Tag: 21st Century Skills

Podcast In The Classroom With WeVideo – Get Started Today!

Posted on July 2, 2018 by

Podcast In The Classroom With WeVideo – Get Started Today!

I just finished filming a Google hangout with WeVideo for their Video Creator Rockstars group about how to use it to podcast in the classroom (blush) and it was so much fun, I wanted to share some of my podcasting tips with you!

The theory behind podcasting for students:

  • Give students a voice, choice, and agency
    • Teaching students require relationships, connections, and showing kids that you value what they are learning and how they learn it. Podcasting allows kids’ voice to come through on things they think are really important.
  • Teaching skills for the future
    • Podcasting is one of the communication tools of the future. Podcasts are a new frontier – and the possibilities are endless! Teaching podcasting allows students to practice the 4c’s of future-ready students: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity.
  • Creating a platform for the entire year – and beyond!
    • Teachers could think of podcasting as a platform for sharing student thinking all year long – or in smaller chunks of units and lesson assessment.

The impact you see in kids making a podcast:

  • Excitement! Engagement! Creativity! Collaboration! Critical thinking! Communication! Fun!
    • When my class is podcasting it’s BUSY – and kids don’t want to leave the room! Don’t be afraid to have the whole class recording all at once – you can make inexpensive recording studios (see below), create a sign up sheet, scaffold in stations, use a closet for recording, or just accept that it’s not going to be perfect studio quality sound – it’s real-life background noise!
  • The belief that they could ‘do’ this – confidence building
    • When students can show what they know in different ways, it turns them into possibilitarians – they believe in themselves and their ability to shine.
  • Pride – positive peer feedback
    • When kids can share their thinking, with pride and control over the final product, and receive feedback from their peers, they are PROUD of their learning!
  • Storytelling – thinking through concept, creating an outline, following narrative arc
    • It’s important for kids to start with some sort of idea rather than just going off the cuff in their podcast. The trick is to not OVER SCRIPT – which happens. I like to have kids listen to and analyze podcasts for the storytelling elements, and see what they like and what they could duplicate in their own podcast.
  • The realization that it isn’t/doesn’t have to be perfect the first time – revision, doing it the best they can
    • Growth mindset? YES! Using their phones, WeVideo, and creating take after take helps strengthen the idea that life isn’t always done in one ‘take’ – redoing, rethinking, and revising are future ready skills we want our students to adopt.

Low budget ways to set up a recording studio:

  • Cardboard boxes and packaging tape
    • This is seriously low budget, but I think if kids start here they could come up with creative ways to modify their box to meet their needs.
  • Plastic milk crates with 12×12 foam
    • This method involves a bit of money, but not much. Amazon sells foam squares that are perfect liners!
  • iPhones, microphones, headphones
    • Not necessary, but if you’re doing long-term podcasting it’s a nice investment.
  • Beanbags as buffers
    • Something about covering their box in beanbags (pillows would work, too) not only made for better sound quality but provided a safe space for insecure first-time podcasters!
  • Tablecloth or sheets for kids to ‘hide’ under when recording
    • Some kids really like no one seeing them…and helps a bit with the sound quality.

Coming up with topics:

  • That’s up to the kids – it needs to be generated by them.
    • I like using our essential questions as a springboard, and then let them take it in any direction they like. They really should have ownership of the content!
  • Let them listen to lots of podcasts to engage their interest and teach them what a podcast IS.
    • Common Sense Media has lots of good suggestions for all grade levels.
    • Consider taking a poll on a Google form with any podcasts they currently listen to (see my hyperdoc for some ideas).
  • Consider making a year-long podcast that they can add to at intervals
    • I’m considering using podcasts as a requirement for them with each literature/novel unit. I could also see adding to it with their book recommendations, suggestions for next year’s students, or just sharing exciting news about being a teen!

