Google voice has rocked my world this year. I had previously wanted to see what I could use Google Voice for, but, like most teachers, I didn’t have time for another “tool” to add to my list and make my life harder. After attending the ACTFL Convention this year, however, my perspective changed.
I sat in on a session by one of the ACTFL teachers of the year, Carrie Toth, who runs http://somewheretoshare.com as she talked about different way she has added authentic assessment to her classes. She shared that when students have projects that many classes traditionally “present” (aka: waste 3 days of class time presenting), she instead uses Google Voice. In a room so crowded with people that I was in a corner on the floor, here I sat, suddenly engaged beyond measure. This woman had the answers to all my problems.
Any student who has ever sat in my classroom knows 2 things (ok, hopefully more than 2 things…)
- Mrs. Wilson doesn’t waste time.
- Everything we do has a purpose.
I literally refuse to waste even a second. And, if a student asks me “why” I usually have a dissertation like response of my thought process behind the request.
Presentations had always been an irritation of mine. They worked so hard… shouldn’t they present it? To be honest… these presentations aren’t going to be that great. Who listens to them anyway??? The class can’t hold their attention span long enough to hear more than one. UGH now we are a week behind 😦
Instead, Carrie explains, that she has students call and leave their presentations using Google Voice. Genius. Students are then able to:
- Speak with a lower affective filter.
- Practice several times before calling.
- Call again to record a better version.
- Not waste 3 class days listening to their Spanish 1 classmates repeat all 15 words they know (ahem, I mean…. um… sorry!)
I was anxious to try this, and I was amazed at the results. My students did fantastically. They even worked harder on their accents, because they felt that me having a voicemail was more “permanent”.
Tips and Ideas:
- Carrie suggested using some of the time that would have been spent on presentations to do a “museum” style walkabout, encouraging students to interact in the TL instead (Interpersonal).
- Use Google Voice for AP level classes to record their cultural comparisons.
- Google Voice voicemails cut off at 3 minutes. When students don’t have much dead space… that is actually quite a lot of time! But, be careful about assigning something that can’t be recorded in the time limit. For example, during their celebrity family presentations, I graded their project as a written piece, but asked students only to share the 5 most interesting things via voicemail.
- You can set up Google Voice to ring to a phone… but since the main use for it is voicemail (for a teacher), I recommend setting it to “Do Not Disturb”, so that it will automatically record voicemails.
- In your voicemail message, remind students to leave their name…haha, seems obvious, but you are a teacher, so you understand.
- Space your assignments out, so that your voicemail box isn’t clogged with too many assignments at once. One week I gave an assignment to Spanish 1. Once those voicemails had been graded, I assigned a Voice assignment to Spanish 3. A few late Spanish 1 assignments got mixed in, and there was a delay in grading them.
Have any ideas yet?