This sixth featured post in A Series of Classroom Connections comes to us from the English Language Arts classroom of Erika Fell at Parcells Middle High School.
When I first encountered the prospect of integrating an iPad into my classroom, I was interested and a bit concerned. All I knew was that I wanted to improve my students’ speaking abilities. I wanted to be up-to-date on the newest technology and integrate it into my classroom, but I did not know how. After much consideration, I determined that it made the most sense to use the iPad in a variety of ways to support students’ language skills.
We are now reading A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, and to achieve the goal of improving speaking skills we used this text. The students were responsible for selecting a short monologue or dialogue from A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream as part of a project. They would memorize and recite 15 or more lines of Shakespeare for their presentation, just like an actor, but they also had to explain the scene from which their monologue came.The first thing the students did with the iPad was research Shakespearean acting and delivery style. Although we had been reading the play aloud, several students were still confused by some of the language used.
The students saw actual Shakespearean actors in action through videos on the screen and were able to learn how certain words were pronounced; moreover, they were also able to recognize the use of and difference between iambic pentameter and prose. Using the Shakespeare App for iPad and other iOS devices, students can also read along with the ability to decode or define the words used that might be unfamiliar.
The second implementation of technology to support student learning in this project was to help the students practice their skills. The students needed a way to see what they looked like while delivering their monologue and to hear what their speaking sounded like. In order to provide feedback and coaching to help them improve, I made sure the students pre-recorded their monologue at least one time using the iPad. After viewing it on the big screen in class using the Apple TV, they received feedback from their peers and me. They also had a checklist which a peer filled out so that they could receive additional feedback on areas in which they could improve.
After much rehearsal and practice students were ready to record their final draft. Students were given the option of either pre-recording their monologue or scene or presenting it to class live. I know that the use of the iPad made it much easier for the students to become comfortable presenting their scenes and monologues to the class, because it gave options for how the students presented.
Seeing themselves on screen gave them concrete proof of the areas where they needed improvement. The checklist also helped the students to understand areas where they needed to focus on volume or enunciating.
The students first felt, and explained to me, that the project of reciting and explaining Shakespeare was going to be difficult; however, when I explained that they could use the class iPad as well as their own iOS devices to record their performances, the students saw the task as much more achievable. They were excited to use technology and especially to allow their peers to record their own performances.
The feedback was very helpful and the students got the benefit of seeing their performance nearly instantaneously. The students performances improved greatly each time they used the iPad to record and re-record their monologues.
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