The impact I saw on students:

  • Students were excited! Empowered!
    • They felt like they were really getting their voice out to the world…to other students. They said it was the best assignment they’d ever done!
  • Collaboration
    • I had a group of four who divided work into script writing, recording, being the ‘special guest’ and one doing most of the tech work
    • Another cool thing that happened was students who wanted to work alone ended up finding guest interviewees- their parents! I thought that was a cool way to expand the project.
  • Gives students a different avenue to show what they know.
    • Showing their passions really gave me insight into them as a person, and in fact, inspired me to encourage them to keep their podcast going!
    • It makes your textbook come alive! Use podcasts for assessment – use the tips in your textbook teachers edition for ideas, and then go from there!

Tips and tricks:

  • Don’t be afraid to start.
    • It doesn’t have to be perfect – making mistakes and figuring things out is part of the process.
    • Let your students teach you (and other students) all the tricks and tips THEY learn!
  • Better listening if it’s conversational – not too scripted.
    • Use an outline (see my hyperdoc for an example) and break it up into different segments. Long talking/reading gets boring. Encourage them to break it up with music, sound effects or switching topics.
  • Pairs are better than singles.
    • Most kids who worked alone tended to read a script and it sounded like an audiobook, not a conversational podcast.
  • Use Padlet to share links
    • This allowed all students to listen to their peers and ‘see’ what others were thinking. You could require them to listen to For long-term curation, consider using a Google Site that can be accessed publicly. You could also create a Google classroom and share the link with the kids to add their content.
  • Try a Podcast hyperdoc – (click the link to use mine!)
    • Hyperdocs gives the examples, an outline, scaffolding ideas, a rubric, opportunities to share publicly, and most importantly, a reflection form. Letting kids share what worked, what they would change, what they learned is crucial to help them think through the learning process.
    • Mini-deadlines are key!
  • Graphics are not needed
    • Unless they’re going to submit for RSS and syndicate their podcast publicly.
  • Let kids play with voices
    • For emphasis, for creativity, for adding interest to the topic being discussed!
  • Try a podcasting ‘field trip’ – 826 Valencia is one option
    • Submit kids podcasts to ‘real-life’ podcasters – and ask for feedback!
  • When kids get stuck…
    • Encourage them to problem solve it themselves. I like the “3 before me” rule…

Overcoming fears:

  • Kids don’t like to hear their voices…get over it
    • Honestly, this was the only fear I heard. Some struggled with workflow (they got so caught up in their ideas they didn’t get started). 
  • Keeping the momentum going
    • Divide up the responsibility. Create the podcast as a backchannel, and let the kids take over!

Rallying other teachers at your school:

  • Get it started
    • The other teachers will join you when they see your students excited!
  • Start a book podcast
    • Get the librarian or other English teachers to take it over and have genre months, author spotlights
  • Start a whole school podcast
    • Different departments could take over each month
  • Start a podcast for your program
    • AVID, SPED, GATE – share your specific stories

Excited to do a podcast? Here’s a link to my first blog post: http://jenniferwolfe.net/2018/05/podcasting.html

Here’s a link to my ‘Approaching Adulthood’ Padlet of podcasts: https://padlet.com/jwolfe14/x3u4y3gxt4or

Remember: Happy teachers will change the world! When you’re happy, your students know it – and it’s contagious. You’ll have a fun job and you’ll be giving students real-life transferable skills. You’ll show your students that they matter, that you SEE them. Our students have a voice – creating platforms for our kids to share are the best gift we can give our students!


Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Indonesian school

Teaching In Jakarta, Indonesia, During Ramadan

Posted on May 26, 2017 by

*This is an update of posts chronicling my teaching in Jakarta, Indonesia, during Ramadan. As part of the U.S. State Department of Education’s IREX program, 10 teachers and I spent two weeks traveling, teaching, and creating friendships with Indonesian students. This trip was life-changing for me as a woman and a teacher; so many stereotypes of the Muslim religion and Ramadan were altered due to my ability to meet the Indonesian students, teachers, and families and observe what their daily life was like, what they valued, and how many similarities American and Indonesian teens share. As today is the start of Ramadan, I’d like to share some of my experiences traveling in a Muslim country during their most holy time. I’d love to hear your stories of international travel and how it has changed your world, too.
Arriving in Jakarta during Ramadan was really exciting – after three flights and countless hours of layovers and sitting upright, I was ready to explore.  The Indonesian language is difficult to decipher, so I followed the crowd to get bags, exchange money, and find our guide, Lilia.

