I ran an after school club which created a radio station. This post is an evaluation of methods used and ideas.
Ideally, a proper radio set up with desk and transmitting capabilities would be great but we had just bought IPads so using those seemed a good thing to do. We used GarageBand to record and edit our shows. This limited the effects and quality we could achieve but it did mean that it was simple enough for children to edit and put together themselves.
Each show had a theme which the children chose the week before. In pairs, they chose a topic within that theme and prepared a script to read or found the relevant information. I insisted that we kept a few regular features so that our audience could become familiar with our station -creating a brand – in commercial radio speak, I think!
- Guess the teacher quiz (using the voice changer onGarageBand) the children loved this
- An interview
- School singing – recorded in assembly
- Reviews – Films, Games etc
- Top Tens
- Reading a story
To begin with, children came to club with some information which we then turned into a more detailed script that read well and then we practised reading the script aloud with expression. The children worked in pairs so that they could critique each other and provide moral support- reading aloud can be embarrassing! It also meant that the speaker could concentrate on that and the other child could control the iPad.
GarageBand defaults to an 8 bar limit when you use voice recorder. Therefore, the first job was to teach each child how to set the bar size to automatic by clicking the + sign at the end of the time line. The next issue was the metronome chiming throughout our recordings so the children had to switch off the metronome (this is much easier on the latest updated version)
Over the term we used two methods of recording, the first with one iPad and the second using several iPads and Airdrop.
The first method used older iPads which didn’t have Airdrop installed. This meant we used a room or area to record each section of the show while the rest of the children practised or researched for next week’s show. Each section of the show was recorded as a separate track on GarageBand, it was really important that each group clearly labelled their track to make editing easier.
Putting the show together required opening each track and copying the bar of recorded sound and pasting it into a ‘master’ track which was the final show. Tracks that had multiple sounds within them, such as talking and a bedding music track could be merged into one track and exported.
You can merge tracks by tapping once in the side control panel and then tapping merge. You then select the tracks you wish to merge.
The second method still involved one iPad being used to edit and put the show together but each group could use their own iPad to record and then used Airdrop to share tracks.
We shared each show online using Soundcloud and then used the embed code from there to put this onto our school website. Initially, our first show had well over a hundred listens ( about a quarter of the school!) this slowly dropped as time went on.
The story was a big success, using it as a bed time story aimed at KS1. The children In my club weren’t the most able across upper Key Stage 2 so it provided them with great speaking and listening opportunities, writing and the all important audience and purpose for their work.
Things to Change:
Timing of the club – I think running the club over a lunchtime would have allowed more interviews and comments from other children making the show more interactive. This would also compel more children to listen to the shows.
Giving more structure and ideas- It was very difficult to balance what the children wanted to talk about with what a larger audience might want to hear. For example, Plants Vs Zombies and Minecraft do need some form of introduction before twlking to the general public. It was hard to get this message across before they launched into a big explanation of the different types of mods on Minecraft.
Being the oldest children in the school, some of the news items they contributed needed some editing for whole school listening and even to be endorsed by the school. Whilst these were important lessons for the children to learn. I feel more guidance and time would allow them to select better stories that more children could relate to.
Using Pupil Voice – I would like to change the nature of the radio station to reflect the voices of all pupils and to act as a service ‘for us, by us’ rather than something that reflected the interests of a select few.
Below is the link to our shows, we would love any feedback and also any other examples of primary school radio.
Best Bit: When talking about Top Ten football teams; ” At number one, Brian Munich!” Priceless