Audacity: Your Voice, Anywhere

It is important to motivate students in class. The lack of attention leads to lower results and failure. While it might be hard to bring a guitar in class and show off your skills, it’s easy to buy a microphone. Equipped with the proper recording material, anyone can turn a boring lecture into a wonderful show.
If you want to record your voice, you will need a microphone. If you want to record your instruments, you can either use your microphone or an audio interface plugged in the computer. When this step is completed, all you need is a good software to record everything. Audacity comes in handy.

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Description

Audacity is a recording software available on Windows, Mac and Linux. It is completely free and offers a wide variety of options for beginners and professionals. This software is open source, which means everybody can access the source code to study it (programs like Firefox and OpenOffice are also open source). Being open source allows the software to be upgraded by any programmer who dares exploring the code of Audacity.

Voice and music recording

When your microphone is set and ready to use, it is time to record. Audacity is used to record live audio performance. This can be done with your voice, your guitar, your piano and even your pets. There are no limits to what you can record on Audacity; the microphone will do the job. After the software is installed, press the Record  button and let it all out. Once completed, it will look like this:

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(Note: The interface can change depending on your operating system)

Now it is time to edit your recording. Audacity allows you to configure many things about your tape, such as: the pitch, the tone, the bass, the speed, etc. You can split, cut, delete and copy all the segments you want. It is also possible to record over your previous tracks (to simulate conversations for example). Most importantly, the software has a feature which reduces the background noise. This is important when you want your tape to sound more professional. The full list of features is available here.

The modifying features are great for voice recording, but they are weak when it comes to music recording. As a frequent user of Audacity on a personal basis, the features come short when I want to record guitar or bass tracks. Nonetheless, the sound quality is impeccable. If you wish to add some extra features to your guitar tracks, I recommend using devices like the Line 6 POD Studio (more information available on the website).

Voiceover and Video Applications

The recordings you make on Audacity can be used on their own. The tracks can easily simulate a conversation or an announcement to use inside your class. If you are willing to go the extra mile, it is possible to use Audacity in order to record over videos or images. You can easily become the narrator of any story you want to show to your students. Moreover, it is possible to do weird and funny voices over a video by removing the actual speech of the video used. All those possibilities can be done using the software called Windows Movie Maker (free and available for all Windows users). Here is a tutorial on how to create a movie using Windows Movie Maker. As I said before, this is useful for teachers who have a lot of imagination and spare time. Editing videos is difficult and time consuming, but incredibly fun when you become familiar with it. The best way to do so is by experiencing each software on your own!

Applications for ESL Teaching

Using Audacity increases the number of activities a teacher can use in his class. Relying on videos and audiotapes is an effective way to get students’ attention according to the National Teacher Training Institute. Instead of using the same repetitive paper tasks throughout the year, teachers can come up with new activities and lessons. As an ESL teacher in training, I would use this software to record music since I have been working with music for as long as I can remember. I won’t bring my electric guitar in class because of the amount of noise it produces. However, I can definitely record songs and musical arrangements at home using Audacity. If it does not please students, voiceovers and narrations will attract their attention more than regular lectures using the old schoolboard. It is not necessarily more effective, but it will help students who think plain lectures are boring.

Link to Audacity Official Website: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
Professional Guidelines for Editing with Audacity: http://diyvideoeditor.com/cleaning-a-voice-track-with-audacity/

Publicités

Class Dojo: Managing your classroom online

Now, let’s get serious. Being an ESL teacher in progress, I have the chance to meet and share with a high school cooperative teacher. He introduced me to a lot of websites and softwares used during his classes. Most of them were fantastic, but Class Dojo grabbed my attention more than the others.

Class Dojo is a website (available on the App Store) used by the teacher and the students to improve the communication between everyone. While it is mostly used by the teacher, both students and parents can access the page of their designated classroom. Students begin with a difficult choice: their avatar. These are funny-looking characters which can be customized in order to please every student. When this is done, the teacher can look at the Class Dojo and see every student logged in with their personal avatar. This is where the fun comes in.

Class Dojo allows the teacher to share data with students and parents. Instead of having to write tons of email, the teacher can give positive or negative feedback on students’ behavior inside the class. For example, when a student is trying to use the L2 in class, the teacher can add a positive point to this student’s profile. However, when a student didn’t complete the homework or is talking too loud, the teacher can instantly remove a point. Everyone can see the results on the SmartBoard or on their personal device. Moreover, the teacher can send a report to the parents of every student.

Tasia Fields, an English teacher in Illinois, said: “Before, I could only tell parents at a high-level about a student’s behavior, and without it grounded in actual examples. And now I can actually show them their son or daughter’s weekly and monthly percentages for behavior, with notes on what occurred!” This software can be useful to indicate problems among students, but it is also a powerful tool to congratulate positive behavior.

Michael Olson, a 5th grade teacher in Minnesota, saw the importance of Class Dojo. He lets students get settled before watching their behavior. As soon as he sees a student beginning the homework, Michael gives out a point to this student (giving points make sounds if the volume is high enough). This can lead other students to adapt the same demeanor.

PROS

  • Completely free for teachers.
  • Easily accessible within the class and even from your home.
  • Available as an App to use on almost every personal devices (Cellphones, tablets, laptops, etc).
  • Incredibly easy to use for teachers and students.
  • Increases positive behavior in the class.

CONS

  • Might be considered too childish for high school students and adults.
  • Allowing feedback to be seen by everyone can have a negative effect on sensitive students.

ESL Teacher Review

I didn’t have the chance to use Class Dojo a lot yet. Although, I agree with the fact that it provides a lot of useful resources to the class. Students’ behavior is difficult to handle correctly. Now that we see tablets and cellphones allowed in class for pedagogical purposes, Class Dojo is becoming more popular. According to the website page, more than 35 million people are actually using Class Dojo (teachers,students and parents included). I will use this class management tool as much as I can during my practicum. It may look childish, but it is incredibly fun to use. I would recommand it to every teacher who uses personal devices and SmartBoard in their classes. Have I mentioned that it is free?

Here is the official website: Class Dojo

Following is a great tutorial on how to use the software: Class Dojo Tutorial