Extreme Classroom Makeover | Oak Ridge Associated Universities



Alvey’s Students Use Podcasts to Teach Other Gresham Students About the Phases of the Moon

Moon Phases

As the crow flies, the moon is about 240,000 miles from Jenny Alvey’s class at Knoxville’s Gresham Middle School. But thanks to an “Oreo Moon Phase Lab” podcast lesson prepared by Alvey’s technology-savvy sixth-graders, students at Gresham have lunar images at their fingertips. It’s another example of fun and innovative learning by students in Alvey’s class, which was the winner of last year’s inaugural Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ Extreme Classroom Makeover.

The lesson was prepared by 30 precocious students in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) class—a class to help students “go beyond and above” and become future leaders.

“They’ve never done this, ever,” said Alvey. “They’re learning the technical side behind making a podcast and they will teach all of their classmates how to do it. This is going to be posted on my classroom Web site.”

During the visual portion of the lab, students demonstrated the different phases of the moon by manipulating the icing on Oreo cookies. There’s a potential side benefit to the exercise as students may eat any broken Oreos—at the discretion of the teachers, of course!

Students then prepared a step-by-step sequence of events to write the script for their podcast, which will show the other 140 sixth-graders at Gresham how to set up the lab. Finally, students learned voice-editing techniques to create the audio portion of the podcast.

“This makes learning a lot more fun than usual,” said 13-year-old Tony Xing, who said the technologically enhanced classroom has piqued his interest in science. “In elementary school I hated science. I was really excited to start school this year. When I grow up I might like want to be an astronaut—I like to explore.”

Megan Munsey and Lucas Davis, the other two members of Xing’s team, agreed that the marriage of technology and school work makes learning more enjoyable.

“You get to use stuff like podcasts instead of just opening up a book,” said the 12-year-old Davis.

“It makes everything easier to understand—and she (Alvey) makes it really easy to understand,” said Munsey, 11, who said she wants to be a science teacher.

Alvey said the integration of new technologies in the classroom is just as exciting for her as it is for the students.

“I never knew how to make a podcast until now!”


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