I interviewed Wendy Orseno, a fellow Spanish teacher, about having students use their cell phones to record oral dialogues and assessments. The majority of my colleagues use this feature and have encouraged me to try it, but I have always stuck to the "live" version during class. Here is our conversation:
1) What is google voice and how do you use it in your classroom? Google voice is a feature on Google in which you create an account and phone number which others can call in and leave messages. I create a different phone number for each class, issue the phone number to my students, and then on days of oral presentations students dial in and record their conversation. Then, I call in to retrieve the messages.
2) What are the steps you take in introducing Google voice to your students? (Do you have a directions sheet you could send me?) Yes, I do all my speaking that way but don’t have an instruction sheet. If you want one, I can make one for you. It’s simple!
3) How often do you use it in your classroom? Every time I give a speaking assessment.
4) Do students work individually, pairs, small groups, all of the above? I have used it in pairs and individually. I try to do one of each for each chapter.
5) I know our district encourages the use of mobiles in the classroom. Has any administrator ever seen you use them and if so, what was his/her response? No, unfortunately they haven’t seen it but they do know we use it.
6) Do you inform parents in advance that you will be using this tool with their children? Have you ever gotten any feedback or concerns from parents? I have not sent emails home to parents and also have not been questioned.
7) Why do you use this tool over just having students speak to you in person? Saves a TON of time!!! Love it and so do the kids! If I miss something, I can just go back and replay it. It takes away that intimidating aspect of having the kids stand directly in front of me or, even worse, in front of the class. They do so much better with these conversations as they record them when they are ready. If the made a mistake, they can instantly rerecord.
8) While I was exploring the site, I noticed that you can have the conversations transcribed. Do you have Google transcribe the phone conversations for you and then send it to your email? If you do, how accurate are the transcriptions? No, I cannot use that feature.
9) Are there any challenges you have encountered with using this? I cannot find anything negative to this feature. Love it and it makes assessing so easy and quick.
10) Are there any other mobile sites you use in your classroom? Kids sometimes use their phones for Quizlet. They can also use socrative.com on their phones.
After this conversation with Wendy I went ahead and created an account to try it for myself. https://www.google.com/voice/?setup=1#setup/
My number is 215-259-8194 if you would like to leave me a message, but remember it will need to be in Spanish! It took me sometime to set up the account, but after I figured it out it really was easy to use. I can now see why everyone else is using this!! I can sit at the comfort of my home computer and listen to the conversations. The voice quality was clear and I could pause the recording to take notes or write comments. It was not able to transcribe my message. I will need to work with that more. I like the fact that by the time I listen to the conversation, it will already be their best one. There will no longer be those "giggle attacks" or mess ups that cause us to restart numerous times. When students are absent, they can still call in and record. When I am absent on the day of an oral presentation, they can still do it! One question I was left with that I have forwarded to Wendy was where her students record the conversations. Do they do it right there in class or at home? How does she make sure that they are not reading from a script. I am very excited to try this feature when I return to the classroom next year!