Vance Elementary teacher's class creates podcast to get kids excited about learning

(Photo credit: John Le, WLOS)

Paul Garrity of Vance Elementary combines great communication with a creative use of technology to engage his class. Garrity does whatever it takes to spark the wonder of learning.

Great teachers may not have all the answers, but they often have a knack for encouraging questions, like: "Who created egg nog?"

"We come to school to learn new things," one girl said.

In our Thanks To Teachers segment, we salute the third grade teacher who has made a big impact in just a year and a half.

"Ensure that kids not only learn the basic skills and knowledge they are expected to learn but also learn to be learners," Garrity told News 13.

Weekly inquiry projects are one way to accomplish that. Students come up with questions they'd like answered and post them in the form of sticky notes on the Wonder Wall. Then, a class podcast documents their journey of discovery.

"And my question is, who invented rock and roll?" a student said in one recent audio clip.

"My name is Asher and my question is, how does the black plague work?" another boy said.

"To actually research, find sources, to answer their question," Garrity explains. "This year we wanted to try to carve out a public audience, so that's where the podcast came from."

"Why do bees sting?" a boy said during one podcast. "Well, bees have stingers because they found it somewhere in the woods they really want to protect the mother bee."

Each podcast is emailed to parents.

"It's really fun to hear all the kids talk," said parent Jeff Makey. "And find out what they're doing in class and that promotes dinner conversation with my child as well."

Garrity's circle of learning extends beyond just his students. He relies on moms, dads, and other family members to help kids thrive.

"As my only daughter is going through school, Paul has taken the time to teach me how to teach her and help her with homework," Makey said.

"I don't do this alone, this is a team effort," Garrity says.

Under Mr. Garrity's tutelage, they explore questions with a sense of excitement. It's a journey he hopes will pay off for years to come.

"When it clicks for them after they've grappled for it, it's the most enjoyable for me because they can see that process happening," Garrity said.

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