This is the 19th post in the “30 days to using the best of the web’s free tools for educators” series. Be sure to subscribe to the Teacher Challenge blog by RSS, like us on facebook, and follow us on twitter to keep up with future challenge posts as they are published.
I think one of the most powerful components of multimedia writing is the capability of adding human voice. I also believe that providing students with opportunities to build their speaking skills and confidence should be an essential part of the curriculum.
- Why learn/use Audacity?
- Getting started with Audacity
- Combining the power of the human voice with blogging
- Stepping up to the Challenge
- Adding voice recorders to the Audacity mix
For a number of reasons, the FREE, cross-platform tool Audacity has become one of my favorites for helping students become more comfortable with their speaking skills. From a basic activity such as recording students’ reading fluencies to a more sophisticated project such as Rob Rozema’s growing collection of student-created YA Casts, Audacity offers many possibilities for students to improve speaking as well as listening skills.
Audacity is also pretty simple to learn. Thanks to the large community of Audacity fans, great tutorials are only a click away:
- Start with the a trip to the awesome Sue Water’s Installing, Setting Up, and Using Audacity tutorial
- If you’d prefer video tutorials, checkout Mindy McAdams‘ very comprehensive Audacity Basics and or Russell Stannard’s Audacity Training videos.
- For an extensive list of Audacity tutorials, visit my workshop wiki.
The appeal of Audacity to students is that they can edit all or just parts of a recording. Teresa Cheung’s 4th graders, for instance, have delved into Audacity to edit their Stories from Heart audio interviews. Once students see how easy it is to zoom in and delete an “er” or “um,” or shorten a pause, or amplify a section that’s too low, or remove background noise, etc., they become active sound editors.
To me, Audacity is all about the power of the human voice – and the ability to easily edit that voice. Combine Audacity with blogging and you can catapult student voices out to the world. So here comes your challenge:
- Start by exploring some of the ways other teachers are using Audacity, such as Jim Faires’ 6th graders’ time travel back to World War II to explore the power of a single “upstander” to make a difference. Or delve into Robert Rozema’s pre-service teachers’ great selection of audio snippets from Young Adult (YA) novels.
- Brainstorm ideas for using Audacity to extend teaching and learning – and student voice – in your current teaching assignment.
- Upload your Audacity files (exported as MP3s) to your blog. (To upload audio files to Edublogs, follow these easy steps.)
- Leave a comment on this blog to let the Edublogs community know about your Audacity adventure and project!
Extending the Audacity:
A great tool for extending the teaching and learning possibilities of Audacity even further is a voice recorder. For Teresa Cheung’s students, for instance, if family or community members cannot come to the school for an Audacity interview, Teresa lets the students checkout a voice recorder. I’m very impressed with the high quality of the Olympus DM-520 voice recorder – very good sound quality; very portable.
- Here’s a video tutorial for the Olympus DM-520 model.
- If you’re a PC user, you’ll want to download Switch – MP3 converter to use with Olympus voice recorder. Be sure to download the free version.
About the Author:
Gail Desler is a teacher in a large public school district in northern California. In her current position, she provides technology support to teachers, students, and staff.
Gail has been a long-time user and fan of blogging in general and Edublogs in particular. Her Blogwalker blog just celebrated its 5th birthday. Through Blogwalker, she continues to explore a question posed by the National Writing Project: what does it mean to be teaching, writing, and learning in a digital age?
You can follow Gail on Twitter @GailDesler.