Use the Voice Memo application to have students record reading fluency practice and/or assessments. The application is incredibly easy to use. (Note: There are also other third-party voice recording applications for the iPod touch, such as iTalk and SpeakEasy, but the syncing process for the files is different)
After at least one voice memo has been recorded on an iPod touch, you can then connect the iPod to your syncing machine, and the voice memos will transfer automatically to iTunes. The first time an iPod with recorded voice memos is synced, iTunes will automatically create a playlist called Voice Memos and deposit the recordings into that playlist. The voice memos transfer to iTunes with a date and time stamp as the title.
Highlight a student’s voice memo recording by clicking on the recording once. (NOTE: You will need to train students to say their name first prior to recording, so that you know immediately which student’s recording you are working with for ease of renaming the file.)
Play the recording for a couple of seconds to determine whose file it is, and then rename it. If you are using this file as part of a portfolio collection, we recommend adding the student’s name to the file name, keeping the date, and deleting the time the file was recorded, as that is unnecessary.
The next thing you will do is add to the metadata in the student’s file to make the file a “container” of information that can be used in conjunction with a Smart Playlist, as well as for portfolio purposes.
Again, click once on the file to highlight it, and then go to File > Get Info (or ⌘-I as the shortcut). This will bring up the metadata tabs. The first tab, Summary, simply gives you general information about the file.
The next tab, Info, is the one we always utilize when adding this file as part of a Smart Playlist (digital portfolio). First of all, you can rename the file this way as an alternate method. In this example, you can see that we have added the student’s name in front of the date and deleted the time of the recording. We have also added the student’s name as the Artist in the file, we have added the year of recording, and we have made a comment about the purpose of the file. All of the information in this section can be used to create the rules, or filters, for a Smart Playlist, but you only really need to add data to one of the fields to actually create a Smart Playlist. The best one to use is probably the Artist field.
One really great feature of this tab is that you can use the “built-in” genres to tag the file, or you can create a custom genre. In this example, you could create an “Assessment” genre and tag all of your students’ assessment recordings with this for ease of sorting or creating Smart Playlists at a later date. To create a custom genre, click on the Genre pull-down menu and select Custom.
Type the name of the genre you wish to create in the field; it will now be available as part of the standard pull-down Genre menu once it’s created
We do not use the Video, Sorting, or Options tabs that often, so we will skip those. The next important tab is the Lyrics tab. In this example, you could copy the text of the actual fluency passage and paste it into this area. We’ve used an excerpt of a story from the Lit2Go project, The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat. By copying and pasting the text into the Lyrics metadata field, this would give you as a teacher the ability to have access to the text the student was reading to compare with the actual recording. If this file were synced back to an iPod or iPod touch, you could be listening to the file and reading along with the text at the same time.
The next tab, Artwork, can be used if you wish to put a graphical representation of the text being read (since the text was from The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat, this is some artwork from the story). Some teachers have also used this tab to drop in a photo of the student who is reading the passage. When synced back to the iPod, a graphic in this tab shows up on the iPod screen when the file is played, like album artwork does with a song file.
Now that you have metadata in the tabs, you can use that data in countless ways in conjunction with Smart Playlists to sort and organize student recordings or other curriculum files you have in your iTunes library. To create a Smart Playlist, go to File > New Smart Playlist.
A window will pop up in which you choose the rules for your Smart Playlist. In this example, since we put the student’s name in the Artist field under the Info tab (refer to Step 4), we are going to create a Smart Playlist where the rule is that the Artist contains the student name — in this instance, Mirna Garcia. Since live updating is checked, every time you add Mirna Garcia’s name as the Artist in any kind of file in iTunes, that file will automatically be placed in the Smart Playlist. You will then see in your list of Smart Playlists in the iTunes Source Pane one called “Mirna Garcia.” Inside of that playlist is the voice recording file where we added her name as the artist.
Once the Smart Playlist is created, it becomes a very simple way for a teacher to create an on-going digital portfolio of student recordings.