From September to December 2011, I will be posting assignments for the TLDL class I am taking: EDES 501 Web2.0. Enjoy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

About a year ago the TL at my daughter's school was really excited to show me

It is an audio editor program that has been integrated into Google apps that the students at Edmonton Public Schools can access. I went home and tried to play with it because I am a curious person. I couldn't figure it out AT ALL. I was so confused that I just gave up!

Jump to September of this year: I was trying to decide what tools to play with for this inquiry when I read about a great idea in Neufeld and Smythe’s article. In Ms. L’s middle grade classroom, 20 of her 25 students were ELL. Ms. L encouraged her students to write a story, make it into an illustrated book, record the story as an audio file and upload it to the server for younger students to listen to as they read the book.

An idea instantly popped into my head: how about I create a story using Blurb and then narrate it using an audio editor?? I was so excited! I then had to decide which audio editor to use. Both Richardson (2010) and Berger and Trexler (2010) recommend using Audacity to make audio recordings. I have used Audacity for simple audio recordings and have found it quite intuitive to use. Byrne recommends using Aviary as it is completely web based, while Audacity has to be downloaded to the computer. Aviary allows teachers to create and supervise their students’ accounts. Students’ work is then saved in their accounts which can be accessed from any device that is connected to the internet. Because of my previous five minutes experience with Aviary I had to talk myself into using it. I kept telling myself that this was the time to play and investigate something difficult. 

Little did I realize how easy it was. All I needed was a little instruction.  I watched this four and a half minute video and it suddenly made sense to me. I was ready to go. It's amazing how a little information can go a long way.

The Process:
Here are two screencasts explaining the process I took to make the audio recording. 

Using Aviary Part 2:

Aviary for Personal Learning:

What did I learn from using Aviary?
1) Don't judge a Web 2.0 tool without using it.
2) Use web resources to help you learn about a Web 2.0 tool that scares you.
3) I really enjoy making audio recordings.
4) I don't feel like a fool when I am making audio recordings though I am acting like a fool.
5) Though not as chatty as I once was, I still like to talk. And I enjoy not being interrupted. That is why audio recordings are perfect for me:-)

Little Miss Chatterbox 

6)I LOVE adding music to stories. It made my initial audio recording come to life.
7) Aviary has an amazing collection of music to mix in with your audio recording.
8) There is so much more I need to learn about audio editors. I just scratched the surface of audio mixing.
9) I can honestly say that the entire process was so much fun. Talk about getting a high!

As a parent, I would encourage my daughter to make voice recordings. I think I'll use it to help her memorize her recitations that she is required to do monthly at school. Recording her poem would give her a chance to hear herself and make any changes that were necessary. My daughter has lots of personality and is a little dramatic and she loves to hear her own voice, so she would really enjoy using Aviary.

I also think it would be a great idea to record my son, who is only 17 months. His grandparents would love to hear him! I could just have him speak into my iPhone and send a quick message off, but I'd like to get some good quality recordings over the next few years and them put them all together into one recording for a great keepsake.

Aviary (or podcasting in general) for Professional Learning:
I really enjoy listening to podcasts when I exercise. My goal for the month of December is to exercise more and therefore listen to some podcasts. The way I decide which podcasts to listen to isn't very scientific. If a podcast has some music and is of good sound quality I am hooked and I listen to it. If there is only voice or the sound quality is poor, I won't listen to it. It takes too much effort! I only like listening to them on  my iPhone or on the computer while I am working on something else. Staring at a screen with just voice is not appealing to me. 

This is what I subscribe to currently:

I thought this would be a good time to look up some podcasts. In my search I found this great website created by David Warlick that's unfortunately is still in it's beginning stages.

 If you have any podcast suggestions, you can submit them via this form.

The following are the podcasts that I chose to take a listen to:

Found this podcast from Richard Byrne
The Reading Workshop: I like getting any information on literacy. 

Teacher Created Materials Podcasts: I really like their products so I'm hoping their podcasts will be just as good. 

The Teachers' Podcast: Found this just by searching online. We'll see if it's any good. 

Looked at his episode titles and thought I'd check him out. Education and Technology is what I'm all about!

Aviary for Education:

So going back to the beginning of this post, to the story of Mrs. L's students, who were creating audio recordings of their stories for younger students, we learn of the advantages of creating audio files. Throughout the process Mrs. L observed some interesting behaviours. Though some of the words in a student’s story were spelled incorrectly and his punctuation was missing, the student was still able to pronounce the words correctly and he included the proper punctuation as he read.  Another student didn’t have paragraphs in his story. As he read, he was able to tell where the natural breaks occurred. He then rewrote his story with proper paragraphing. 

I think it is so powerful that these students were able to self-correct through a medium other than writing. Self- correcting is such an important skill to have that the more ways we can teach students to do it, the better.

Connecting it back to my experience, in hindsight I would have written the story, recorded the audio, edited the story and re-recorded parts of it, because as I read I could tell where the story didn't flow well, or were my wording was awkward. But since I had already ordered the book, I couldn't go back and change it. If I were to do this again, or with students, I wouldn't finalize the writing of my story until after the first recording was complete. 

What's really nice about Aviary, is that you could make several recordings of a story and then edit them and combine the best readings to create a final project. The ability to cut and paste would make students (and me!) less weary as they try to achieve 'perfection'.

I love Readers Theatre, which is why I was eager to read an article on creating Readers Theatre PodcastsThough Readers Theatre on it's own is a great way to improve reading comprehension, Sheri Vasinda and Julie McLeod set out to discover the advantages of pairing Readers Theatre with podcasts. Their study was for 10 weeks and it included 100 students, 35 of which were struggling readers (at least one reading year behind). The following is my summary of the article:

- The goal of Readers Theatre is to make audience visualize the story. As Readers Theatre is a voice-only performance the students needed to use volume, pitch, intonation, and timing to create the visualization. In order to get to that level of performance, the students needed to really know the story, thus increasing their reading comprehension.

- Technology benefits- wider audience added authenticity and the recording process made the performance permanent thus motivating the students to produce their best work. Students evaluated their work and re-did their recordings until they were satisfied with them - didn't t just doing it once and forgot about it. 

- Results of the 35 struggling students:
Beginning mean reading score =1.09 
End mean score of the 10 weeks= 2.22 
A gain of 1.13years. 

I found this article fascinating and so exciting! To be able to engage students in this way is the whole point of technology in education. We can have technology in our classes and yet it can be meaningless (Beyond Technology for Technology's Sake). I wish I had a class to do this with! 

 Well to end this off, I loved Aviary! I expected the least from this Web 2.0 tool but I got the most from it - or maybe I just had the most fun. Not sure if those two are the same thing!


Berger, P., & Trexler, S. (2010). Choosing web 2.0 tools for learning and teaching in a digital world. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). 
                Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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