This week, I've been familiarizing myself with the art of podcasting.  Having worked in radio, 
I've developed an ear for audio that's been well-executed.  That being said, though, I'd never really listened to a podcast, per se, until a few days ago and I'm not really sure why that is. 
I know the power of the human voice, and now, after listening to only a few podcasts, I know the power of podcasting.  Like radio announcers, podcasters have to express complete thoughts in as few words as possible.  Stated a different way, every word a podcaster says has to count, otherwise his or her message could quickly become meaningless and/or muddled.  Podcasters can also incorporate sound effects and music into their recordings but they must choose those elements carefully so that they compliment the overall tone of the podcast.  

Here is a review of three podcasts that I have recently listened to, all of which are very different in style and delivery.   

Big Ideas by TVO: Graeme Gibson on our human connection to nature - This particular podcast was posted on April 27, 2012 and it can be found by following this link.  The Big Ideas series features guest speakers who discuss various aspects of culture, history, economics, and politics.  I found this podcast from the Higher Education category in i-Tunes; the audio was taken from a lecture Canadian novelist Graeme Gibson delivered titled "Echoes of a Working Eden."  In this podcast, Gibson discusses how humans have abandoned nature, due to reasons such as the increasing amount of technology, urbanization, and domestication in today's society.  This topic resonates deeply with me because I, too, believe that humans, especially children, are very much disconnected from our natural world, or suffer from what Gibson calls 'nature deficit disorder' (N.D.D.)  Although Gibson's voice is the only source of audio in this podcast, Gibson was able to maintain my interest throughout the podcast by incorporating personal memoirs, quotes from other authors, and strategically placed humour.    Some statements from this podcast that really stood out to me were:

"Technology is a way of organizing the world so that humans don't have to experience it."

"The Oxford Junior Dictionary has dropped nature words from their most latest edition.  Blackberry, the fruit, is gone, and so is beaver, dandelion, heron, magpie, otter, acorn, clover, ivy, and willow.  Partial replacements include blackberry - the phone, blog, MP3 player, voicemail, and broadband."

"Human food is composed of souls... some animals' lives have no purpose other than to die for human consumption."

Other important (and more positive) aspects of this podcast are when Gibson talks about how his parrot, Harold, identified himself as one of Gibson's children, and how "forest bathing" has been proven to have many health benefits such as lowering stress and blood pressure, improving behavioural issues, and strengthening the immune system.  Gibson also references many books, articles, and authors, which, I'm sure, would be great resources for teachers to use to help implement environmental education in their classrooms.  This podcast is a real eye... er... I mean ear opener! Please take the time to listen to it and pass its message(s) on.  

Willowdale Elementary School's Willowcasts -
Will Richardson highly recommends Willowdale Elementary School's podcasts in his book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, so I figured I should have a listen.  I chose to listen to Willowcast #26, which was created by a Grade Three class.  It's called "Explore the World of Sound."  The podcast is hosted by two students, who facilitate the discussion, and it features the other classmates in various segments like Poetry Corner, Vocabulary Theatre, Wonderful Websites, and Did You Know?  The students do a fantastic job in sharing the mic and presenting their material; they obviously spent a lot of time preparing their parts and making sure that it flowed from one segment to the other.   

This podcast is very creative in that it is informative and funny at the same time.  It incorporates music and sound effects throughout the recording.  Whoever wrote the script for this podcast and edited it created a nice balance between words and sounds.  My favourite part is when they have a spring sound after each joke is told - it adds a nice touch because sometimes jokes aren't conveyed that easily when you can't see the person who is telling them.  I really respect the teacher of this class, Mrs. Huryta, for finding a fun way for her students to learn about the senses and, also, to represent this learning.  I am definitely going to listen to the other Willowcasts that they have posted.  Projects like this podcast really help me to get over my fear of using technology in the classroom.  I can't wait to make podcasts with my students!

Explore Music - This is another podcast that I found through iTunes; it's under the Music category.  What drew me to it was that it features music of and interviews with new and upcoming musicians.  I am always looking for new bands to listen to so hopefully these podcasts will help me find some gooders!  The Explore Music podcasts are hosted by several Canadian radio personalities and they follow the basic format of a live radio interview except there aren't any commercials (yay!) I have subscribed to the Explore Music podcasts so, that way, whenever a new one is published it will automatically download to my iTunes.  Here's a few videos from the bands that I have discovered on Explore Music, so far.
5/25/2012 03:24:08

My best friend's band toured with Yukon Blonde way back when they were still Alpha Baby so I have spent some time with them when they were here in Regina. Really good guys and really talented musicians! You can check out a couple of their older songs here http://music.cbc.ca/#/artists/Alpha-Baby

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5/25/2012 08:42:16

Awesome! Thanks Miss W! You are becoming one of my favourite blogging buddies - you always help me out and give me great resources :)

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