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I love simple digital tools. They let the technology get out of the way and provide room for students' imaginations.
Vocaroo is a perfect example. This free, online audio recording tool lets students hit "record" and, well, record. Tools like AudioTool, Soundtrap, Audacity, AudioBoo and TwistedWave provide advanced editing features you may need another time, but the simplicity of Vocaroo gets students creating immediately. And if you're a Google Classroom user, collecting work is a simple as students submitting a link (you can see how in the video below).
Students become incredibly creative within the constraints of simplicity: I've seen 5th graders pull out their phones and find sound effects, backing tracks and radio-style drops that they play in the background while they record with Vocaroo on a Chromebook. They'll surprise you.
In honor of this straightforward recording tool, here are 10 easy activities your students can do with Vocaroo.
As a class assessment, students write a simple podcast explaining the content of a lesson or unit to a student in a lower grade level. Have them take a look at this article on planning a podcast and check out this simple script example to get started.
- Historical Event Dramatization
Teaching history? Then it's a perfect time for a dramatization! Have students write a script, then record themselves dramatizing how the event happened. They'll have to know the main characters and major events just to get started, and the research they'll do in the process will teach them more than you ever could.
To spice it up a bit, ask them how the event would look if it happened in modern times: Who would be involved? Where would it take place? Why? Have them dramatize the current version of the event, then compare and contrast with the original.
- Breaking News Report
This is great for any content area: students have 30 second to record a breaking news segment about what they learned that day. Can they fit in all the pertinent information? How will they communicate a sense of urgency to their listeners? What will catch their audience's attention? Make sure they lead with the most important information to hook those who are listening.
- Character Interviews
After reading a novel or short story, students conduct an interview with a character of their choice. Here are some additional resources from ReadWriteThink, including recommendations for how to conduct a good interview. Let students take turns being both the interviewer and the character.
- Raps & Chants
The rock cycle can suddenly become amazing when you turn it into a rap. And students like nothing more than to hear themselves busting funky rhymes. Have them write, revise and edit their chants first, then record. They'll never confuse sedimentary and igneous again.
- Problem Solving Process
Math gets the short end of the stick in edtech sometimes, but Vocaroo lets students explain why they solved a problem the way they did. Have students write out the steps and strategies they used, explain them, then include an alternate way they could have solved the same problem.
- 60 Second Summaries
Since Vocaroo requires no setup, students can quickly record 60 Second Summaries at the end of class as an alternate form of an exit ticket. I've always liked the 3-2-1 Exit Ticket structure, and it would translate well to an audio recording.
- Fluency Practice
With a focus on reading comprehension, fluency can get deprioritized. But if a student can't read fluently, they're probably not going to comprehend well. Have students read a passage, record themselves, then listen to their recording. Encourage them to jot down three things they could improve on, then record again. The listen/reflect structure encourages students to read a passage several times, which improves their ability to read fluently.
This is also helpful for students with dyslexia. When they read a passage, then listen back to it while following along with the printed copy, they're able to recognize words they misread and correct them. I had a teacher leave a PLC where I mentioned Vocaroo and try it immediately with one of her students in a resource class. She reported back that the results were very positive as the student made major improvements in fluency each time she completed the cycle of reading, listening and evaluating.
- Audio Blogs
When students write a blog post, they can add a personal touch by adding a link to an audio recording of their writing. Recording and listening to their writing also helps them to hear things they need to revise and edit before they post. (Looking for student blog ideas? There are 10 Quick Wins here.)
- Google Forms Audio
This isn't as much a student use as a teacher one, but it has to be shared. This clever hack was discovered by a 5th grade science teacher in our district. She created assessments in Google Forms, then linked to a Vocaroo recording of the question and answers in the help text. For students whose IEPs required audio support, it was a simple way to for her to expand her reach and provide students with the necessary support.