The first grade teachers in my school have been very enthusiastic about the move toward integrating technology more seamlessly throughout their curriculum. In fact, we have met almost weekly to talk about ways we can do this. One of the goals in first grade is for the students to become more fluent readers and we decided to use Garageband to help us with this objective.
The idea was to have the students start with something familiar like a nursery rhyme and then practice reading it while recording a podcast. The students would listen to their recording, decide what they could do to improve it and re-record as they consider necessary until they had it just right. To make this more purposeful for the students, the recordings would be for our Pre-K students’ listening center. A colorful book of these rhymes would accompany a CD of the students’ recordings. As you can imagine, the first grade students were very excited by this idea and eagerly set to the task of selecting a nursery rhyme that they would perfect through reading and re-reading.
When the time came to introduce Garageband, I showed the students the tool buttons they would need to use, how to delete a recording, how to insert a new recording and how to move the cursor back and forth along the track. I then recorded a couple of rhymes for them to critique so they could decide what a good recording sounds like. They all thought my first reading was great until they heard my second one which they said was slower and more smooth. My third was the best because it sounded the happiest (it had the most expression).
Then it was their turn to give it a try. All I can say is “Wow!” They loved this and were so good about listening back to their podcasts and deciding it needed to be slower, or they needed to speak more clearly or with more expression, or they needed to move to a quieter place. Many must have reread and re-recorded their rhymes at least ten times before deciding that they had it just right. It was so exciting to see the students find quiet places around the school and make these recordings. When they selected the one that was their best, we sent it to i-tunes and then moved it to a shared folder on our network so they could listen to each other’s.
The students really enjoyed this and are already talking about how they want to read and record a whole story next time. To me, that is the one of the best outcomes of the project!