Voice, Google Voice

3 Apr

When I was four years old I remember my family – with great interest – sitting around the kitchen table and teaching me the home phone number. It took a while, or felt like it did, as we went over and over again the seven digits that would connect me to our house phone.  At the time we had a rotary phone and one of those new age push button phones, a gift from grandma and grandpa.  Now, with hundreds of numbers stored in my iPhone and on my computer, I have the option to create another new phone number using Google Voice. I first heard of Google Voice when I got an invite from one of my friends, Chris.  I had not idea what it was, though I liked the novelty, and let it sit for about a year. Then, inspiration hit – why am I not using this in class?  Kids are so connected through their phones that I should hit them right their on their own turf.  So, I came up with my first assignment.

After spending a few days talking about poetry, terms, etc.  I had each kid call in with one definition of a term we covered in class.  I preselected kids for each one so as not to create confusion.  Then, I played each one for the class and had the kids follow along with their notes.  Next, after we practiced on several poems, I had the kids take a poem home, and the next night after they practiced, I had them call my Google voice number and record their analysis – in a minute or less – on what they thought the poem meant and why.

The voice recognition needs work, but the audio works great.

I liked this activity for several reasons.  First, I got to hear from every student (and I did hear from every student).  Second, I got instant feedback, as copying answers is fairly easy, but for speaking, each student will have a unique take on the situation no matter how many people they talk to; their understanding, or lack their of, will show.

This is a great way to start off using Google Voice – think of it as a free phone number – so experiment and let me know any ideas you think of, the possibilities are endless.

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