Grandville – “What does a principal do?”
“Do you have any pets?”
“What did you want to be when you were a kid?”
It’s no surprise that kindergartners are a curious bunch. At Cummings Elementary, teacher Angie Dressander is harnessing that energy by having her students create a podcast — aptly named “Curious Kindergarteners” — where they interview key individuals in their community.
Their first episode, a four-minute interview with Principal David Martini to find out more about his job and interests, is available on Spotify now.
“Little kids just wonder about everything, and so I thought the best way to find the answers is to talk to different people,” said Dressander. “A podcast is a great opportunity to teach them about technology, and also teach them that they have a voice. They can’t type and write, but there are tons of different apps that make it really easy for them to express themselves.
“Just like older kids can use technology to show what they’re learning, so can our little kids.”
Working on a podcast teaches the students about interviewing skills as they make lists of questions and talk about what sort of information they’d like to learn, Dressander said. They also get to work on their public speaking skills by practicing the interview ahead of time and choosing which students will ask the questions.
When recording the podcast, each student-interviewer is responsible for pushing the start/stop button to capture both the question and response. Afterwards, the class uses the Anchor app on iPads to edit the questions together and add music and sound effects.
Principal Martini was the class’ unanimous pick for their first podcast guest. He came to their classroom to do the interview – a special treat – and spent time talking about his favorite books, his “grandpuppy” and how he works to help the school.
In particular, Martini’s answer to the question, “What is your favorite part about being a principal?” generated lots of excitement, which can be heard on the podcast.
“He said he loved kids, and that made me happy,” said Monroe Hall after the recording session.
“I liked that he came to our room,” said Jesus Rivera.
Added Casey Bassler: “I liked asking a question.”
Dressander plans to make the podcast a monthly project and will ask parents or other community members to be featured guests. Her students have already said they’d like to interview a doctor or nurse because of the pandemic, and are also curious about what firefighters and police officers do at their jobs.
The recording and editing can even be done over Zoom, she said, in case any shifts to all-virtual learning become more permanent.
“They need to know how to use technology because that’s the future of the world that they’re going to live in,” said Dressander. “We need to start teaching them young, how to use tech correctly and to be responsible with it, too. They’re curious and they’re going to ask. And you never know, maybe someday they’ll have a podcast or another public platform to talk about what’s important to them, so they need to know how to use those tools properly.”