Language arts has always been what I love to teach the most. I love teaching the love and reading and the skill of writing, but I equally feel speaking and listening is important when getting a balanced literacy approach in place. Students must be able to listen to others, as well as articulate their own thinking in ways that others can see and understand. To say the least I believe this is something we must work on with students alongside the reading and writing component of our literacy instruction.
Last month, I worked on listening and speaking lessons with first grade using Toontastic focusing on story elements through creating their very own digital story. I used @iThinkWrite headphones and discovered so much about teaching little ones speaking and listening.
What I like about these, particularly when using them with 6 year olds, is that they are quite durable. Sure, I reviewed care of the headphones, but I was really impressed with how they held up when shared among several students. With little hands using them, then passing them off, I always wait for something to break. These held up great with kids taking their own initiative to use and share. I also loved not hearing “these hurt my ears”. It is really hard to find headphones that fit snug on little ones, while not being uncomfortable. The fact that I had no complaints in the comfort department for once was a big win!
While comfort and durability is important, at the end of the day, we as teachers want to know how this will make our students stronger learners, and you know of course I looked for that while these kiddos worked. I compared the students not using the headphones to those who were. Those not using them were using a shouting voice to record. They felt they needed to get over the background noise in the room, which didn’t allow for clear speaking voices in their story. On the other hand, once the headphones removed that background noise, students instead spoke softer and with better clarity. It was as if they could actually hear themselves think, and as a result, they could put their story together more clearly. That is a big win in my book! While I think I would want to teach students to speak a bit louder even when using the microphone, I loved that they showed more focus and ability to deliver a good story to share. Think Write Headphones will be a big part of next year when **spoiler alert** I make a bold move out of teaching technology back to my first love.. teaching in the classroom. That my friends, is a blog to come. It is simple things like these that make me certain I have a huge journey ahead that I can’t wait to share more of!
Jaime Vandergrift is an experienced educator, speaker, and advocate for advancing educational practices through digital literacy and blended learning experiences. She holds an EdS and certification in Instructional Technology and Media, and believes in the power of personalized professional learning and collaboration in education.
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