Melissa Stepanian's Portfolio Page.

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Needs Assessment

Part 1: Intent

In today's educational society, there has been a tremendous push to develop interdisciplinary, technology-based curricula. One particular strategy which has become more popular is Podcasting. As a Social Studies teacher in the New York City Department of Education, I have set out to create innovative methods of technology-based assessment catering to each of the New York State Social Studies Standards. Integrating Podcasting activities into the curricula has helped students actively demonstrate content mastery through active learning and participation. For example, as my Ninth Grade Arts and Humanities students finished their unit on the Black Death, I asked them to draft original poetry. Instead of simply reading their poems in order to share with a peer and then evaluate each others work, I had students develop original Podcasts in which they would record their poetry using a laptop computer and an external microphone. Following the editing process, I was able to upload the poems to a website such as[1]and have students log-on to evaluate the work of their peers using an original rubric. Each student seemed to appreciate this task more than traditional read-aloud approaches. They enjoyed being able to listen to one another through the use of headphones and the laptop. Through this mini-course, I seek to help educators understand what podcasting is, how it may be conducted, and why it is an effective learning strategy in the classroom.

Part 2: Gathering Information

In order to gauge the knowledge of potential teacher participants, I conducted a Technology Implementation Survey on[2]. Ten educators participated in the survey and I wish to thank each of them for their assistance.

A link to the survey may be found at[3].

Results of the survey may be retrieved by downloading the following Microsoft World file: File:TECHNOLOGY IMPLEMENTATION SURVEY RESULTS.doc.

Part 3: Summary and Revision

As our learning environments become more data driven, teachers have become apprehensive in developing innovative activities in which students may apply content learned through creative means. More effort has been placed on statistics such as Final Exam or Regents scores, to the extent at which both teachers and students have been programmed to "work to the test". In order to generate a deeper student appreciation for content, I seek to develop a learning environment which may dual-faceted; firstly, it may provide room for demonstration of Regents-like skills, and secondly, it may allow for student creativity and originality.

Through this survey, I have learned that many teachers have become more comfortable using technology on a daily basis within their classrooms. They have adapted their lessons to reinforce skills using technology in an effort to bridge the gap among all learners. Much like educators have become comfortable using the DVD player or the LCD projector, they may become more accustomed to conducting podcasts through attending professional development workshops. As is the case with our own students, it is only through learning and understanding the necessary skill that we may be able to apply it. Even though many teachers may at first be apprehensive, when we take the time to conduct step-by-step sessions, they may have a deeper yearning to integrate the strategy on their own.

There has been a tremendous amount of questioning as to whether podcasting may actually be effective in a classroom where students will be responsible to take a Regents exam at the end of the school year. Returning to our original point of "teaching to the test", through this mini-course, I seek to provide data as to how the podcasting strategy may also be viewed as a Regents Review strategy helping each and every learner better prepare for statewide assessment.