E11 - Student Produced Podcasts in Science Class with Anne Rizzacasa

Episode Music Credits:  Old Love Instrumental by Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, 100% Clearance through Musicbed 

On this episode of Blending In, I’m chatting with Anne Rizzacasa, a high school biology teacher at Tahquitz High School in Hemet Unified School District.  Anne and I serve together on the Inland Area CUE board of directors, and I got the chance to sit down and record a conversation with her while we were at the Spring CUE Conference in Palm Springs this year (my apologies for the poor audio quality)!  In our conversation that was recorded in my hotel room one morning before our conference shenanigans began, Anne shared her passion for blending in technology in her science classes and how she has even blended in podcasting with her students!

Anne, or “Ms. Riz” as her students call her, began our conversation about blended learning by discussing the epiphany she had when she realized that she could essentially clone herself with technology.  She began to record videos of herself teaching lessons and uploading these videos into EdPuzzle for her students which then freed herself during instructional time to actually work one-on-one or with small groups of students to meet their needs.  To her students, she playfully refers to herself as “in-real-life Riz” and her digital self as “digital Riz”.  

IACUE Board of Directors at Spring Cue on St. Patty's Day

Anne's students working in groups on a bacterial transformation lab with the supplies below.

She said that during this process, she was able to pay more attention to the small things that students were doing in class that are usually overlooked in traditional set-ups.  She gave the example of recognizing that her high school students didn’t know the short-cuts for copy/pasting information - she wouldn’t have otherwise noticed that students were missing this skill if she had not flipped her classroom which helped to get her out of the “sage on the stage” role and into the “guide on the side” role in her classroom. We discussed the importance of weaving in digital skills no matter what grade level or content you are teaching.

When I asked Anne about the best blended learning approach, she immediately dove into how she’s been blending in podcasting with her Dual Enrollment students.  She discussed how the traditional methods of writing a report and doing a Socratic Seminar type discussion did not truly allow her to hear ALL the voices in her classroom.  So she decided to try podcasting with her students!  She began by walking them through how to create and post their podcasts on Anchor (which is now Spotify for Podcasters).  She challenged them to create 8 podcast episodes over issues or relevant social/political topics related to the curriculum they are studying in class.  They started small with short episodes and they worked up to episodes that are 30 minutes long.  Along the way, she challenges them to try different things like interviewing or adding a commercial.  Anne then listens to her students' podcasts as she’s driving to and from work!  Check out some of their podcasts below and follow Anne on Twitter at @annerizzy!

Anne's students working in groups on their podcasts.

A close up of the in-class podcast studio set-up.

⬇️ Student Podcasts Produced in Anne Rizzacasa's class at Tahquitz High School ⬇️

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