How does your learning environment encourage speaking skills?
During the first week of September, staff at my school, Colegio Brains, underwent training on how to use the latest addition to our pedagogical arsenal – the radio room. The technology isn’t very complicated and soon we were recording!
It wasn’t until months after, reflecting on a recording session with my class that I realized the true value of what was going on. Children were very motivated and on-task preparing their scripts and practicing accent and expression, something which is usually very difficult to focus on!
Speaking is the most common medium of communication by far, however we do not seem to have revolutionized how we develop speaking skills. Technology appears to be enhancing every facet of education and I think we are overlooking an innovative resource for further development of speaking skills.
The event of recording is the culmination of hours of work, and children are proud and excited to hear and share recordings. It is very different to video in that the true emphasis is in what is being said, the message is generally simple and uncomplicated by other information or media.
The end product; a professional quality sound-file is more than enough motivation to encourage learners of any age to prepare, record and evaluate. The importance of audience is also elevated. Is this for your friends to listen to, or are we sending a podcast to the Her Majesty The Queen?
Children can begin by designing a catchy jingle or a class catchphrase to truly personalize the experience and you’re ready to begin! They can work in pairs, groups or up to full class activities. You can host recorded, structured debates, short narratives or just allow children to express themselves through the spoken word.
The ability to practice and rehearse language skills in this way has the ability to truly innovate how second languages are taught. Often accent and willingness-to-speak are slow to develop, but with children eager to record, listen, evaluate and repeat, language skills can flourish.
Listen to what my school have been doing!
Why A Radio Room Resonates
From Reception to A-Level, the radio has the ability to appeal to all age-groups as a whole school resource. Teachers can even compile leaving messages for graduates or conduct a ‘radiothon’ as a fundraiser!
Using a ‘Big Write’ has long been used to develop children’s writing skills, I think we need to create a learning environment where children are able to practice and showcase their speaking skills as an outcome of a learning unit.
How often do you use a students verbal explanation as proof of understanding of a concept or scheme of work? Allow children to showcase their voices as their evidence of learning.
With many forms of SEN the focus on speaking and communication is very important. The ability to work toward and record these moments could prove very useful.
Sharing with the wider community
The more connected the world becomes, the more we are being asked to share what we are doing with the wider community, and specifically with parents. I disagree with asking teachers to do anything that does not directly benefit the learner, therefore if you want parents kept in the loop, why not release a weekly class made round-up of learning? What a great opportunity for children to ‘showcase’ what they have been doing.
Could This Work For You?
Introducing a radio room involves some careful planning:
You will need a mixing deck with the ability to record, microphones, wires and electricity! Lights can also be used to switch on a ‘Recording’ sign to really authenticate the experience.
Please if you are thinking about doing this, don’t put the radio room under ‘Stairwell B’ which is known for it’s damp! An open, accessible and bright space to record would draw further interest.
Unless you are an expert, I would recommend hiring one! Do you know if there is a parent in the school with experience in Sound Engineering? Local businesses would provide a handy go-to should any complications arise, and to be able to conduct on-site training with teacher staff.
The mixer would be the most expensive piece of equipment needed, coming in at around half the price of a single tablet computer.
Looking at this solely from a cost-benefit perspective, I genuinely believe this could not only be implemented easily, but see educational outcomes that far outweigh it’s economic value.