Reading, Writing, and ... Podcasting? 

Memphis City School principals stream into the digital age.

Give the teacher an Apple. An Apple computer, that is.

Thirty Memphis City Schools principals attended a training session last week at MCS' Teaching and Learning Academy to learn about podcasting, the Apple technology that streams free audio and visual content to computers, iPods and other portable media-players.

"Everybody in the room finished a three-minute podcast," said Linda Eller, staff development coordinator in MCS' technology department. "They went through it step-by-step and saw how easy it was. They were flabbergasted. You could just hear the oohing and aahing."

Attendees said podcasting could be used if an instructor wanted to record lectures from his class so students could revisit them when studying for a quiz. Students could also listen to an NPR podcast about a location across the globe, or improve their French accent by listening to a native speaker.

"The world is wide open to bring every opportunity into your kids' classrooms," said Adair Caperton, a curriculum and staff development specialist with Apple. "It's there. You just have to know how to grab it. It's all about turning kids on to learning."

Tim Tyson, a visiting middle-school principal from Georgia, told the principals how his school has changed in the past year since its website began featuring podcasts. Parent meetings can be downloaded by parents who were unable to attend. There are podcasts made specifically for staff, and podcasts made by students about special projects they've done.

"Not only have these kids created something, but they're able to share it across the world," said Tyson, whose website now gets over a million hits a month. "They think their iPods are an extension of them, so if we can get educational content and put it on their iPods, they'll learn that content."

It's a challenge the principals seemed to embrace.

"I think they are so motivated and so pumped," Eller said. "These principals are going to tell other principals and teachers, 'Look what you missed!' It actually gives me chill bumps."

Gardenview Elementary principal Rhoda Stigall agreed. "One of the reasons I came out today was to see what was available and to learn about it. I'm so glad I did. Looking at the program today, I can see all the rave reviews of podcasting, and we definitely plan to use it a lot."

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