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Mid-Del Podcasts Capture Students' Attention

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Today's elementary students are more tech-savvy than ever. Today's elementary students are more tech-savvy than ever.
Dr. Katherine Hughes discusses the impact of the "Pod Squad." Dr. Katherine Hughes discusses the impact of the "Pod Squad."
"Aunt Laurretta " has been extremely successful in getting students to read. "Aunt Laurretta " has been extremely successful in getting students to read.

By Darren Brown, News9.com Insite team

DEL CITY, Oklahoma -- Do you remember using a chalkboard in school?  How about an overhead projector?  That stuff is considered old-fashioned these days, and the Mid-Del School District is leading the way with the "new" stuff.

Teachers, students and even librarians across the Mid-Del School District are creating educational podcasts.

Podcasting, the fine art of sending a video by way of a mobile video/music device, is not really new.  But getting students to read and review books by using this technology is something that inspires educators.

Tammy Woodring, a fourth grade teacher at Highland Park Elementary, can remember the "old" days.

"When I first started, we didn't have all the technology that's available to us now," said Woodring.  "In fact I didn't even have a computer in my room."

Things have changed dramatically in Woodring's nineteen-year teaching career.  Computer labs, Smart Boards, and especially students, are more high-tech.

"Plain paper and pencil work, it gets boring to them," Woodring said.  "You have to keep up to keep their interest."

The project began four years ago, with a handful of teachers who were already keeping up with their technology-savvy students.

"We kinda roped in a few folks and said 'We've got an idea,'" said Dr. Katherine Hughes. 

Hughes is the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for Mid-Del Schools.

"That's kind of how the Pod Squad came to be," Hughes said.

Since her early days of podcasting, Woodring has pushed the envelope.  She has an alter ego that actually does the talking on her podcasts.  "Aunt Laurretta", named for Woodring's real aunt, is a big hit in the reading community at Highland Park Elementary.

She even has her own catch phrase, one handed down from her own mother.

"You've got to read Laurretta Fay, 'cause if you don't your brain is gonna shrink up like a peanut, and this world has got too many nuts," she said.  

Of course, digital cameras, support software, and training don't come cheaply.  But the podcast project has paid off in other ways.  Namely, by getting students to read more.

A fact not lost on the Mid-Del Schools Administration.

"There's no price to put on student achievement," Hughes said.  "So it's worth every single  penny."

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