Archive for the ‘Oral Language’ Category

Rererecording with AudioNote

Posted on: November 20th, 2013 by Chris Loat

Just returned from Homma Elementary where librarian Carole Wilson is having some grade 3/4 French Immersion students create animations with the istopmotion app on the iPad. Students had completed taking the photos for the animation and were ready to record the audio voice-over.

Before recording the audio, students practiced the narration of the animation by reading their scripts and recording themselves with AudioNote app on the iPad. Students were shown how to record and playback their narration with the app, and then found a quiet place in the library to practice. Students recorded, listened, rerecorded, listened again, and even tried it a third time. This practice proved useful for speaking their script in a fluent and clear voice. The repetition of oral language was beneficial for some as they required repeated attempts to pronounce their words correctly. Working in partners also gave students another means of feedback to ensure they are pronouncing the word properly. This iterative process is very important for language development and having the feedback loop by tapping the playback button gave the students a great idea of how they were pronouncing the language.

Using the App ’30 Hands’ in a Math Lesson Related to Multiplication

Posted on: November 7th, 2013 by Chris Loat 3 Comments

I paid a visit to my friend Patrece’s grade 4/5 classroom and I introduced her students to the app ’30 Hands’. For those who don’t know about this app, it is an app in which students take photos and put them into a slide show and then do a voice over for each slide. The students can then export their creation as a movie. I call these creations ‘Audio Slideshows’ and are a quick and effective way for students to explain their understanding or what they know.

The lesson I led integrated ’30 Hands’ with Math. The students were to make an audio slide show of different arrays they could find in the classroom. This helped with their understanding of the concept of multiplication and reinforced their basic facts. We did a quick review of what an array was and then we took a look around their room for examples of different arrays that were already in their classroom. Students pointed out the tote trays, their display of art work on a bulletin board, and the calendar were all examples of arrays.

Then is was time to take photos. We talked briefly about taking good photos and pointed out that all of the parts of the array need to be in the photo. Conversely, students could take photos of only part of an array if the array was too big. Students opened the app we navigated to the slide screen, after which they were sent off to take five photos of different arrays in or near the classroom.

After taking their photos, we reconvened the students and looked at what information needed to be included in their audio recording for each photo: 1) name the array in two ways  2) give the multiplication sentence and related facts  3) provide the answer to each multiplication sentence. We also talked about speaking clearly and loud enough so their voices could be easily heard, and about the fact they might need to find a quiet place near the classroom to do their recording.

Students then went off to find a quiet place to record. Most students found they had to do two or more takes for each slide, but eventually they all recorded their narrations for each slide with the relevant information. Students then exported their audio slide show as a movie and we shared them with the class with the classroom projector. I find the students are more apt to complete a well crafted product if they know it will be shared with the rest of the class. Below are a couple of samples of the student movies.

Was it a useful lesson for the kids? Absolutely, as it not only solidified their understanding of arrays and multiplication, but also introduced them to a very useful app. I remember one student in particular who did not fully understand how arrays connected to the concept of multiplication, but while rehearsing the narrations for her photos, the light bulb went on and she had a big smile on her face. Was it the verbal rehearsing or the visual in front of her, or the combination of the two that helped her understand? I wish I had asked, but one thing I know is that when students utilize verbal and visual information, there is a greater likelihood they will better understand concepts.

Using Toontastic in the Classroom

Posted on: October 24th, 2013 by Chris Loat

The app Toontastic allows students to create an animation in which they move characters and provide the audio to narrate / explain their animation.  The results is an animated cartoon in which their characters speak, and the combination of moving characters and audio recordings often results in a well crafted product. This app is a favourite among many students as it allows students to express their toontastic website, called toontube, dedicated online repository for publishing student creations.
Screenshot of some student
work from Toontube

understanding or emotions with verbal rather than written language and allows students to creatively show what they know in a variety of ways. Student work can be published online at the 

