Second-graders take to the air Print
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, May. 02, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Gracey Bartol, a second-grader at St. John the Baptist School in Princeton, records her segment of the class podcast. (Contributed photo/Justine Naparalla)

PRINCETON -- "Welcome to WISJ. The only radio station where second-graders update you about events in second grade at St. John's School."

You won’t find that introduction on your car radio, even if you search the AM and FM bands for hours.

Those words come from Justine Naparalla’s second grade class at St. John the Baptist School in Princeton. Her students are getting the chance to be broadcasters.

Several times, during the course of the year, the class is making a podcast sharing the latest of what’s going on and what’s to come in the life of a second-grader at the school.

A new kind of lesson

The idea for the project came after Naparalla took a literacy and technology course last year as part of her master’s program at UW-Oshkosh. Part of the course required her to make a podcast relating to literacy.

She let her students get in on the assignment to teach writing and fluency. She decided to continue the podcast for the next school year because the students loved doing it.

"It is quite a simple process, really," said Naparalla. "You only need a computer, iPod, or tablet, but you must have a microphone. We use a classroom computer and headphone/microphone combo sets. Everything else needed is free."

With a class of seven students, each second-grader is in charge of one part of the podcast. Their assigned part changes for every podcast. The students are asked to write about what they have been learning in their classes since the last show.

"It gives them a great opportunity to reflect upon learning that has taken place in that subject," said Naparalla."As they write, the students consult each other and me. As the year progresses, they become more independent about writing their part."

Going 'on the air'

Next, comes the students' time to record their parts. Each student takes his or her turn recording the assigned segment using a free audio editor.

"I do much of the technological controlling during recording, though they know how much of it works," said Naparalla. "I pause and keep the recording after each child records his/her part so that if one child makes a mistake, it can easily be removed from the audio track we are creating."

When all of the parts are recorded, the class adds some music to the beginning and the end of the show, saves the project, and uploads it to the school's website to share with the world.

April's podcast, three minutes long and now available for downloading and listening, gives a look at some upcoming events, as well as a rundown of what the students are learning in other classes. In math, the students are learning about addition, subtraction, and multiplication.

In art, the students are making Mother Day’s gifts. Reading class finds the students reading Whatever After #2: If the Shoe Fits by Sarah Mlynowski, which is a new spin on Cinderella.

"I think the most important idea behind the radio show concept is getting students involved in reflecting," said Naparalla. "As educators, we are always reflecting to improve our teaching. Students need to reflect, too, to increase metacognition. This helps them to set learning goals."

To listen to the podcasts, go to the school’s website at and click on the links under “Radio Show.”


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