Kasten's project was not only a "first" for her, it was a first for her students. '06 senior Delia Langan sums it up this way: "I've never done a project like that before, and it was cool that we were able to see the original painting. It was also strange, in that each section [of our podcast], each sentence, was an individual recording—and I didn't expect to see how well it came together with the music and everything." Clearly, Kasten would be willing to go through it all again. "This is do-able, it just takes a little more planning. All the different exercises that led up to this—all the different writing and speaking opportunities—they all used the same elements that we cover in class." "I think that, whatever you are doing, there's got to be an image in it—and that can be your springboard to the conversation. It's also your way of pulling in your visual learners. My students were able to synthesize all their grammar through art. I just thought this was so much more stimulating [than a traditional class]." This is not to say that there were not many moments of anxiety and second-guessing. "I was worried that we weren't going to end up with a product that we would want to put up on the Web site. You're concerned because you're representing your school when you do that, and I had never done anything like it before. I was worried that the technology would be a problem—and of course it was—but the way we solved that was with the support of the faculty, especially the music teacher here. It's important to have people around who will support you. If I didn’t know I had people to support me, I never would have endeavored to do this." Kasten offers particular thanks to Dr. Ellen Fishman Johnson, Springside's Music Teacher, Director of Technology Pete DiDonato, and Math Specialist Charlie Grogan. "Part of what I would advise a teacher to do who is trying anything like this is to model what you want," Kasten adds. "You have to do one yourself. I did everything I asked my students to do. Also, you have to be willing to let go of your students, and you have to be willing to make mistakes." Any mistakes were apparently minor ones, and David DiDonato was clearly sold on the project. "This was a very good experience," he says, "and should be a part of the [foreign language] curriculum of any school—especially for how it helps with dialogue!" So what’s next for Stephanie Kasten? The next experiment will involve teaching Le Petit Prince through a Weblog with her French 3 students. And if she feels weary from trying so many new approaches, she need only reflect on this: "One of the boys put the CD of his podcast on the stereo at home and said, 'Mom, come in here and listen to this!' And the mom listened and thought it was cool and asked who the artist was. When he told her it was him, she started crying. She had no idea he could sing in French. That was definitely a high point." Definitely.
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 .