Allowing the students to explore Toontastic often proves useful in getting the students to understand how it works. The free version of the app has some built in settings and characters; students also have the option to create their own setting and characters with a basic paint tool built into the app. Unfortunately they are not able to import images or characters created outside of the app. The app has a  built in storyboard template for the telling of a story and is organized into 5 scenes: Setup / Conflict / Challenge / Climax / Resolution. Students can add or eliminate these scenes or can disregard them altogether (if they are going to animate a non-fiction piece of work or a poem). Whatever format they choose, Toontastic provides an alternative way for students to communicate their information and, IMHO, is one of the more versatile apps on the iPad.
Tips for using the app
  • Be sure the students record their voices in a relatively quiet place as the iPad picks up background noise.
  • Students should rehearse their lines as it is a bit tedious to review and redo each scene. Most students will need more than one trial for each scene, but rehearsing their lines will limit the number of ‘takes’.
  • Doing the work in groups works quite well as this lends itself to multiple voices and more than one character moving at a time.
  • Remind students to use emotion in their voices as the character’s don’t show facial expression to show how they are feeling.
Ideas for Using the App
  1. After writing a fable or myth, have students create custom characters and settings, then narrate their story. (see the below example of a First Nations legends created by a grade 5 student )
  2. Use the characters to develop a balance of dialogue and narrative in their creative stories. Often, students will only have dialogue when experimenting with the app, so practicing with the narrative explanations helps develop this aspect of writing.
  3. Animate a poem they wrote.
  4. Create a cartoon version of a novel read in class that contains a similar problem / solution.
  5. Animate some reading responses that involve the interaction between two or more people (e.g. some of the action strategies developed by Jeffrey Wilhelm).
  6. Tell a news story and use the animation as live video footage of the story.
  7. Practice French vocabulary. For vocabulary, students can create objects with the draw/paint tool and then record a sentence (or just the word) as they move the object
  8. Practice French conversations. Students can use the stock characters and record a basic French conversation between them. Or ESL students can practice conversations in English with the characters.
  9. Create a conversation between geometric shapes and highlight their properties.
  10. Narrate and animate the steps of a process in Science. For example, student could draw the different phases of the water cycle as their setting and then have arrows and labels as characters that are brought in when each phase is explained.

Using Screencasting in the Classroom

Posted on: October 18th, 2013 by Chris Loat

When teaching students in the upper grades, one type of question they do not like is the ‘Explain Your Thinking’ type of question. Sometimes, students just want to get the answer and move on. Being one of those students when I was in grade 6, I understand that; I got the answer correct and I wanted to just finish the work. However we know that students who are able to reflect on the processes they use to solve problems will be better able to utilize these processes in different situations. 

The iPad has come to the rescue and made it easier to utilize screencasting to complete this type of work. Students are now able to do work on the iPad and record their verbal explanation of the work they are doing. There are many apps that allow for this type of work, including Doceri, ShowMe, Explain Everything, ScreenChomp, and Educreations. Regardless of which one you choose, these apps are able to synchronously record both pen strokes and audio to create a screencast. I like the app Doceri as it is free, it has a variety of tools, can use multiple screens, and it allows for easy sharing.
Ideas for Integrating Screencasting into your Curriculum
 
1. Math:

  • the teacher can explain a Math concept and post it online for students to use if they forget or struggle with learning the concept
  • pose an exemplar type question and allow students to answer it using Doceri, then email it to you to keep as evidence of their learning
  • students can also explain a Math concept and post this online for others to learn from
  • load a hundreds chart on the iPad and show / explain different number patterns (or load any other black line master used in Math to explain other Math concpets)

2. Science:

  • the teacher can explain a Science concept and post it online for students to use if they forget or struggle with learning the concept
  • students can explain the steps of a cycle or process (students should load the photos on the screen before recording their explanations)
  • students can take a photo of an important part of an experiment and have students explain its importance or the explanation of what happenend and why

