Engaging Students Differently: Google Voice to Develop Language Skills

If you haven't noticed, I haven't been posting as frequently as I would like. This is partially due to the fact that I have been working on some really cool projects (more on that later), teaching, and going back to school online at the University of Akron. I hope to earn a second Masters Degree in Instructional Design.

In my current class at Akron, I met a foreign language teacher, who uses Google Voice to assess the pronunciation and language development skills of her students. She created her own Google Voice number, which students call and respond to her weekly prompts. Students were given parameters like the number of responses, the minimum amount of time to respond, etc.

What a cool way for students to practice their grammar and pronunciation! Especially during the awkward time that high school presents. These experiences allow students a low-pre
ssure way of practicing, while developing their confidence in real-life face to face conversations.

She reports that students are very motivated and are improving immensely!

If you remember, Universal Design for Learning incorporates three principles:

1. Multiple Means of Representation
2. Multiple Means of Action and Expression
3. Multiple Means of Engagement

I like to think of engagement as the "fuel" that propels learning. Without it, you are going no where. This is a great way of not only having students show what they know (Action and Expression), but is a great way to engage them too!

Engaging students not only requires doing things differently, but it also requires creating a safe environment where students are encouraged to take risks. Sometimes our fear prevents us from taking risks. When students are given a safe way to practice their skills, they are often more motivated to want to learn and take risks. They will eventually have to speak in a face to face environment. When that time comes, they will be prepared because they have to tools they need to practice and develop confidence!

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