Book Review Podcast
1 Free Reading
Students select a book to read simply for enjoyment and relaxation. Class time is designated for reading time (several weeks to a month depending on how the time is allocated).
Students are provided an overview of the project steps and finished product: A quality podcast that includes intro and outro music to make the emotion, feel, or theme of their book.
As a group project, have all students read their own book individually. Then as teams of two (or three) are put together, each team must review each book read in the group and choose which one they, as a group, will use to complete the project.
The group version allows for a quicker turnaround on the project overall.
2 Learn components of a book review
Librarian or other qualified teacher addresses main components included in typical book reviews (not book reports). This is typically a class discussion using a recent book read by the presenter as a model.
- Hook (or interesting/catchy title)
- Plot (without giving away the climax of the book)
Book reviews are a thoughtful analysis of the main components that make up a good book review, which is intended to generate others' interest in reading the book.
3 Become familiar with audio tools
Students are introduced to audio software (2 or more to allow students the opportunity to decide which will be fit their needs) and provided demos for using them.
Students then are allowed a class period to familiarize themselves hands-on the audio software and decide which to use. for their book review.
4 Writing the script
Collaboratively writing (using Google docs or similar) the script is recommended as this helps teach digital citizenship and collaborative working skills.
Book review podcasts cannot be completed effectively without some type of written script prepared. Writing the script also helps students see how their podcast will flow and sound before recording. Here they can self-edit and evaluate where gaps may occur and/or more or less information is needed.
Students will also determine how they wish to present their book reviews. For example:
- interview style
- discussion based (i.e. Siskel and Ebert style, which works best if all group members read the same book)
- essay type review (i.e. Maureen Corrigan/NPR)
- or any other style that demonstrates individual creativity and accomplishes the desired result
Encourage creativity here. (Example, a rap version of the book review).
5 Music creation and Audio Recording
Here students will create original music intro and outro for their book reviews, using the music software or by recording their own musical production. These should be no longer than 5-12 secs for intro and 8-15 for outro.
Students will also record their book reviews. This will probably require several takes and many failed starts. Help students understand the expectation is not to get it perfect the first time as this will encourage persistence, and influence grit and perseverance.
Recording concepts to help students with:
- Check sound quality in space where recording will take place. Students don't realize that recording in different places or in different proximity to mic will be glaringly apparent in their final production. Students should plan to utilize the same space throughout the recording process for recording.
- Don't delete recordings, pieces might be able to be used later, and bloopers are always fun if time allows. Once the production is finished and exported (and graded) students can delete the editable work from their device.
- Turn off the click-track (metronome) when recording. This can ruin a recording and a grade.
- Knitting tracks together, editing and sequencing are all a part of the editing and production process. Encourage students to take their time with this.
- Mistakes are a big part of the learning process. Do-overs are necessary and encouraged.
- If devices are shared for this project among students in different classes or groups, this allows a wonderful opportunity to teach good digital citizenship. Lay out the consequences of sabotaging another's work, and not caring for the device properly.
6 Exporting and sharing the production
Export the finished production to Soundcloud account or student YouTube account.
The Soundcloud account can be one account created by the instructor where all students upload and render the final version.
Once the podcast is rendered and secure on one of the sites, students can share with their instructor via a shareable link, added to Google classroom, embed their podcast on a website, blog, or other similar site.
Podcasts can even be added to your school's library website to be shared with other folks that may be interested in reading the book the review was based on, and potentially another lesson on digital citizenship.