The Downs FM
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The Downs FM is an exciting ICT project, which is run by children at our school. The team produce a podcast, which is broadcast to other children at school, and to others around the world, containing a fantastic mix of music, news, chat, messages and much more.
We get lots of questions from our listeners, who want to find out more about our shows, so we’ve tried to answer most of these questions here.
What equipment do we use?
- Most of the show is created using an Apple MacbookPro. This runs most of the software, and our team learn how to use it really quickly. We connect a USB microphone into this laptop so that our listeners can hear us!
- We also use PCs (and our interactive whiteboard) to do our research and to write scripts.
- We use Easispeak microphones to record features of the show in advance, or when we’re out and about “on location”.
Which software do we use?
- iTunes - This is one of the most important programs, as it collects all of the audio which we use in each show. We set up a special playlist, and put all of the audio needed for each show into it. iTunes also downloads the audio which we have recorded on the iPod.
- Garageband - We like using Garageband! We use Garageband to record our podcast. It’s really easy. We also use it to record the jingles which you hear on the show. These are used to introduce different parts of the show, and to remind listeners to send us an email, or visit our website.
- Google Docs - We work as a team to write our script with every member of the team writing their words on the same document at the same time, but on differerent computers!
Which websites do we use?
- BBC Newsround - The Newsround team have kindly allowed us to use some of their news articles in our shows. We find suitable pieces of news to broadcast, and then record this with the iPod to play in the show later.
- Feedburner - We use Feedburner for our podcast feed. Those people who subscribe to our show, use our Feedburner feed to download the latest shows automatically. Feedburner then tell us how many subscribers we have, and tell us a little more about the software they’re using.
Who is involved? What are our jobs?
The Downs FM consists of a team of children who are responsible for the show. The main team decide what goes into each show. They then ask other children to record features, prepare scripts, or present the show. Our teacher, Mr. Warner then puts our shows online and updates our website for us.
How do we make the shows?
We begin by deciding what we’re going to put into each show, and organising who is going to make the different parts of it. Some of us might find and record jokes, others might research and record a news article, whilst another group might prepare and record an interview with a member of staff, or with a special guest.
When we’re ready, our computer experts and DJs sit down to record the show. We open Garageband and get everything ready to record. We record each show as carefully as we can, adding in the jingles, clips and features which we recorded earlier. Sometimes we make mistakes, but we can usually record small sections again. Mr. Warner then puts the shows onto our website, and updates our podcast feed.
When do we make the shows?
It’s really difficult trying to make The Downs FM in our usual lesson time because there are so many children in the class, and it’s not very easy giving them all a job to do. So, we usually prepare for our shows during our lunchtimes. Sometimes we record the show in front of a class, as this gives us an audience (who can also get involved in the show), but that makes things a little more nerve-wracking!
We try to record a show regularly, but this isn’t always possible. School is a very busy place, and there are sometimes other things which take up our time instead!
What do we learn by doing this?
Our teacher says that we learn the following things:
- “Literacy skills - although each show only lasts about 15 minutes, many hours of work go into the preparation and production of The Downs FM. The children have to research jokes, news articles and other features. They also have to think of questions to ask their interviewees, as well as writing the scripts for each show. This covers a huge range of literacy objectives.
- Speaking and listening skills - presenting a podcast requires the development of clear speaking skills. The children are aware that their voices will be broadcast to a huge number people around the world, and listen to other podcasters to discover the best ways to use their voices. As they gain experience, it is always possible to see their skills and confidence develop.
- ICT skills - I never fail to be impressed with how quickly the children learn these new and incredibly sophisticated ICT skills. They become confident and incredibly proficient at using a wide variety of equipment and software within a short space of time. The entire show is genuinely created by the children. As the teacher, I do very basic editing of the show once it has been recorded, and then distribute it via our website and podcast feed.
- Team work skills - A project like this requires a considerable team effort. The children all need to work closely together to create an entertaining podcast in a short space of time.
- Confidence and Dedication - The children who work on The Downs FM are all volunteers. They are all incredibly motivated young people, who give up their own free time to work on the project. As a result of their efforts, their confidence develops considerably. They all become increasingly valued and recognised members of our school community, and their dedication to the project always amazes me.”
But, we just think that making The Downs FM is great fun!
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Episode 17The Downs FM eSafety 2013
This special eSafety show was recorded by Kate, Lilly, Louis and Jasper on Safer Internet Day 2013!
Episode 16The Downs FM 2012/13 Show 1
Our Year 6 children have been designing their own fun fairs and have recorded this podcast to tell you all about them.
Episode 15The Downs FM 2011/12 Show 1
Listen to our special Christmas show to hear about the exciting things happening at The Downs CE Primary School!
Episode 14The Downs FM 2010/11 Show 5
This is our last show of this school year. It has lots of jokes, interviews and reports about the great fun that we have had this year. We hope that you like it!
Episode 13The Downs FM 2010/11 Show 4
Here's our podcast from Term 4 - listen to find out what we have been doing.
Episode 12The Downs FM 2010/11 Show 3
In our third show of this school year, we have an interview with our new journalism club, a Science quiz, a report about our ICT topic and lots more. We hope that you enjoy it!
Episode 11The Downs FM 2010/11 Show 2
This is our special Christmas show. We hope that you enjoy our Christmas-themed songs, jokes, reports and more...
Episode 10The Downs FM 2010/11 Show 1
This is our first Downs FM episode for the new school year... and it's all about our recent trip to Port Lympne zoo. We hope that you enjoy listening to it!
Episode 9The Downs FM 2009/10 Show 4
It's our final episode of this school year. In this show, we have some radio adverts from Year 6, a report about our summer holiday plans, news about the things that we have enjoyed this year and another collection of hilarious jokes!
Episode 8The Downs FM 2009/10 Show 3
Our children are using the game Myst in our lessons this term. In this podcast, you can listen to some of our Year 3 pupils reading their descriptions of the roller coaster ride that you can find in the game. We hope that you enjoy them!
Episode 7The Downs FM 2009/10 Show 2
Episode 6The Downs FM 2009/10 Show 1
In our first show of this academic year, we have reports about our Harvest, information about some school work, a selection of jokes and an interview with a famous author!
Episode 5The Downs FM - Myst Poems
Some of our children have been using the computer game 'Myst IV' as part of their Literacy lessons. They explored one of the places in the game, called Spire, and wrote some poetry based on what they saw, heard, smelt and felt during the adventure!
Episode 4The Downs FM - Year 2 Compositions
Some of our Year 2 children have been experimenting with Garageband today. Their compositions have been added to this short podcast. What do you think?
Episode 3The Downs FM - Year 2 Compositions
Here's another group of compositions from our Year 2 children. They worked really hard on them and had great fun too!
Episode 2The Downs FM - Panto Special
Our KS2 children put on a wonderful pantomime in January. Listen to this podcast to hear the 'behind the scenes' gossip about how it was made.
Episode 1The Downs FM - WW2 Special
As part of World Book Day, pupils in Year 5 took part in a special 'World War 2' experience. You can hear all about their activities in this special podcast.