3. Social Studies:

  • the teacher can explain a Social Studies concept and post it online for students to use if they forget or struggle with learning the concept
  • students can load a map on the screen and explain why settlements / cities are often located along particular geographic features (e.g. rivers)
  • students can create a slideshow of photos about a particular topic (e.g. Ancient Egypt) and give a verbal explanation of each slide

4. Language Arts:

  • students can load a photo of their poem and read it aloud, then send it to their teacher as evidence of their oral reading and use of expression
  • students can load a photo of a setting and highlight/verbally explain the parts they could describe in their writing
  • students can load a photo (about any topic) and verbally explain how the photo could be incorporated into a creative story or poem; pre-talking before writing often works for students rather than silent brainstorming
  • students can read aloud a passage and while reading, make connections (text to self, text to text, text to world); underline the part of the book and then verbally explain their connection

5. Physical Eduation:

  • the teacher or student can load photos of the finishing position or important position of an exercise or skill to show students and explain to them how to complete an exercise or skill
  • the teacher or student can load photos of basic offensive strategy or defensive zone coverage in basketball (or any other sport) and explain the key strategic points

6. Art:

  • students can take a photo of their own art piece t and explain the process used to create it
  • students can make a slideshow of some pieces of their own art and give a verbal reflection about their own work
  • the teacher can take a photo of a person’s face and draw lines showing the proportional position of different parts of the face
Have fun making your screencasts. They are a great way for kids to show what they know.

Using the App ‘Book Creator’ in the Classroom

Posted on: October 4th, 2013 by Chris Loat

The app ‘Book Creator’ is a versatile and intuitively set-up app that allows students to easily create digital content in a variety of ways. In Richmond, teachers have used their iPads and ‘Book Creator’ to publish ebooks on a variety of topics and in a variety of genres. Below are some ideas for using ‘Book Creator’ in your classroom.

1. How To… Books
Kirsten Wallace at Steves Elementary first taught a series of lessons on procedural writing to her grade 5 class. After learning the skills required for procedural writing, the students used the app ‘Book Creator’ on the iPad to explain ‘How To Tie a Shoe’. Each student wrote about this topic and explained the process with text, photos, audio recordings, and video. The ebooks were shared with their little buddies in grade 1 (a true test if their explanations were clear!). The next assignment was to explain the steps to their Science experiment for the annual district Science Jam event. Again, the students used the app ‘Book Creator’ on the iPads to write, verbally explain, and show with photos/videos the series of steps for their Science experiment. Students used the performance standards (adapted to student language) to self-evaluate their assignment on ‘How To Tie a Shoe’ and then made changes to improve their work. Using ‘Book Creator’ allowed for easy edits to the digital work the kids had completed so far. These same criteria were used to self-assess their Science experiment procedures and make changes along the way.

Steps 3 and 4 of ‘How To Tie a Shoe’ ebook. Students used
both video and audio recordings to help explain the process.

2. Collaborative Books
Sandy Sanderson and Susan Fawcus at Kingswood Elementary used ‘Book Creator’ to make a collaborative ABC book on Ancient China, their theme for Social Studies. Each student was given a letter of the alphabet and came up with an idea that started with their letter and connected to Ancient China. Students researched the topic and presented their information on one page in ‘Book Creator’. The pages contained text, images, audio explanations and videos. Some students created their own videos with the animation app ‘NFB Pixstop’ or by video taping themselves with the iPad camera, and then embedded them into their page. When their page was done, students emailed their work to the teacher who collated all pages into one book.

Cover page for the ABC ebook on Ancient China.
One page from the ABC ebook on Ancient China. The video is
an animation made with NFB Pixstop which was then embedded in the book.
Another page from the ABC ebook on Ancient China. The
video is a recording the students took with the iPad camera.

