Commenting and Reflecting

Image by David Castillo Dominici

The first graders finished their nursery rhyme podcasts and had a chance to listen back to each other’s recordings. After each one the class had a chance to give helpful comments and compliments to the podcaster. We talked about what kind of comment would be useful and how to give a specific compliment. We brainstormed and came up with commenting on voice clarity, loudness, smoothness and expressiveness. Some of the compliments that the students gave each other were, “I like how your voice sounded loud,” “I like how you spoke clearly,” or “The Pre-K students will be able to understand you because you said each word by itself.” Good commenting is something that takes practice and modeling; we will continue to make this part of the process.

Another area we are exploring with the first graders is reflecting on their work; thinking about the process, what they did, how they did it, what they did well and what could be improved. Reflecting on their work will be something we will be asking the students to do and is something they will grow into. We started by asking the students to reflect on their nursery rhyme podcasts. Here is some of what we got:

  • “It felt good because I want the pre-k-ers to read by the time they are in first grade.”
  • “I listened to all the ones I read and then I found one that was perfect. It made me feel good.”
  • “I liked working with a partner, but next time I would like to try it myself.”
  • “Every time I did it loud enough, I forgot to introduce myself; every time I introduced myself, I was too quiet. So I kept trying until I got it right.”

I believe you will agree that the first graders are off to a good start!

First Graders, Nursery Rhymes and Garageband

Photo by Dan

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!

Photo by Dan