Both the Common Core and
ISTE Standards expect students
to demonstrate oral communication skills as early as kindergarten. But while the
Common Core’s English
Language Arts Standards stress the value of students speaking audibly
and clearly to express their thoughts and ideas, the ISTE Standards for
Students emphasize the importance of using digital media for
expression, communication and collaboration.
Implementing more than one set of standards may seem like a tall order for
educators, but it isn’t. The ISTE Standards and Common Core integrate seamlessly
when students are encouraged to use digital resources to hone their skills.
Practice communication with voice recordings
One way to get students to perfect their communication skills is to use voice
recorders or audio software to practice speaking clearly and at an
understandable pace. You can use voice recordings for various subjects, grade
levels and lesson types.
Here are a few ideas for using voice recorders in common classroom
Presentations. Older students can record the final draft
of a speech or presentation so they can hear how it sounds and make
adjustments before they present to an audience.
Stories. Primary students can record a student-created or
favorite story to practice fluency. When young learners record themselves
saying their favorite nursery rhyme, they get the opportunity to hear just
what they sound like and determine where they need improvement.
Book talks. Students of any age can create a short book
talk of their favorite or recently read book. These recordings can be an
English language arts performance task and be accessible in the school library
to help other students decide if the book is something they’d like to read.
Math facts. Let students record themselves reciting their
math facts. When they listen to their recording, have them identify which
facts they are having trouble with.
Here are some voice recording tools you can use on various devices:
Web tools for desktops and laptops
Vocaroo. This free
website is simple to use, so it doesn’t require much instruction. Everything
you need to know to get started is covered in this screencast. Students click a
button to start and stop the recording. They can replay and re-record until
they are satisfied with the outcome. Then they can save the files as MP3s or
QR codes and embed them in blog posts, use them in presentations, email them
to teachers or parents, or share them in a digital invitation to a school
This is a free program for PC or Mac. Like Vocaroo, Audacity allows
students to record, playback and save their recordings. Watch this
screencast to see how it’s done. There are more bells and whistles on
Audacity, but creating a voice recording is simple. Students hit “Record” and
start talking. Audacity allows you to save as a WAV or MP3 file, so students
can use their recordings for various projects.
Apps for iOS devices
Recorder.This iPhone/iPad app
has both a free and paid version. Students record their voices by hitting the
red “Record” button. Once the recording is finished, students name the file
and email it. The recipient can then open the file using QuickTime. A word of
caution: If using the free version, the file must be no larger than 5 MB to
Recorder. This is another iPhone/iPad
app with both a free and paid version. Students tap the big red button to
record or stop recording. The paid version allows users to append to existing
recordings, choose from three levels of recording quality, and email
recordings from the app or send to Dropbox. Be aware that the free version
Videoconferencing for two-way communication
Eventually you’ll want your students to practice using digital tools to
communicate with peers and experts. A number of free resources allow
videoconferencing from multiple devices and platforms. Videoconferencing is a
great way to connect entire classrooms or allow students to work in teams with
peers around the globe using free group calling.
Here are a couple of ways to use videoconferencing in the classroom:
Mystery Skype. Probably the most popular videoconferencing
activity is Mystery
Skype. This is when two classrooms connect over a videoconference and the
students ask each other questions to figure out where the other class lives.
This is a great way to connect speaking and listening skills or to teach
geography and culture in a fun way.
Guest speakers. For middle and high school students, a
videoconference can also bring a large spectrum of experts into the classroom.
From NASA employees talking about a recent mission to college graduate
students discussing their field of study, videoconferencing allows students to
connect with their passions and curiosities.
To get started, check out the top three free videoconferencing tools:
Skype. You can use
Skype on almost any device, including computers, a variety of tablets,
smartphones, iPod touches, internet TV, Skype-ready landlines, and even your
Xbox or PlayStation. Skype allows group calls of up to 25 people, and you can
even hook up with a landline, but that costs extra. Educators should check out
Skype in the Classroom, where
you’ll find experts and schools to connect with as well as lesson plans.
Hangouts. Google’s free videoconferencing app is also available
on phones, computers and tablets. Google Hangouts offers free group calls that
can be livestreamed and recorded. Google Hangouts can include up to 10 users
in one call. If livestreamed, others can view the call just like they would a
FaceTime. FaceTime is
a built-in app on all iOS devices that have cameras. It’s limited in that you
can only talk to one person at a time and it’s only available on iOS. If your
district provides iOS devices for the classroom, FaceTime is a good way to
connect with others in your district.
Eva Harvell has been an elementary teacher and tech integration
specialist at Pascagoula School District in southeast Mississippi for 12 years.
She connects with K-12 educators around the work and loves to help them
integrate technology into daily classroom activities. She presents at numerous
technology conferences and was named the 2013 Tech&Learning Leader of the
Year. Follow her on Twitter @techie_teach.