Podcast Assignment (Part 2 of ?)

The first round of podcasts from my composition class – reflections on at least one text from our class readings – were impressive. I learned a lot about my students: personal and background information that touched upon our class themes/topics, interpretations and connections with texts that had not come out in class, and the beginnings (for some) of larger projects. The second round of podcasts is more argument- and research-driven; students have to articulate a thesis, use research (including at least one scholarly source) to make their case, and conduct interviews. We informally called the first round of podcasts the “shooting the shit” pieces: the second round of podcasts demands a much clearer design plan and a lot more technological literacy. Most students could just record the first podcast on their smartphones and upload them using the Dropbox app, but they will need to become familiar with Audacity or some sort of editing tool of their choosing this time.

To start, students had to establish their topic and narrow it as necessary. We went to the library orientation and had a lengthier discussion in class about finding relevant sources. Students had to pitch their thesis and an abbreviated statement of purpose to the whole class for feedback: this was an incredibly productive activity, and I wish I had allotted even more time for it. Several students suggested sources (both from personal encounters and from other coursework), or posed questions that made the presenter elaborate on their position or forced them to consider how they could better defend their thesis. They then began compiling a research narrative, wherein they linked each source to their thesis and – in the process- generated talking points for their podcast. They are now working on folding in ethos, logos, and pathos into their pieces (drawing on the models presented by Anne Francis Wysocki and Dennis A. Lynch in Compose, Design, Advocate) and the interview plan, where they generate questions, establish their subjects, and prepare interview waivers. We will have a peer review of the design plan (consisting of the statement of purpose & thesis; research narrative; ethos, pathos, and logos; and interview plans) next week, and students will then begin conducting interviews, recording their narrative, and editing the podcast.

Here’s the Prezi I created to guide them through the overall project:

Tweaks or suggestions are always appreciated. I’ll be presenting on podcasting in the composition classroom with colleague Dominique Zino at CUNY’s CUE Conference tomorrow, so more changes/modifications might be forthcoming after that – and, of course, once I reflect on the semester after it’s all over.


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