Portable sound booth for your classroom

As I begin thinking of things I want to do in my classroom next year, I turned towards audio and video. I want my class to be heavily intertwined with projects. One of the issues I repeatedly see in classrooms is poor sound quality on student videos. What could I do to help with narration or voice overs in student projects? I did a little research on this and I found a DIY $20 solution. I made my own sound booth from an 18 gallon tub, a twin size “egg crate” mattress pad, and spray adhesive.

PicMonkey Collage


Now that I have the booth made it’s time to test it. I have a SnowBall microphone for the booth. My students will have Chromebooks to record their audio. The great thing about the Chromebook is you can connect USB microphones and they work great. If you do not have external microphones to use, you could simply place the Chromebook in the booth to record using the default microphone.

There are a number of apps available to record and edit audio on the Chromebook. For this test I used AudioRecorder. It is a simple app to record and save audio as a wav file. This app also works offline. So here are the test audio files.

Without the sound booth

Using the sound booth

I believe there is just enough of a difference for the audio to sound clear and full. If you are interested in taking about 15 minutes to create a DIY sound booth for your classroom, here is the video tutorial I used to make mine.

The only thing I didn’t like the tutorial is I did not cut the hole in the bottom to set the microphone in. with the SnowBall mic there was enough stability that I didn’t feel I needed the hole.

So if you try this, I want to hear from you. Comment below with your experiences. Also, if you use Chromebooks, what apps are you using for audio recording and editing?

I {heart} the Richland Two’s SC Midlands Summit

The last two days have been a culmination of almost a year of planning. The team I work on hosted the 3rd annual Richland Two’s SC Midlands Summit with over 600 participants from 9 states and 31 school districts. What an amazing experience! The summit was filled with over 130 sessions and 3 amazing keynotes from Steve Dembo, Leslie Fisher, and Catlin Tucker.

Planning this Summit is a LOT of work but every year, after it is over, and I am so tired all I can do is smile. Why do I smile? Because every ounce of the work is worth it to see how excited teachers are about learning and integrating. These are the same teachers that one week ago were exhausted from a long school year. Being on the planning committee allows me to share my passion for technology and it warms my heart to see so many so excited.

I just wanted to say thank you to all of those who attended. You reminded me of the reason I do what I do every day.

Skype Professional Development Thursday, April 28. – Help needed.

On Thurday, April 28 I am conducting SKYPE Professional Development throughout the day for the teachers in my school. I am looking for a few educators who use Skype to join us to discuss how you use Skype in your classroom or career. If your class would like to join us please bring them! If you would take a moment to sign up for a time I would appreciate it. Please sign up here.

As school is on the down cycle I want have declared May Skype month and to kick it off I want to give teachers options and opportunities to make the last month of the school year a bit more fun with bringing guests in to the classroom. Please help me show the teachers how limitless using Skype can be in the classroom.

Why build a Classroom without Walls?

I have had a lot of compliments for my last post on Building a Classroom with out Walls pt. 1. Tonight, I watched a Microsoft commercial that summed up why we as educators need to begin to move in this direction if we have not. Microsoft’s new ad campaign is called “Life without walls.” Take a look…

Kylie at the age of 4 can do something that a lot of grown adults are afraid of doing. One of the collaborators on my survey, Steve Dembo gave the following advice,

Be bold, don’t be afraid. Don’t hesitate to comment, don’t hesitate to befriend ‘big names’, don’t think twice about contacting people directly or replying directly to them. Be active. Don’t be afraid to register for sites, to create usernames or to do something goofy. Don’t be afraid to fail, because you will…. often. Celebrate your successes and do so publicly. Don’t refrain from sharing because you aren’t the first, or because you don’t think it’s worthwhile. Let other people be the judge of that. And give them the option of deciding. You may not think it’s worth sharing, but other people might.

Don’t be afraid of being the first either. If you have an idea, act on it. Don’t wait for somebody else to.

Be active. Be the innovator. Be the change.”

For Kylie’s sake… as Steve says, “Be the change.” Reach this child. They are all in our schools whether we are ready or not.

Creating a Classroom without Walls Part 1

So are you ready to build the foundation for your classroom without walls? We hear buzz words like 21c. learning, classroom without walls, RSS feeds, social networking, Personal Learning Network, blogging, wikis… What does this all mean? To answer that… you as the teacher need to look in to some of this before you ask your students to dive in.

I would like to focus on how you can create a Personal Learning Network (PLN). Daniel R. Tolbin defines a Personal Learning Network “as a group of people who can guide your learning, point you to learning opportunities, answer your questions, and give you the benefit of their own knowledge and experience.” Who needs to be in the PLN? Anyone who can point you to learning opportunities you are interested in.

How do you create a PLN? To answer this question. I pulled the resources of my PLN.  One of the ways that I have created a PLN is through a website called Twitter. Twitter is a micro-blogging site that wants everyone to answer “What are you doing now?” Seems silly but we educators can take anything and make it an educational tool. Educators from across the world use this site to share resources and ask questions to help further their technology integration skills.

So last night I sent out this call…..

Within a few hours I had all of the results posted here. The responses are so wonderful. Please feel free to read the entire document but I have summerized their responses below.

1. Begin reading educational blogs. Who should you read? Well that is really up to you but I can suggest some great educators to start with. In no particular order, here are some of my favorites.

Dean Shareski

Alec Couros

John Pederson

Will Richardson

Vicki Davis

David Warlick

Cathy Nelson

Chris Craft

Jeff Giddens

Steve Dembo

Lee Kolbert

2. Begin using an RSS aggregator to keep up with your blogs. Google Reader is the reader I use. If you like to find out more about it, take a tour. Bloglines is another aggregator that is commonly used. I consider my Reader to be a big newspaper. Everyday the blog posts I am to subscribed all all feed into my Google Reader. All I have to do is open it and all the posts are there just like the articles in a news paper.

3. Begin commenting on blogs. Become a part of the conversation.

4. Instead of keeping your bookmarks on your computer, begin using a social bookmarking site such as Delicious. Lee Kolbert, a Technology Programming Specialist from Boca Raton, FL suggests, “Using an online bookmarking tool, such as Delicious.com, allows teachers to bookmark their bookmarks online and access them from anywhere. From there, I recommend teachers share their Delicious usernames and add each other to their networks. To build a global network, teachers can start to click through and add other users who have similar interests.”

6. Alec Couros suggests, “try microblogging (twitter or plurk). Find other educators that are passionate about social networking. See the resources people share. Have fun. Learn. Contribute. Twitter in education is a type of gift economy. People help each other. People learn from each other. We all benefit.” and “Experiment with other media and social network. Try Facebook. Browse Youtube and TeacherTube. Become aware of how all of this work. Find out how kids are using it.”

When you are ready to try Twitter or Plurk, here are a few tips.

A. Fill out your bio information. People in the education network are more likely to follow you if you have bio information about what you do.

B. Find someone you know or respect in the educational world and begin following the people they follow.

Now go off and explore…. build your network… “If you build it, they will come.” – Field of Dreams