I received a box in the mail today containing 15 Coby 1GB MP3 players.
They're no iPod, but you know what? I'm okay with that. And in some cases, they may actually be better than an iPod – at least for the purpose I'm looking for them to serve. They only cost $23; far cheaper than, say, an 8GB iPod Touch. Cheap means disposable, which is a good quality to have when being handled daily by middle schoolers. Also, cheap means fewer features. While limiting in potential, it makes using the players more manageable. For example, I purposely ordered an mp3 player without a radio feature. Now when I load material and hand it over to a student, I know that is the only thing he/she will be listening to.
I had an idea exactly 362 days ago – just short of a full year. It has mutated and expanded a bit since then, but now that I have the tools, I'm ready to make my idea a reality.
Here are 3 ways I plan to use my new MP3 players in the classroom:
Audio Books – Not only is there a wealth of free audio books available through sites such as Project Gutenberg and Librivox, but students can also record books as part of a classroom audio library. If students choose to record a title that is within the public domain, it can be hosted online and shared with the world – talk about authentic audience! I currently have two students who spend their lunch period each day recording an audio book version of the famous Jack London book, Call of the Wild.
Lecture/Guided Notes – One problem that I have found with running learning centers in my middle school classroom is that the teacher turns into a living pinball, constantly bouncing between raised hands. I have yet to try it, but I plan on using the mp3 players as a station in my class. I can record a listening passage, or even a selection from whatever novel we may be studying. Included with this recording can be comprehension questions, clarifications, etc. – in short, what I would have to explain and re-explain to that station throughout the day. Students would be able to replay things they may have missed, and it will allow me to focus on other stations in the room that may need closer attention. It's about as close to cloning myself as I will ever get!
Review – Our team has a problem this year with chatty study halls. It's not all of the kids, but a few disruptive ones are all it takes to light the fuse. I mentioned the mp3 players to my Social Studies teacher, and she volunteered to record review questions and answers for her upcoming unit test. We're going to load them onto the mp3 players and hand them out to select kids during study hall. The result should be twofold – they'll be quiet, and may actually learn something in the process!
What am I missing? How else can I get the most bang for the 23 bucks spent on each of these little gadgets?
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