The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
  • Front.homecoming Court
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  • Front.ropes
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Podcasts: Elementary students make book reviews

Written by David Green.


The day Jackie Schaffner heard about podcasting at a professional development seminar, she knew that was technology she would put to use.

Mrs. Schaffner, Morenci Elementary School library aide, said she was quick to raise her hand when the Lenawee Intermediate School District speaker asked if anyone was interested in giving it a try.

podcast “I’m a techie,” she says, explaining her interest in trying out something new, especially related to the internet.

She learned the basics by making her way through a tutorial, but it took a lot of stumbling through the software on her own to bring the project together.

Now, with a $29 microphone purchased through a Morenci Education Foundation grant and two pieces of free software, she’s building a collection of book reviews created by students.

A podcast is described as an audio file that can be accessed over the internet. Podcasts gained popularity in the last three years and today many radio programs offer podcasts of their programming for listening at a later time.

The name suggests that an iPod is needed for listening to a podcast, but other mp3 players and computers are capable of handling the file.

Last year, Mrs. Schaffner created dozens of video reviews of books that were shown in the library. This year she’s turning to podcasts to allow other students to listen to the reviews at home.

The idea, she says, is to convince other students to read a book. If the response is the same as with the videos, it will make a big difference.

“Whenever a child did a review,” she said, “everyone wanted to read that book.”

Others wanted to create a video of their own, also.

“Now, everyone wants to make a podcast,” Mrs. Schaffner said. “That’s how it went with the videos last year. I did over a hundred of them.”

Even some shy children whom she never expected to inquire have come in to schedule a time.

How it’s done

First Mrs. Schaffner has the students fill out a form that lists the title of the book and a short summary.

“They have to practice at home with their parents and I need a parent’s signature,” she said.

Mrs. Schaffner reviews the written summary, makes some suggestions if needed, and sets up a recording time.

She operates the software called Audacity that allows her to add some background music, amplify the voice if necessary and edit out any pauses or stray noises.

She plays it back to get the student’s approval, then another piece of free software turns the recording into an mp3 file.

The finished podcast is then transferred to the school’s website.

Other projects

Mrs. Schaffner is interested in using podcasts as a way of inserting audio into PowerPoint presentations.

She’s also thinking about creating e-books with the students. Children’s illustrations would be scanned and collected into an electronic book. The author would tell the story via a podcast.

Whether or not the children’s book reviews are listened to frequently isn’t Mrs. Schaffner’s greatest concern. It’s the constantly changing technological standards in a changing world that she thinks about.

This recalls another seminar she attended that focused on the challenge ahead for teachers.

Teachers today are preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, to use technology not yet invented to solve problems not yet imagined.

“That’s part of my motivation,” she said.

• To find the collection of podcasts, go the school district website (, choose the elementary school link and click on Edline Monthly Calendar. A link to the elementary library is listed on the right.
    – Jan. 24, 2007 


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