ProductThe students' assignment was to study various works of French art (from the Museum's collection), and select one to research in detail. They then used what they had learned from their research to create either an original dialogue or song lyrics to explain key elements of the art. There were many other aspects of the project, but these lyrics and dialogues became the podcasts. If your French is up to snuff, you can follow these podcasts.
InspirationWhat motivates a busy teacher to take on such a multi-dimensional project? "I was driving in my car in June of 2005, listening to NPR's 'Talk of the Nation,' about a professor (David Gilbert of the Marymount Manhattan Communication Arts Project) who took his students to MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. They then made podcasts of what they had seen there. They played clips of the podcasts on the radio and they were so funny, I thought, 'This would be perfect!' I'd always been interested in music and art in French class. My dream would be to teach every day using art somehow—but I haven't figured out how to do that yet." Kasten searched further to find the "official" podcast descriptions of these same works from MoMA, and was disappointed at how formal and uninspired they seemed. "They didn't come alive for me. [The speaker on the Web site's] interpretation came from experience—a lot more experience than my twelfth grade kids—but it wasn't lively. That's what [David Gilbert] at Marymount was able to bring out. This was alive! And I thought that, if the kids were able to create their own art through the words they studied, this would be such a higher-level experience than just regurgitating back what they read."
ProcessThe podcast project grew as Kasten looked to include the same set of skills that were part of her French 5 class. In the end the project synthesized grammar, vocabulary, research, writing, discussion, and much more. Aside from the final podcast, students were required to complete a formal research paper, log weekly Weblog entries, visit the Museum, hone their vocabulary and speaking skills, and complete all of the editing and recording steps to their final podcasts. "They worked on vocabulary. They would have to include certain verb structures and the art became a 'jumping off point' every day. They would write comparison/contrast papers in French—everything was done in French. I felt this was so much more [than their typical coursework]. They had to create the podcast—that was the final project. For the first step they had to write a research paper. They had to invent a scenario and create a dialogue. They were learning to address a much wider public—which really upped the ante for them. They had to post to a blog. And I just liked to tap into all their strengths."
For more information, please contact Education: School & Teacher Programs by phone at (215) 684-7580, by fax at (215) 236-4063, or by e-mail at .