Engaged in Learning with Podcasting

Executive Members, Mrs. Chrissy Carr, GRAETC Chair, and Dr. Stephanie Playton, GRAETC Grants Coordinator, were able to make a special visit to Shady Grove Elementary School in Henrico County. During this visit, Mrs. Carr and Dr. Playton experienced first hand how GRAETC Mini-Grant awardee, Mrs. Brittany Ballou, integrated podcasting equipment with her funding, including microphones, headphones and a multitrack digital recorder. 

During the visit to Mrs. Ballou’s classroom, GRAETC Executive Members experienced first hand how the funding provided an engaging and integrated language arts project for 4th grade students. First, Mrs. Ballou collaborated with Mrs. Evans, a language arts and social studies teacher, to provide a framework for students to research and write a group script to be recorded for a podcast. The podcast had to convince listeners to visit their vacation destination by providing commentary that engaged listeners, as well as researched facts about local food, activities, weather, and more! To do so, students were also provided some background information and examples of student podcasts, such as But Why? and the Past and The Curious. Students learned how podcasters use elements and techniques to engage listeners. Once scripts were edited and refined by the students, they were each eager to put on the headphones and turn on their mics!

The students came to Mrs. Ballou in small groups to do their recordings. Each student walked in with their computers, took 1 of the 4 seats around the equipment, and plugged themselves into the podcasting hardware. Next, students launched their WeVideo accounts where Mrs. Ballou had used a group feature, through WeVideo Classes, for recording the podcast. This allowed each individual group member access to the group recording of their podcast. Lastly, they patiently waited for their group member cue – three, two, one, (thumbs up!), and began recording.

Mrs. Carr and Dr. Playton were both impressed with the level of engagement and ownership that each group displayed throughout their recording, including the time they put into developing and practicing their script. Some of the groups chose to record their podcast to include jokes, interviews with ‘experts and more, to engage listeners in creative ways. After each group recorded their parts, they were left to do final edits which included added background music and sound effects, then on to publishing their podcasts for eager audiences. We can’t wait to hear their final recordings.


Mrs. Brittany Ballou is the Innovative Learning Coach at Shady Grove Elementary School in Henrico County Public Schools. Previously she helped build the STEAM program from its inception in Chesterfield County Public Schools and she was an upper elementary classroom teacher for gifted students. Mrs. Ballou loves to help teachers bring learning to life for their students through hands-on experiences that integrate content across the curriculum.

Mrs. Chrissy Carr serves as the Coordinator for Educational Technology and Innovation for Prince George County Public Schools. Previously she held positions as an ITRT and classroom teacher. Mrs. Carr is passionate about providing innovative learning experiences for students, and as such, serves as our current Chair of GRAETC.

Dr. Stephanie Playton is a STEM Specialist at Longwood University’s Institute for Teaching Through Technology and Innovative Practices (ITTIP). While in this role, Dr. Playton serves PK-16 students and teachers in Virginia. Dr. Playton also serves as the current Chair for the Mini-Grant Committee for GRAETC. Twitter: @STEMGal

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