The Most Amazing Thing

“This is the most amazing thing I have ever done in my whole, whole life.”

—1st grade student reflection after listening to his audio recording of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar

 Today I introduced Blue FiRe during reading workshop.  Blue FiRE is a FREE audio recording app.  We love those free apps!  In first grade I use Blue FiRe as a tool to promote fluency.  Students read short selections of “just right” text into their iPad and then self-assess their fluency by monitoring rate, clarity and expression.  Students record their reading and make multiple attempts until their reading sounds nice and smooth.

Today I modeled for the group how to make an audio recording.  I showed students how to go back and listen to their recording and how to change the file name and save it as their first name.  Because I wanted to use this initial recording experience as a baseline sample for all students, each child selected a poem to read and record from their poetry binder.  Students are familiar with the poems from their binder as we have practiced them several times in the past few weeks. The text is predictable and short; each poem contains approximately 30 words.

After a short period of independent practice, I called students back to the rug and modeled how to use headphones and a microphone.  Each child has his own pair of Apple earbud headphones with the built in microphone.  All headphones are numbered to correspond with the iPad device number for easy organization, location and sanitation (ex. iPad 3 pairs with the headphones marked “3”).

I showed my class how to plug the headphones into the iPad and how to hold the section of the earpiece with the microphone close to my ear so that the microphone dangled near my mouth.  I modeled how even a whisper voice could be recorded using the microphone and how it made it easier to hear individual student voices and minimized background noise.

I then provided more time for student practice—this time with the headphones.  As I walked around the room and observed my students record and listen to their reading, I saw many smiles. A few self-conscious faces ducked inside t-shirts as children were surprised by the actual sound of their recorded voice.  After the initial recordings, I watched students make second and third attempts; with each recording their confidence grew.  By the end of the 30-minute period several students branched out and were creating news and weather reports!

I realized that most children had not previously heard a recording of their voice.  They were so motivated by these audio recordings!  As a result, my students were reading everything they could get their hands on!  After observing one child read Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, he listened to his Blue FiRe recording with a huge grin on his face.  Once his recording ended, he turned to the child next to him and exclaimed, “This is the most amazing thing I have ever done in my whole, whole life!”

In the next few weeks, Blue FiRe and these types of fluency recordings will become a part of our weekly routine.  My students are motivated and cannot wait to use Blue FiRe again.  After watching today’s initial attempts, I’m thrilled to imagine what they’ll be able to do in a few months! Stay tuned…

About Kristin

Kristin Ziemke has spent her career teaching and learning from children in both urban and suburban school districts. A first grade teacher in Chicago, Kristin engages students in authentic learning experiences where reading, thinking, collaboration and inquiry are at the heart of the curriculum. Co-author of Connecting Comprehension and Technology, Kristin pairs best practice instruction with digital tools to transform learning in the classroom and beyond. An Apple Distinguished Educator, National Board Certified Teacher and Chicago’s 2013 Tech Innovator of the Year, Kristin seeks opportunities to transform education through technology innovation. She inspires educators around the globe as a staff developer, speaker and writer. To learn more about her work follow her on Twitter @KristinZiemke.
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