Innovative practice in schools suggests that students are more engaged with their studies when teachers give them the opportunity to share their work with “authentic audiences.” Authentic audiences are those that are ‘real life,’ as in student publication of writing for professional review, dramatic or artistic productions with live audiences, or demonstrating their products in competitions such as robotics.
Pickering College, a K-12 CIS independent School in Newmarket, Ontario, has taken the term ‘audience’ to a highly professional level with their own CRTC licensed radio station CHOP FM 102.7. This professional grade radio station enables students in Grade 11 and 12 Communications Technology courses and Co-Op courses to demonstrate their work product to real audiences. The impact? Ian Johnston, a Pickering College teacher involved in teaching the courses says “the kids come to class smiling and ready to put in long hours at something important to them.”
Briana and Shomari are two of the students who host daily shows on the station, requiring an hour a day five days a week each, and they are dead keen. Briana hopes to pursue post-secondary studies in radio, while Shomari plans to study the production side at university.
Tim Beers, the other Pickering College teacher involved in the courses and the station, indicated that their long-term goal is to develop a multi-media production house at the school. Hopefully, they would expand their students’ talents into areas such as graphic design and web development.
Not all schools can mount a radio station but all teachers can provide their students with authentic audiences. It does make a difference and begins to deal with real-life skills that will be essential for success in the 21st century.
- Adrian Hoad-Reddick writes about his student radio show with St. John’s-Kilmarnock School and the University of Guelph. (DialogueOnline.ca)