My colleague and I absolutely love our IPhones. We constantly use them in and out of the classroom to stay connected with each other, as well as with the students. (Check out David's recent post on making a What'sApp group for your students) We also take photos or shoot videos of our students in action several times a week. Yet, when it comes to students using their mobile phones in class, we can still be a bit conservative.
The primary reason for this is that we are extremely lucky this year in terms of technology in the classroom. All of our students either have a Macbook Pro or MacBook Air. Therefore, most of the technology time in our curriculum is based on getting the students more skilled at using them. Secondly, though, is the fact many students get so easily distracted when it comes to having their mobile phones in class. Since they are continuously getting instant messages from their friends and families, students can quickly lose focus when doing a M-learning activity.
Nonetheless, we are not totally against using smartphones for a classroom activity from time to time. We know how much our students enjoy using them. Plus, there is an abundance of apps that are available for smartphones, yet not available for the Macbooks. One such app that we occasionally use is called Voice Record Pro, and we used it just last week for a speaking and listening activity about the upcoming holiday here in Turkey.
What Are You Doing During the Holiday?
This activity starts off with this simple question, and the students write down a short paragraph in their notebooks as the first step. It doesn't need to be very long in length, just somewhere around four to five sentences.
When they have finished, we tell the students to get their mobile phones and open Voice Record Pro. We then have them go off to find a quiet place outside of the classroom to record the paragraphs that they have just written about their upcoming holiday. If they have written four or five sentences, their recordings should be around 30 seconds long. With that in mind, we tell them that they have a maximum of five minutes to get their paragraphs recorded and come back to the classroom. Even though that is more than enough time, many students can be shy or embarrassed about recording their voices, and thus, often make three or four recordings to get something they are happy with.
While the students are away making their recordings, I organize the students into pairs. You can do this manually, or by using the brilliant teacher resource, Triptico. Once the students come back, you display their pairs on the board. Their task now is to send their voice recording to their partner (and vice versa), then make notes in their notebooks of what his / her partner is doing during the holiday while listening to it. Finally, once everyone is finished, we then have each person share his / her findings as a whole class.
It is a simple and fun activity to do, yet there is definitely an academic objective to it. There are various English skills practiced while doing it, as listed below...
GRAMMAR: The students practice using the present continuous tense to talk about the future.
WRITING: The students practice writing the present continuous in paragraph form.
SPEAKING: They have to speak calmly and clearly while recording so that their partners can understand it.
LISTENING and NOTETAKING: They have to listen carefully to the recordings, and take notes of what was said.
Give a try next time you are close to having a holiday, and let us know how it goes, or if you have your own variation of the activity. We would love to hear it!