No limit to new ideas at Falcon RidgeAug 05, 2022 01:08PM ● By Jet Burnham
Incoming sixth graders Tanle, Cole and Arie prepare to record the first episode of the new school year for their school podcast. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)
Starting a podcast became a dream come true for some sixth graders at Falcon Ridge Elementary.
“Being a part of this was the coolest thing of this year,” said Krew, one of the students who approached Principal Theresa Christensen with the idea. “This is definitely what I’m going to remember from elementary school, that I was in our school podcast—that I started the school podcast.”
Krew, along with fellow sixth graders Enzo, Ashton, Alex and Lex, hosted many of the nine episodes recorded last year which featured interviews with school staff members and students.
The first episode of the Falcon Ridge Elementary Jr. Falcons podcast featured the fascinating life of Brett Beyer: school custodian, author and helicopter pilot.
This coming year, the podcast will expand to include book reviews and interviews with members of the community. Christensen has purchased more audio equipment, handed off the project to two teachers and opened up hosting opportunities to more students.
She believes the experience helps students develop skills needed for future jobs.
“Students learn to think critically about different subjects, research and write probing questions, as well as practice their speaking and listening skills,” she said.
The last episode of the year featured original hosts Enzo and Krew introducing some of the new hosts—upcoming sixth graders Arie, Cole and Tanle. For their first episode, the new hosts recorded an interview with Christensen, using the tips their predecessors had shared, such as keeping their chairs quiet, not talking over each other and being prepared with good questions.
Jordan District’s Digital Learning and Teaching Department Administrator Jared Covili likes to see students leading out on experimenting with new technologies and learning opportunities.
“I think we feel like we have to be the expert on everything, especially when you’re in education,” Covili said. “As the adult in the room, you feel like you have to know everything. With some of this stuff, it’s so great to let the kids be the leaders and show you how to do some things and give you some ideas of new things you can try. It’s been cool to see how some of the schools are really adapting that mindset.”
Christensen enthusiastically supports new ideas.
“Whenever a student or a teacher mentions something they would love to see offered, I will look for funding and individuals to implement it,” she said. “I believe learning should be relevant and fun for students and they all have different interests that we should accommodate.”
Falcon Ridge offers daily after school activities—STEM club, ballroom dance, flag football, soccer, basketball, reading club and peer tutoring—which are based on suggestions from students, teachers and parents.
This year, interested fifth and sixth graders will have the opportunity to work on the new school newspaper staff, covering school news, editorials and fun topics, while developing real-world skills.
“Working on the newspaper provides students with experience in creative writing, interviewing, making their own appointments and keeping them, adhering to deadlines, summarizing, teamwork and understanding our student body,” said fifth-grade teacher Rivka Cook, who has a passion for journalism and for teaching.
“I am very passionate about writing and helping students find their own voices,” said Cook, a former journalist. She said Christensen has been a huge support for the project.
Covili believes administrator support is key for new ideas, such as school podcasts and after-school clubs, to flourish.
“For a lot of educators, when their administration is behind it and really supports them, the sky really is the limit, because it’s not just about access to equipment sometimes, but it’s that mindset that we have the freedom to try new things,” he said.λ