After implementing my speaking project, what did I think?
How would you approach another project of this type differently given what you’ve learned here? I would definitely try a project like this next year. In fact, over the summer I hope to create a series of lessons that incorporate drop.io and lingtlanguage – perhaps one or two per chapter. I want the kids to get used to them and to start thinking about what we’re learning as a communicative tool that they’ll have to use. For now it will be for this assignment but, hopefully, it can be with their penpals later and then who knows? But making speaking assignments an integral part of each lesson, they will become more comfortable, hopefully. I will also try to work in a few of the other tools I talked about in the first post, but will need time to try those out so I can see how easy and effective they are.
What are the lessons learned that others might benefit from knowing about? Hopefully, if you listen to the audio post below, you’ll be able to avoid a few of the pitfalls we encountered.
- First, I was shocked at how poorly my students followed directions. This led to many of the other issues we had. So, warn them that, if they don’t follow the steps, they will suffer. The first time I won’t have it affect their grades, but from then on it will.
- Make sure students dial the drop.io number carefully! Be sure they speak loudly. Also, have a phone at the ready for kids who don’t have cell phones or who don’t want to spend their minutes on the call.
- On the lingtlanguage site, I had trouble getting the YouTube video I embedded to play at school. You should definitely try all the links ahead of time – at school – because just because they work at home doesn’t mean anything.
- Be sure students initialize the microphones correctly – maybe even type out the steps for them, even though the site walks them through it – so they don’t lose all the information they’ve entered into the site if they have to go back and initialize the microphones later.
- I was really surprised by how difficult the students found plugging in the headsets (pink to pink, green to green). Next time I’m sure it wouldn’t be as difficult for them, but I’m purchasing the USB mic/headset combo to avoid that hassle.
- Finally, be sure to play back responses with the class the following day, stressing what they did well. The kids loved hearing themselves and got a much better idea of what I expected by hearing good from their classmates.
In what ways will you endeavor to do the same project again, and what will you change or not do? As I said before, I’m definitely going to use this again. I’ll change the mic/headsets, print out copies of the mic. initialization steps and walk them through it on the LED projector in the lab BEFORE anyone logs in. I would avoid the video for now, until I can determine if it is a streaming issue or a blocking issue and get it taken care of. I would love to have the video capability – there is so much cool stuff out there – but I need to be able to count on it working. I would also like to include some polleverywhere (polleverywhere.com) or polldaddy (polldaddy.com) polls on there, but realized that I need to shorten the URLs because the linglanguage page cuts them off after a certain number of characters so they didn’t work. Finally, I would leave oral feedback next time. I didn’t this year because I couldn’t get any more lab time for the kids to go back in and listen to my recorded feedback; I just wrote it out. But, I think I could do a lot more with spoken feedback – especially to address pronunciation issues.
But, I think this is definitely worth a try. These sites aren’t hard to learn and the kids got a lot out of the experience!