How I Use It
If students are not familiar with using a recording device Audacity open source software allows for simple ease in use, but then also has a multitude of more complicated, progressive uses.
I use Audicity with students for it’s simple to use sound recording and editing processes. The fact that anyone can download and use the tool makes it a real world tool, not a purchased for school use tool.
I have used this tool with grades 3 – 5 students for many years. Introducing what Audicity can do in stages; beginning with simple recording, moving to editing recorded work, and then progressing to using multi-tracks in creation of final product. Instruction time varies with student ability, but often is a quick 10 minute whole group introduction to the toolbar processes they will be using. If students need more help, there are many, many dedicated, online resources for the uses of Audacity.
Students use this for many types of activities: 1) record written work; 2) record responses to questions following a video, discussion, etc.; 3) reading fluency records; 4) recording songs; 5) record and edit/add – adding music or sound clips as background to recorded information.
The 4th grade student’s favorite activity is to record themselves reading their created, written Halloween stories, which includes many “noise” words (squeaked, howled, etc.) Then adding noise sound clips, as a background, to the stories as the noise word is read. This activity involves both simple recording and using several tracks to combine the words and sounds into one track.
The 5th grade student’s favorite activity is to record their “raps”. Students create a musical “rap” based on themed researched information (to get their researched information across). They work together finding background music, creating rap words, etc. record and blend several tracks for the completed product.
The students like their independence in Audacity’s simple use application. It doesn’t take long for them to become confident in their ability in using the tool. They easily transition into the other, more complicated uses of the tool. The recording time is not limited as with other free recording tools. This is very helpful when recording extended material. There are no bells and whistles, but it holds their attention because they are creating their own content and products. A plus, beside the fact that it is free, is that there are many established online resources that help with use of the software.