Friday, 9 October 2009

A mission for the new intake

Are you a teacher looking for ideas for the new intake? Does your school have any of those hand-held USB sound recorders such as the Easi-Speak? Then this may be for you.

I moved house recently and was struck by all the different sounds that contributed my new environment. Your new students may not have articulated it but I imagine the new sounds they have encountered since joining the school must have made an impression. I have described the Easi-Speak recording microphones in earlier blogs but any similar recording device would do for this exercise and many mobile phones will record sound in adequate quality. Form teams of three, one team for each recording device. That gives you one ‘leader’, one to operate the device and one to log the recorded sounds on paper. The leader is the least necessary of the three but can keep their ears open and suggest new sounds to record, freeing up the others to concentrate on their tasks. You could also make them responsible for ensuring the written record tallies with the clips on the recorder.

If possible, issue the recorders at the start of the day and collect them at the end. In the next lesson you can ask each group to play back the clips and invite the other children to identify the sounds they hear. The quality of the results will depend on many factors, not least the ability of the children to handle the technology. Don’t stint on the training here; and that means familiarising yourself with whatever technology you’re issuing. In my experience most children know their own mobile phones inside out so you needn’t worry in that regard. You will also need to reproduce the sound at sufficient volume. The Easi-Speak and most mobile phones have headphone sockets for a standard sized mini-jack so this should not pose a problem.

So what are the benefits of this exercise? Well, they are manifold. It
  • builds confidence in using the technology.
  • improves presentation skills.
  • promotes independent learning.
  • encourages co-operation.
  • develops powers of aural observation.
  • familiarises children with their new environment.
  • provides an opportunity to repay trust.

A word to the wise: If you are using Easi-Speaks make sure they are charged up, set to record in whichever format you prefer (WAV or mp3) and the memories are clean before you begin. My informal road test may also be worth a read.

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