I had heard about the infamous Jakarta traffic and prepared for the 36 km, nearly two-hour drive from the airport to the hotel.  Indonesia is 14 hours ahead of California, so we essentially missed Wednesday and arrived on Thursday.

Indonesian breakfast

Indonesian breakfast

After an interesting breakfast – Indonesians eat rice at every meal, as well as meats and seafood – we headed off to our guide’s public school – SMP 49 in east Jakarta. During Ramadan I wasn’t sure I’d be able to eat or drink much, so I fueled up!

As we drove into the school, we were greeted by students hanging over the railings and the teachers and administrator in the parking lot.  We were surprised to learn that it was a school holiday for the start of Ramadan, yet the students and teachers came to school anyways just to meet us.  They made us feel like celebrities as we exited our bus!

Indonesia school

 We began with a faculty meeting to discuss global education and get to know each other.  It was interesting that the principal began and ended the meeting with prayers. Indonesia

We spent the next hour working in classrooms.  To our surprise, the English teacher wanted us to teach his students, so we launched into a discussion about our schools, families, and culture of America.  Notice the uniforms in this 8th grade English classroom – especially the sneakers!  My partner, Amy, is from Chico, California, and we had prepared a Prezi on her iPad which really came in handy.

The classrooms were sparsely decorated and moderately air conditioned.  Students here test into the school, so they are considered high-achieving.  They are extremely fluent in English, although some are reluctant to speak.  It was interesting to me that a student leader rose when we entered, then asked the rest of the class to do the same.  They greeted us, said a prayer, then took their seats.
Indonesian school

Indonesian school

They are fascinated with American teens and really loved hearing about our own kids and students.  They said they love Twitter and American movies!
Everywhere we went and everything we did they documented with video and photos – the teachers are so eager to learn about what American classrooms are like and how we teach.  I was impressed with the emphasis on behavior and respect, as evidenced by signs all around the school.

I was touched by how delighted the school was with our visit, and how honored and respected they made us feel.  I really think that these students and teachers have so much in common with us in the US – they want to learn, improve and have great hope for their futures. We left with happy hearts and new connections to help us learn to be better global citizens.

Typical meal at Ramadan breaking the fast

Typical meal at Ramadan breaking the fast

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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STEM in Education and The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge

Posted on March 21, 2016 by

If you haven’t heard, STEM in education is all the rage. Training in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math is our 21st-century challenge in schools, and all educators are responsible – even English teachers like me. According to the Occupational Outlook Quarterly, “Employment in occupations related to STEM—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022. That’s an increase of about 1 million jobs over 2012 employment levels.” In the next decade, STEM jobs are projected to grow more quickly and pay higher than any other type of employment- many in technology.

And that’s my job – helping to produce young adults who are educated, confident and employable in the new work force, preparing them for jobs that are likely not even in existence right now.

No big deal, right?


STEM in education

After 25 years in education, I’m learning a whole new way of teaching kids to read, write, speak, listen and collaborate – crucial skills for this generation of future workers. It’s not easy. It requires dedication, time, and an ability to open my mind to new ways of thinking – just like we’re asking our young men and women to do when they study STEM subjects in school. It’s not just about becoming skilled in math and science, however, learning how to think critically and communicate effectively are necessary skills for workers who will have to collaborate on long-term projects and communicate their findings upon completion.

