Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's SO EASY! Easi-Speak Digital Recorders!


This fall I had a project funded through donorschoose.org  for a pack of small handheld digital recorders. Since I have never had anything like this before in my classroom, I was filled with all sorts of dreams about ways that we could use them in class to create digital portfolios of student work.  

Well, I'm here to say that the reality is even better than I had hoped.  

When I received my Easi-Speak  pack I was right in the middle of 5th grade show and then it was the holidays and well....... I'm just now getting around to playing with these little guys with any sort of intentionality.   So far I'm just giddy with possibilities! 

Here is what I've tried so far! 

Scratch Group Recordings:
The 100th Day of school sort of snuck up on me, and since I had my guitar with me that day, we made up a song.  It was pretty cute as far as ridiculously on the fly song go, so I thought I’d record the children singing it with me.   I thought that the digital recorder did a good job of capturing the entire class singing.  It’s by no means a quality for public sharing and it is no replacement of "real" recording equipment, but it is a good representation of the “daily” work done in class and certainly a good addition to a digital portfolio.

Individual Recordings: 
I REALLY like this, probably because this is how the microphones were designed to be used.  So far, I’ve only had one recorder out at a time, but I think that soon I’ll have all of them out at once.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to create an accurate record of student singing that is a concrete support of your qualitative rubric?  The nice thing is that since these recorders are designed to be used by one student at a time, even with background noise, you still get a REALLY nice sound.

Emergency Practice Tracks:
There you are with only about 1 class left in your voice and that afternoon you have your less than independent choir students coming in for rehearsal.  I wore the recorder around my neck and recorded a rehearsal track for my students who sing part 2. Now granted, I was at a piano with a volume control, but it was so much easier than any other option available to me at the time.

Discipline documentation:
So I have to admit that I discovered this by accident. It’s that time of year where the chatty cats and cathys in my class have gotten rather bold and the effectiveness of those natural consequences that worked just last week is slipping.   Creativity is in order to keep my students from "spring breaking" too soon. 

I’d been playing around with my little recorder when my class with my favorite chatty cat who uses ALL of my creativity came into class ready to see if I had any new ideas.  Lucky for me I still had my little recorder in my hand.  I smiled hugely at him, pointed out the red “record” light and said, “This microphone will record all of your good work today, why don’t you wear this around your neck and sit close by me today.”…. He was literally stunned into silence. And THEN he asked good questions and did his work.  It was a PERFECT day!  Not to mention the fact that a few of his “chatty cat crew” wanted a microphone too…. I told them truthfully that my microphone would catch all of their good work too.  They were good as gold.  Eventually one caught on and said, “What if we aren’t good?”  I said, “Oh, it will catch that too….”  PRICELESS!  

Ideas that I haven't yet tried! 
·     Record instructions for an independent activity or EVEN record your sub plans, burn it to a CD    and you are all set!

·     Auditions – now that my students are learning how to use it, the next step will be to formalize the procedure.  I either have to figure out a way to create blind auditions, OR I have to train my students to always say their name and teachers name before they start singing or speaking because the whole idea would be to have them do their preliminary audition just outside where I can see them but they can’t be disturbed during their audition.  I’ve still got some figuring out on how to make that work realistically.

·     I also want to use this for small group interactions.  I want to give each group a task and have them record their conversation.  It would be a great way to keep record of who was really involved and who was more passive.

The possibilities are endless..... What if you recorded your private lessons and gave your student a CD of the lesson?  What if students interviewed their teachers about their musical experiences?  What if students used these little recorders as a tool for music composition? I need one for each student!  

What happens once you are ready to hear what you recorded?
·     You could choose immediate playback which is useful for immediate feedback for students.

·     You use the USB port on your computer and when you do all the MP3 files come up.  They are in a folder and are numbered.  I had to rename them because I'm not organized to remember what I did when......

·       If you record for a long time, it will record in small seamless chunks

·      You could choose just to rename them and keep them as a record as they are. 

·     OR you can import them into Audacity.  Audacity  is loaded on each microphone and if you want to edit the files, you can open Audacity immediately from the folder.  EASY! 


  1. What is the name of these recorders? Do you still use/like them?

  2. I received these recorders as a donorschoose.org project and then I moved schools. Up until I moved schools and had to leave them behind I used them regularly. The kids loved them. Here is the link for where to get them. http://www.learningresources.com/product/easi-speak--8482-+usb+recorder.do