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Karen Dux


"Hello, my fellow listeners. Today Mrs. Dux had to do a job where she sees how other teachers teach. Meanwhile, we got Mrs. Welch as our guest teacher and did what we normally did.


We, as you might know, went to science first. Each of us got a crossword puzzle about aircraft, and we had to write the definition of the words on page 66.

Next we sped like cars to the next class -- reading. We started out with our play called "Horton Hears a Who." Then we got two assignments: a quiz based on the play and a worksheet with a crossword puzzle on one side and vocabulary on the other..."


Karen Dux and her sixth grade class share classroom news.Photos provided by Karen Dux.

So begins Marissa's account of the events in Karen Dux's sixth grade classroom on February 26, 2008. As the day's Roving Reporter, Marissa recorded every notable happening from the class, including assignments and the cafeteria's delectable French bread pizza!

Each day, a student from Dux's class composes an article about the school day and takes photos with a digital camera. Published as a blog on the school Web site, the online report and accompanying podcast serve to exercise the students' reading and writing skills by providing an authentic audience of parents and others who are eager to learn the news from Jefferson Elementary in Fairbury, Nebraska.

"The goal of the project is to address the state writing standards," Dux told Education World. "With this project, students' writing has greatly improved since they are writing for a purpose and their writing is seen by many people outside the classroom."

Dux discovered a similar Roving Reporter project five years ago during a training session offered by Tony Vincent, and she patterned her own project after his. She has enhanced the project over time by adding the oral podcast to improve fluency and reading skills. The students use voice recorders to capture their voices as they read their reports. Each Roving Reporter segment is graded using a rubric based on the Six Traits of Writing.

Students create their "Jefferson Snoops" vodcast.

"In addition, we create a Jefferson School vodcast -- called Jefferson Snoops -- once a month," reported Dux. "For the vodcast, students continue to work on the state writing standards and also work on presentation standards. My students are news reporters, and they interview and write about school happenings beyond their own grade level."

Along with a feature for each grade level, the vodcast contains "Weise's Wisdom," an interview with the principal about a specific topic; an advice column, "Seibolt's Sidekicks;" a report with the physical education teacher that covers a fitness topic; homework tips; "Savvy Sevvys," which helps students get ready for junior high school; and "Hallway Traffic Report," a spoof on traffic reports that highlights hall rules in a humorous way. Students plan, interview, write, record, and produce the vodcast segments.

"My favorite reports are the ones that go beyond my expectations," admitted Dux. "The writers will include aspects of a grammar lesson that I have taught or use vocabulary that we have been practicing or that they have picked up on. They'll include funny things that have happened during the day that I didn't think they noticed."

Dux's students enjoy watching and listening to all of their podcast and vodcast reports, but their teacher believes that the Jefferson Snoops features that deal with homework and writing tips are the most useful. In those reports, her students truly shine. They thrive on the positive comments they receive from community members and parents and seem to strive for improvement with each assignment.

A voice recorder is used to make a "Roving Reporter" installment.

"The first time we debuted a vodcast, we held a party and invited the administrators and school board members," Dux recalled. "The students were in charge of introducing their own segments, and I was amazed by how they presented themselves. They were professional and had so much poise. I think they looked at it as a job presentation. They had a live audience!"

Although the vodcast and podcast work is time consuming, the rewards far outweigh the investment for Dux's class.

"Using technology in my lessons adds the extra pizzazz that students are accustomed to because they live in the present technological age," added Dux. "They spend their evening hours listening to their iPods, logging onto Facebook, and playing video games. Their world is changing and we, as educators, have to change with it."

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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected]

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
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