Another idea for a collaborative book is to give primary students a sentence starter to complete (e.g. One spooky night, I saw…). Students made a page in ‘Book Creator’ and wrote their completed sentence on the page. They then illustrated their sentence with a drawing app (e.g. Doodle Buddy or Drawing Box). After the drawing was finished, students saved it to their camera roll on the iPad and then placed it on the ‘Book Creator’ page. When the page was finished, students emailed it to their teacher who collated the pages into one ‘Book Creator’ book.

Cover page for the collaborative ebook ‘One Spooky Night’.
First 2 pages of the ebook ‘One Spooky Night’.

3. Non-fiction Books
Sonya O’Neill at Steveston London Secondary had her Spanish 9 students learn about a Spanish speaking country by researching the country and then making an ebook. Students were asked to incorporate Spanish on each page, and since the audio function in ‘Book Creator’ is easy to incorporate, it was a favourite among the students to complete this part of the criteria. Other students also video taped themselves speaking Spanish and included these videos in their books. At the end of the project, students did a presentation about their country by sharing the book on a flat screen TV.

Two pages from an ebook about Argentina. Audio buttons
beside the page titles play student recordings in Spanish.
Video files were embedded on different pages to show clips
of life in Argentina.

4. Photo Book

When she taught at Blair Elementary, Janice Novakowski would take photographs during walking field trips and would make photo books for the class to reflect on the following day. Using ‘Book Creator’, she would present each photo on its own page, along with a simple sentence for the Gr. 1 students to read. Since the iPads were set to automatically sync books, the book could be put on all 30 iPads for each student to see.

Cover page for the photo ebook of a walking field trip.
Pages of photos and simple text for the Grade 1 photo
ebook of a walking field trip.

Represent Your Understanding Orally on the iPad

Posted on: September 17th, 2013 by Chris Loat

The iPad has become a versatile tool that students can use to represent what they know in a variety of ways. One feature that separates the iPad from other tech tools is the ability to easily record students’ voices with visuals, thus tapping into students’ verbal and kinesthetic intelligences. Earlier, I reviewed some different screencasting apps, which allow students to orally explain their ideas. The below apps incorporate characters (1a,b,c) or still photos (#2-5) with oral explanations to generate a verbal and visual product.
1. a) Sock Puppets - Lets students create their own lip-synched videos and share them on Facebook and YouTube. Add Puppets, props, scenery, and backgrounds and start creating. Hit the record button and the puppets automatically lip-synch to your voice. The app is free, but need the paid version ($0.99) to save creations to the iPad’s camera roll.

b) 

Toontastic - Students produce their own animated short story by moving pre-made characters and recording the dialogue. Students can also make their own backgrounds and characters. Also has a support page and a paid version (all-access pass is $19.99).

c) Puppet Pals – Students can create a virtual puppet show with this app that has various sets and characters in the free version (and many more in the paid version). After selecting the characters and set, move the characters while you speak and movements and sounds will be recorded. Paid version ($2.99) also allows for custom sets and characters (e.g. your own photo).
2. 30 Hands - Create a photo / image slideshow, then add narration for each slide to produce a narrated slideshow. Great for students who are reluctant writers, students who are working to improve verbal fluency, and students who want to have fun telling their story. This app allows the user to draw on the photos before recording their voice for the photo (e.g. can circle a certain part of a photo and then talk about it). Export options include sending the finished video as a .mov file to the camera roll. The app is currently free.


3. PixntellAdd voice to your photo slideshow with pixntell. Has an intuitive interface that is easy for younger kids to use. Free version gives you only 5 photos, which forces the students to be thoughtful in the photos they choose. Paid version ($1.99) allows for up to 70 photos to be added.

4. VoiceThread - Combines a screencasting and slideshow creating together.  Load a photo/image and add an audio note while marking up / annotating the image with your finger. Visit their support page. Online account needed to share and view. The app is free.

5. Sonic Pics  – Students can load a bunch of photos, record your voice for each photo, and show them in a slideshow; however it does cost $2.99. Export the slideshow to your camera roll for easy sharing.