radio show!

Content Creation

Students started researching topics and creating scripts for the radio segments they wish to produce.  Some students are working alone, while others have formed small groups to work on a project.  Radio segments on the following topics are being produced:
  • jokes and riddles
  • facts about animals
  • fake ads
  • a fractured fairly tale
  • hockey
  • soccer
  • comedy / debate show
Some of these segments will be fairly quick to produce, while others will be longer endeavors.  I can't wait to hear the finished products!

It was quite exciting to see students dive into creating audio content!  Below are a few photos of the students at work (link).

Radio Show Name

We are working on coming up with a radio show name.  Students can still submit names here.  Once we've got a name it will be time to start branding -- logos, jingles, you name it!

Thanks for checking in to see what we've been up to... This Week In Gifted!

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Snow Day and Radio

We've had two weeks of classes since I last posted.  Here are a few of the things we've been doing.

Let it Snow!

Wednesday January 23rd arrived with a big new dump of snow.  The morning class made the most of the sticky snow, constructing a pretty big snowman!  Check it out in the slides below (link).

Audio Recording and Editing

All of the classes are working on their recording and audio editing skills.  Each week we usually record a group story.  Students get to practice using the field recorder and everyone's technique is improving.  We have also been learning how to edit audio in Audacity, an open source audio editing program.  Students have been learning how to:
  • import audio
  • cut audio
  • fade in and out
  • add sound effects
  • move audio clips around
  • play with various audio effects such as adding echos, reversing audio, speeding audio up, and many other cool things!
This past week students began working on recording short station IDs, editing them, and exporting the audio in the proper format.  Next week we will finish these up, and then students will dive into producing original audio content that will be part of our radio show!

What's in a Name?

We are working on coming up with a name for our radio show.  The show is focusing issues of interest to kids with content created by kids.  My intention is to continue the show even after our class project is over, with other kids and teens.  On the forms that I sent home a few weeks ago the tentative name for the show was 'The 3 R's; Reading, wRiting, and Radio',  but this is just a placeholder until we come up with a name that really sizzles!  Some of the students have already suggested names, but if they (or their families!) have some other name ideas, please submit therm here.

Ready, Set, Design!

On January 23rd the Wednesday morning class did another 'Ready, Set, Design' challenge.  (At the beginning of January, all of the classes had tried a similar challenge which you can read about here. )
The challenge: design a way to collect and transport water.
The materials: 2 balloons, 3 popsicle sticks, a long length of yarn
The goal is to use the materials to make a prototype that will meet the challenge.  It is great to see the creative ways that students interpret the challenge and use the materials.  The discussions during the design and construction phase are really interesting.  At the end of the 15 minute time limit students present and talk about their design.  Assistant Superintendent Todd Manuel was visiting our class during this activity and enjoyed seeing how the students worked through the challenge.  Check out the slideshow below for pictures of the process (link).

Thanks for checking in to see what we've been up to the past few weeks in Gifted!

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Exploring Audacity

Audio Editing

This week our main focus was to learn how to work with audio using the computer program Audacity.

Students learned how to:
  • download audio files from both the sd67 portal and from sound effects websites
  • import audio into Audacity
  • cut sections of audio
  • add a second audio track
  • move audio tracks
A screenshot showing audio tracks in Audacity.
Students chose one of the audio recordings of the 'When Suddenly...' stories we had made in earlier classes and then chose sounds effects to go with the stories.  The emphasis was on exploring and learning new skills and not trying to come up with a final polished product.  

We are using Audacity because the school district has it on its list of approved software, but it would be my first choice anyway since it has lots of great functions and it is free, open source software.  If any of the students really gets into working with audio, they can download a free copy for Mac, Linux or Windows.  See the Audacity tab on this website for more info as well as short some short video tutorials on how to do the basics in Audacity.

Microphone Skills and Storytelling

This week we tried a different storytelling activity called 'Once Upon A Time'.  Before starting the story each person was asked to think of a person, place or thing.  We then went around the class with each person contributing a sentence to the story, but they had to include their person place or thing in the story.  It was pretty fun and we got some interesting stories!  We recorded the stories again using the field recorder.  Students are getting quite good at holding the microphone the correct distance from their mouth and at a good angle so as to avoid getting popping sounds (plosives). 

Coming Up

Pretty soon students will be ready to do their own recordings and editing them.  That's when things will really get interesting!

Thanks for checking in to see what we've been up to.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Ready, Set, Design!

This week was our first time together for over a month -- I think it is safe to say that we were all pretty excited to get back into the groove!  We also welcomed three new students to the program -- I'm optimistic that we didn't scare them off and that they will be with us next week too...   

When Suddenly...

We combined learning how to use the field recorder and practicing our storytelling skills.  "When suddenly..." is s storytelling activity where each person in the group adds a sentence to the story and ends their bit with the words "when suddenly..."  Students said their part of the story into the field recorder -- we are learning how far away to hold the recorder, at what angle to hold it and how to adjust if we are whispering or yelling.  In the weeks ahead students will learn how to edit audio, starting with editing these stories!

Design Challenge

All of the classes did the Ready, Set, Design Challenge.  It is based on an activity described here.  Each student (or pair) received a paper bag containing a slip of paper with the challenge “I need to keep my hands warm”, as well as 2 paper coffee filters, 3 thin plastic straws, and 3 large paper clips.  With the materials in the bag, students had 15 minutes to come up with a prototype that addressed the challenge.  And it was challenging!  They could use tools to work with the materials, but they couldn't add anything new to the structure (like tape).  The materials were a little difficult to work with, but all of the participants came up with interesting solutions. 

At the end of the 15 minutes students shared their designs with the class.  We had solutions that were similar to mittens or muffs, solutions that involved blowing warm air into the cavity where you placed your hands, a double ended lamp, and so many other possibilities.  There was lots of revising and rethinking during the design process.  The conversations between students were great!  I haven't tried this activity before, but I think it is a keeper!  Below are some photos of students working on their designs (link).

Structure of a Radio Show

In preparation for our big radio project, we listened to the first 8 - 10 minutes of Road Trip Radio Episode 1 (link).  The goal was to get a sense of what a variety style radio show sounds like.  We identified the following parts of the show:
  • introduction with theme music
  • what the show is about
  • fun facts
  • coming up later...
  • interviews
  • you're listening to...
Students are starting to generate ideas about what they'd like to include in our show.  Those who aren't keen to have their voice on radio, can be involved in scripting, recording, editing, sound effects, researching... well you get the picture -- there's a lot more to it then recording your voice!

Coming Up

Over the next few weeks students will be learning how to edit audio and they will be getting more experience with the field recorders.

Thanks for checking in to see what we've been up to!