Presenting information individually in front of the class is often a requirement of class assignments for elementary through high school students. Some of our special needs students struggle with this task, whether due to difficulty with reading, recalling, speech challenges or extreme shyness when standing before their peers. What method of differentiation can be considered for these students when required to individually present?
The Tool: Use of an Apple iPod touch 8GB (4th Generation) – Black – Current Version to record the presentation for playback to the class when presenting on an individual basis.
The App: Although a Voice Memo app is built into the iPod Touch which is very functional as a voice recorder, we chose AudioNote Lite (free for iPod/iPhone and iPad and Android; full iDevice version 4.99) as an easy to use app that has a bit more flexibility with recording, playback and has a note taking tool also available within the app. Easy controls for the teacher and for the students was extremely important to get this easily done by the student.
Controls of the app are easy. It is easy to record, add to the recorded note even after closing it, simple to play back and also easy to rename a note for the student to identify which note to play (rather than dates and numbers which I find difficult to navigate and recall). Recording small chunks of information, adding on to a recording and reviewing small recordings allows students who struggle with producing content to compose by short chunks of information. Although editing is limited, recording by small chunks of info allow deleting and starting again without losing the entire recorded session. The lite version of AudioNote provides up to 10 minutes of recording in one session with a total of 2 hours recording, more than adequate for most of our student presentations.
Here are some clips of the iPod version of AudioNote Lite :
With minimal instruction the student with help of the paraprofessional was able to record and edit their presentation using AudioNote Lite in preparation of the required assignment. Practice with the device for playback was performed by the student(s) to ready them for presentation to the class.
1. Speakers: Volume of the voice memos was limited on the iPod Touch for projecting to a whole classroom, resulting in the need for amplification for the presentation. Portable speakers that could be easily managed by the students were trialed for use with the presentation. Here is an inexpensive portable speaker successfully used with the presentation and some other choices found available:
The X-Mini II Capsule Speaker (Black) ($21.00) was available for use, providing adequate volume to the classroom when volume of the iPod and Mini X was increased. No batteries, requires charging with USB cord to your computer. Available in different colors.
Other inexpensive portable speakers I have found that are similar and cheap:
ECOMGEAR(TM) Mini Portable Hamburg Audio Speaker Portable Rechargeable Speaker For For MP3 MP4 Player iPhone 4S - A similar small, portable speaker for under $15.00. Available in different colors, charges with USB cord to your computer.
Grandmax Teeny Tweakers Portable Mini Boom Speakers for iPod / Mp3 Players & Laptops (Black) Under $15, this speaker provides good volume to project in a classroom with an iPod Touch. No sound control on the unit but does amplify sound from iPod Touch for projection in a room. Also available in different colors. Charges using USB cord to your computer.
(I actually found the above speaker yesterday at a local Staples store scouring the electronics on sale - was under $6- a bargain! I decided to trial it and found it to have ample sound projection from my iPod Touch/iPhone for presenting in a classroom! Lucky find!).
2. Microphone: Use of a microphone for improved recording quality. We used available Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic (NEWEST VERSION)[Retail Packaging] ($25)
which worked well to improve the recording quality.
We were fortunate to have a few of these ear bud microphones available. They are a bit expensive but can be used with all other iDevices for better quality recording. I am cautious about ordering cheap knock off due to prior experience with a cheap set that did not work well. Research on recommended microphones for tasks on the iPod/iPhone/iPad often suggest using these. They did make a difference to the quality of the recording and presentation making it worth using or purchasing if needed.
This was a successful method of differentiating and supporting students when classroom requirements include presenting individually to the class. Would there be other differentiated methods of presenting? Of course, but this has been a practiced skill to the students and paraprofessional that was doable, resulting in the student independently presenting their work to the class with a “cool” device already available.
Although you may not be involved with such projects with your students you may be the go to person for how to modify assignments or presentation methods for your special needs students. Many OT’s also wear an AT hat and are consulted for solutions such as this or may have such equipment to borrow for single assignments. I am always happy staff asks about possible tools, equipment or methods as it widens the opening of the inclusionary doors to classroom participation and success for our students!
More ideas for differentiation or access for your students with special needs – would this be in your OT iTool Kit?