Steamboat Springs When a teacher sees an MP3 player in the classroom, it's often basis for punishment - a sign that the student isn't paying attention to the lesson. But in Steamboat Springs, the lesson increasingly is the iPod.
With educational podcasts, famous speeches, PowerPoint presentations and the ability to create new content, iPods and other multimedia MP3 players have the potential to be more than just a way to listen to music, Steamboat Springs High School librarian Nicole DeCrette said.
DeCrette and Bud Werner Memorial Library Teen Services librarian Alison Lambart taught a lesson Friday about the many uses of the iPod. It was an effort, they said, to expose students to ways of using their gadgets creatively for work and pleasure.
Holding a special plug-in microphone, DeCrette showed students how they can record audio on their iPods for later use.
"Imagine anything you want to record - music, singing, whatever," she said. "This is one way a lot of people are recording themselves on the go. You don't need a fancy recording studio to be a creator."
DeCrette told students they could use the recording function for notes as they read, audio they hear around them or to create their own radio show or podcast.
Fifth-grader Zach Skubiz, sixth-grader Josh Winge and eighth-grader Ben Bradford listened to DeCrette in an upstairs seating area in the library as she demonstrated other uses for the wildly popular portable music and video players.
Zach said he already uses iPods in his classroom at Strawberry Park Elementary School with teacher Erin Hesse.
"We use it for reading; we record our ideas, then use them later so we don't forget," he said. "I can't believe you can actually sing songs on them, though."
Zach said he doesn't own an iPod - yet. His father, John Skubiz, said he was considering buying one for Zach after the presentation. Skubiz said Zach has used books on tape as he followed along with the reading in the past, and an iPod may make it easier.
At the high school, DeCrette is working to create a library of digitized audio books, even when the school can't purchase the books. In one project, National Honor Society members are reading textbooks into recorders to help English Language Learners and struggling students hear the material.
DeCrette also is working with teachers to put more material on iPods for students who miss a class or need a review session. She said iPods - as well as more Web sites and electronic resources - are an effective way to reach more students than before.
"I'd like to meet their needs and interests, but it has to be in their way," she said.
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