Teacher Development Grant 2022-2023 Project Summary
Dalton Junior High School • Dalton, GA
“Speak Up Whitfield” is a project that develops a community of teachers who podcast with their students in grades 3-12 throughout Whitfield County in northwest Georgia, including 33 schools in total. SUW has three components: teacher training, pod-partnerships (with other classrooms and community programs), and the Speak Up Whitfield yearly podcast competition. Podcasts develop soft skills, research and content skills, STEM skills, and most of all, they help create an understanding of different cultures and student experiences. This project will empower teachers to reach hundreds of students and these skills will better prepare these students for success in college and careers, while increasing engagement and depth of learning.
The project begins with bringing teachers together for a training on the process of podcasting and helping each participant to create a 2-minute podcast from beginning to end so he or she can take this process back to the department/school. The training also focuses on curriculum and unit planning, audio storytelling critique, technology, editing, and sharing the creations. Media specialists, student leaders, and partnering teachers who have podcasted with their students in a pilot program will also contribute to the training. At the end leaders will mentor the participating teachers over their first year of implementation. Project leaders will help participants understand the types of microphones their students will need, how podcasting connects to their grade/content curriculum, and how to edit the material students collect for a finished product using a program that will fit their budget/technology availability. Each teacher will tailor their Speak Up project to their classroom, content, students, and technology situation. Speak Up Whitfield aims to not only helps students develop 21st century skills but it also to invite partnerships between teachers and students in different schools, between teachers and students’ families, and between classrooms and community organizations.
Each podcasting classroom involved in the project will form pod-partnerships with other teachers and community leaders through interviewing, panel discussions, and community podcast projects. Once a year, the community will come together for a 12 hour podcasting marathon called “Run Your Mouth” where all ages create community podcasts in a 12-hour period. Community partners (Mack Gaston Center, Whitfield County Library, Dalton Innovation Accelerator, and Dalton State College) will open pod spaces so that teachers, students, and community members can work in different parts of the city.
Project leaders will set up a website for the project so that teachers can share their class and community podcasts, connect online for project sharing, reflection, and support. The final step of the project will be hosting a yearly Speak Up Whitfield podcast competition with Top 10 winners in three categories: 5th-8th grades, 9th-12th grades, and teacher/staff. The teacher/staff category will encourage teachers to podcast alongside their students, while inviting all schools to come together with the community to celebrate the winners.
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