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Wondering whys

Wondering whys

A series of podcasts out of the School of Education is a perfect screen break for young learners

After spending three months teaching courses from home while monitoring her two sons as they adjusted to remote learning, Tabitha Dell’Angelo had a thought: What if she created podcasts on topics that interest elementary school children? A professor in the School of Education, Dell’Angelo thought podcasts would present an engaging learning format that would not require a screen. She also thought TCNJ education students — themselves future teachers — could benefit from learning how to create podcasts for their future students.

“I was thinking about ways I could support their ability to communicate content that works in a virtual environment,” she says, “and would still be relevant even when they’re back to face-to-face teaching.”

For her first podcast, Dell’Angelo went straight to her primary sources — her sons — and their subsequent conversation led to her first episode on the spotted lanternfly, the invasive Asian insect threatening to decimate the region’s trees. Each podcast episode was about eight to 12 minutes long and followed standard classroom pedagogy, including interviews with established experts and plenty of topical research. Dell’Angelo also enlisted Lauren Madden, a fellow education professor and the mother of 8-year-old twins, one of whom asked a question that led to Madden’s first episode on pheromones: Why do dogs sniff and pee so much?

Madden, in turn, called on students in her Science Teaching Methods class, including Ashlyn MacLure ’22 and Kelsey Kobus ’22, who pieced together a podcast based on a question from MacLure’s 6-year-old neighbor: Why does it rain?

“We learned a new way to teach students,” MacLure says, “and to do extra research about questions we wouldn’t normally think about.”

Note: The team’s podcast series, Smartypantswonders, is accessible on SoundCloud and Apple Podcasts.

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