We all know that pupils need choice when it comes to recording and plan their ideas. The written word can be the only outlet for some. Using pictures and bullet points might suit others. But simply speaking about your ideas, directly onto a digital recorder or another device, like an Easi-Speak microphone, can be a revelation for those children who have difficulty with traditional recording methods. Obviously the use of Audacity in the classroom could also enhance this and there are some ideas for this here but when we want to put the recorded sound together with visual content it might not be as easy for some as others, and we want their ideas and thoughts to be recorded in a way that suits them and makes them feel like they’re achieving. So which pieces of kit are best for this?
My first suggestion would be to use Photo story 3: it’s free, easy to use and the results look fabulous. There are a number of simple tutorials for this online but basically the program allows pupils to import photos, add basic effects, text, music and narration to make a short movie. It’s a very versatile, if simple, piece of software and can easily be used by pupils in KS1 (with support at first) and pupils with varying levels of SEN. The results look professional and ‘grown up’: pupils can be proud of their achievements and share their efforts with others easily. It’s great for topic based or diary type work but is just as good for tasks like story sequencing and retelling. I’ve used it many times with pupils where the pictures of a well known story have to be imported and rearranged in order, allowing for a retelling of the story in the child’s own words (and it’s even better if the child uses a program like 2Paint a picture to create their own images from the story first).
There’s only one trouble with Photo Story 3 (and it’s not really a problem with the program itself): if the pupils have used it in KS1 and lower KS2 they will want (and need)to move onto something different eventually! Some pupils, however, find that transition difficult: particularly those with recording difficulties when it comes to the written word! They want to put their ideas down but get frustrated when they can’t do it with the ease of others. The natural step would be to move to Windows Movie Maker but this is not always the best piece thing to use in a busy classroom (it’s not as straight forward or intuitive to use, it tends to crash or freeze, some pupils lose patience with it…). My solution is to get the pupils to record their ideas and speech directly onto PowerPoint – it’s easy to do and it gives pupils who may need a bit of extra time to get to grips with something like Movie Maker.
The technique is great for lots of topics but can easily be used to assist with literacy, particularly planning stories. Pupils can use a PowerPoint Storyboard (or perhaps something a little more jazzy, like the Movie Style Storyboard ) to help plan their stories: instead of adding written captions to their storyboard they could record their own comments instead. This would also work with a template like the Story Mountain Planner style one above – pupils could just use a microphone to record their ideas directly onto the slide and the need for written text is minimised.
From an inclusion point of view there are a number of other programs available that allow pupils to record spoken content directly onto their work: 2Create a SuperStory springs to mind, as does 2Connect, and there are others available. But if you don’t have those yet, and you need to give pupils opportunities to record their work in different ways (ways that suit then) then this is worth a go. Every pupils I have shared this with has been thrilled with the independence it has given them. I’m not saying they don’t need to write: I’m just allowing for the fact that some pupils, for whatever reason, are better at verbalising ideas. This is one way of making sure their contributions are as valued as everyone else.