Speaking and listening skills are arguably as important as reading and writing, but it’s hard to find time in the school day to adequately practice all of these key skills. Fortunately, digital tools can help to facilitate the speaking and listening process by providing online spaces for students to continue developing these skills. These versatile platforms allow you to extend practice to student-driven learning centers, develop asynchronous activities, and expand practice beyond the confines of your classroom. Students can record themselves speaking (either through video or audio-only), and they can practice the skill of listening to themselves and others.
Live, face-to-face communication is essential, but digital experiences can offer some unique benefits, too.
- Confidence Scaffolding: Speaking in front of others is one of the most common human fears. This can be especially true for students as they grow in their confidence and identities. Many students are more comfortable recording their thoughts rather than speaking them in person. The use of recordings can be an effective way to scaffold student skills before they share with a live audience.
- Asynchronous Access: By offering digital speaking and listening opportunities, you are not bound to using common class time for this work. Students can record outside of class at their own convenience. Within the classroom, students can record when they are ready or as part of a station rotation. This added flexibility can be empowering for both you and your students.
- Peer Reflection: Because these experiences are recorded digitally, they can allow students more time to reflect on their messages, as well as the process of speaking, listening, and responding, often providing more reflective and intentional communication.
- Self-Reflection: Recorded messages enhance opportunities for self-reflection since students can listen to their own performances and experience their message much like their audience would have received it. This can be a powerful and eye-opening experience.
- Growth Monitoring: When students record their communication digitally, both you and your students have an authentic learning artifact upon which to reflect. It can be very inspiring to compare recordings from the beginning of the year to the end of it in order to see growth in action. This can be especially insightful in the area of reading fluency.
Because of the variety of audio and video tools available online, you will likely be able to find something to meet your specific classroom needs. Explore this list of audio and video tools for the fit that seems right for helping your students to practice speaking and listening virtually.
- Flipgrid (Tips): This free and robust video discussion tool from Microsoft allows for safe and collaborative video recording. Students can record audio with their screen or video camera while speaking. They can also comment on each other’s recordings for a more collaborative experience.
- Mote: This handy tool (as well as its Google Chrome extension) allows you to record audio directly onto Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets. This allows students to hear audio embedded into these items and also be able to attach recordings of their own voices with one simple process. Mote is especially effective when used with Google Slides.
- Padlet (Tips): Students can add multiple forms of responses to this digital bulletin board, including uploads, photos, video, audio, screen recordings, drawings, links, and more. Create three Padlets with a free account.
- Seesaw (Tips): An audio recorder is integrated into the photo, drawing, and notes options. Students can record both audio and video with the video option. Seesaw is simple, intuitive, and a great entry point for even the youngest learners.
- VoiceThread: With a free account, you can create five VoiceThreads, and students can respond to uploaded media with voice and text comments. This provides a space to practice speaking, listening, and viewing skills.
- Your LMS: Most learning management systems have integrated audio and video recording tools. These can be easy and accessible entry points into recorded speaking and listening.