Teachers like me need to help this generation advance STEM in education using the tools we have available. We need to train teachers to use technology in the classroom and how to step away from the teacher-dominated lectures towards a student-centered inquiry-based class. We need to encourage kids to develop grit and determination, and how to explore the ‘what-if’ and ‘I wonder’ questions rather than bubbling in a predetermined multiple choice answer. Our

This is no small task, to be sure.

One way teachers and parents are able to encourage kids to develop a love for STEM in education is through The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, the nation’s premier science competition for grades 5-8. Through the program, young inventors have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work closely with a 3M Scientist Mentor, compete for $25,000, and earn the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist.” The mission of the Young Scientist Challenge is to foster a new generation of American scientists at an age when interest in science generally declines. In 2008, Discovery Education teamed up with 3M, one of the world’s most notable innovators – to cultivate the next generation of problem solvers and give students an opportunity to receive mentorship from 3M scientists.

How the Challenge Works:

• Call for entries is currently open through April, 20, 2016. To enter, participants must submit a one-to-two-minute video describing the science behind a new innovation or solution that could solve or impact an everyday problem.

• Judges evaluate the entries through April and May based on creativity, scientific knowledge, persuasiveness and overall presentation. Videos will not be judged on production skills and may be recorded on cell phones or basic digital cameras.

• Ten finalists are announced in the summer. These participants will be challenged to develop their innovations that positively impacts lives (including them, their family, their community or the global population). The students will participate in a mentorship program during which they will get the opportunity to work one-on-one with renowned 3M scientists as their mentors.

• Each finalist will also receive a trip to the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minn., to compete at the final event in October 2016. The grand prize is $25,000 and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend a Discovery Network taping.

• Since its inception, the Young Scientist Challenge has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in student scholarships and prizes, paired students with world-renowned scientists to give them real-world insights and delivered much-needed resources to millions of students, teachers and families across the country. Previous winners have met the President of the United States, addressed Congress and been featured in Forbes magazine’s annual “30 Under 30” list.

• The 2015 winner, Hannah Herbst of Boca Raton, Fla., created an energy probe prototype that seeks to offer a stable power source to developing countries. She entered the contest because she wanted to help her 9-year-old pen pal living in Ethiopia who lacks a reliable source of power and electricity.

Other recent winners include:

o Sahil Doshi, 2014, who created a battery cell that uses carbon dioxide and other waste materials to help clear the atmosphere of greenhouse gas emissions. His project was spotlighted in the U.S. State Department’s Exhibit at the UN Conference on Climate Change, and he presented his project to President Obama.

o Peyton Robertson, 2013, who created a more efficient sandbag to reduce salt water flood damage. Peyton has since received a Notice of Allowance on his first patent.

For more information on the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge:

For more information on the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, including submission guidelines, tips from previous winners and complete rules, please visit www.youngscientistchallenge.com. Submissions will be accepted through April 13, 2016.

 This is a sponsored post on behalf of 3M. All opinions stated are my own. 
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34402227@N03/9080098737 via photopin (license)
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34402227@N03/9080098737 via photopin (license)

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Not Empty Vessels: 21st Century Learning and the Common Core

Posted on April 28, 2013 by

Are today’s teens really empty vessels? I think not. Today I’m excited to be presenting at the California League of Middle Schools Spring Symposium. The conference’s focus is “Implementing the Common Core“, which is an area I’ve been working on for the last several years. In 2011 I was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to study global learning and 21st century skills which culminated in a teaching trip to Indonesia, and ever since I’ve been hooked on integrating real life skills and global education into my classroom. I’d love to share my ideas and help you learn to move your kids into the 21st century, whether you’re a teacher or parent.

What’s All the Talk About 21st Century Skills?

I LOVE this video from Sir Ken Robinson, who I consider a guru of modern education. If you’ve never seen an ARA Animate video, you’re in for a treat!

Economics play a huge part in globalization. Parents and teachers want to prepare kids to enter the changing job markets, but we don’t really know for sure what the economy will look like when they enter the work force. Countries also want to figure out how to hang onto cultural identity while preparing the next generation to work in a shrinking world, where it is necessary to interact with people from many different cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds.

The problem is that our education system is trying to meet the changing needs of our world by doing things the same way they’ve always been done. And as Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

What are 21st century skills?

English: Framework for 21st Century Learning

English: Framework for 21st Century Learning (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

21st century skills student outcomes (in the rainbow) explore life and career skills, learning and innovation skills, information, media and technology skills, and core subjects with 21st century themes-current events and topics that are impacting our world. The support systems (in the pools) are ways that education systems can help foster the skills; schools use standards and assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional development and stimulating learning environments to help students prepare for college and career readiness.

What’s the connection between the Common Core and 21st century skills?

Some of the strongest areas of alignment between the Common Core and 21st Century Skills come in the English/Language Arts and Math areas. For example, when we look at the ELA standards below (black) against the P21 skills (red), we can easily understand not only the necessity of 21st century skills, but the absolute ease with which educator and parents can weave them into curriculum.

P21 Framework Element against CCSSELA College and Career Ready Definition

 Core Subjects = Build strong content knowledge

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving = Respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline

Communication = Comprehend as well as critique

 Information Literacy = Value evidence

Self Direction = Demonstrate independence

 Global Awareness = Come to understand other perspectives and cultures

Information, Media and Technology Skills = Use technology and digital media strategically and capably

How will 21st century skills help graduates find jobs?

In the 21st century, automation will take over many current jobs, forcing workers to make themselves more valuable in the marketplace. How will they do that? The Center for Computational Thinking at Carnegie Mellon University  believes that by educating our students in computational thinking we can create students who are ready to enter careers upon graduation. According to Carnegie Mellon, “Computational thinking means creating and making use of different levels of abstraction, to understand and solve problems more effectively.” Individuals will need to learn to manipulate data and understand how to communicate beyond just text.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, of the ten fastest growing jobs, five are computer related.

What is global education?

“Global competence is a crucial shift in our understanding of the purpose of education in a changing world.” – Anthony Jackson, Asia Society.

Global education is preparing our students to be college and career ready in the 21st century. According to Tony Jackson, globally competent students must have the knowledge and skills to Investigate the World, Weigh Perspectives, Communicate Ideas, Take Action, and Apply Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Expertise. As technology and travel shrink our world, we need to prepare our students to live, learn, and work with people from all over the planet. Our economies, national security, and the literal future of our environment depend now more than ever on these skills.

Investigate the World

Globally competent students ask and explore critical questions and “researchable” problems – problems for which there may not be one right answer, but can be systematically engaged intellectually and emotionally.

Weigh Perspectives

Globally competent students recognize that they have a particular perspective, and that others may or may not share it.

Communicate Ideas.

Globally competent students understand that audiences differ on the basis of culture, geography, faith, ideology, wealth, and other factors and that they may perceive different meanings from the same information.

Take Action.

Globally competent students see themselves as players, not bystanders.  They see themselves as capable of making a difference.

Apply Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Expertise.

Learning content matters. Globally competent students are lifelong learners.

Is the Common Core just another trend?

There’s debate among educators about what value the Common Core really holds in our education system. As explained in Edutopia’s article, “Two Paths: How Will You See The Common Core”, educators fall into two camps: those who believe that the Common Core is just a revamped version of No Child Left Behind, and others who see it as an opportunity to leverage real growth in our education system. Those leaders who take the latter view see the common core as having three distinct benefits: Aligning the Common Core standards to 21st-century skills and deeper learning outcomes, capacity-building through professional development, and new assessment strategies. I believe that if we take this opportunity to move in a new direction, and keep a balanced approach to education, the Common Core really can provide a foundational structure to creating college and career ready graduates who enjoy learning and are thinking critically about their future, as well as the impact they can make on the world at large.

For more information on Common Core and Global Education, contact us:

Jennifer Wolfe



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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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