I was reminded of the importance sound plays in learning this week, and of all places, at a golf driving range. A friend, watching my inconsistent windmill hitting of golf balls hooked me up with something called Sonic Golf. You put this transmitter into the club shaft, attach a receiver to your belt, and insert ear buds—then you swing and listen. I quickly learned to specifically listen to the rhytym of my swing, the quiet associated with the transition/change in direction, and the speed. Sound feedback resulted in hitting the golf ball on the button—consistently. Learning can benefit by taking advantage of the science of listening.
What about sound within classrooms, and for teachers, kids, listening and learning?
I’ve long been a proponent of sound in the classroom. As a teacher, I toyed with all sorts of ways to hook up a microphone and simple speakers, so quiet students could be heard in a classroom. The best student presentation suffers when the audience can’t hear it, and no amount of “speak louder” reminders will help. I also remember rigging up old record players with mics, because they had speakers—and sort of worked. Just that, was an improvement in a regular classroom. And by saying old record player, I’ve, again, dated myself.
As instructional tech specialist, I was forever looking for ways to inexpensively tie our teachers and computers into the ceiling speakers. I usually started with teachers willing to experiment, but most often with those who had students with IEPs that included sound options. It made those students, with the obvious hearing needs, more successful, and teachers discovered that the rest of the class benefited as well. At first, we used handheld microphones. Not the best for orchestrating a class, but certainly exciting for kids. Then, we graduated to a few devices that hung like necklaces, and left teaching hands free. It’s amazing how many of those devices I saw in the hallway, hanging from teachers’ necks, because they had gotten used to them, and forgotten to remove them.
I know there are scientific studies to prove all this sound theory, but the bottom line is really to learn the art of listening, you just can’t be told to do it. I will bet you that in most classrooms that are sound improved, teachers don’t have to remind students to listen, and teachers don’t have to repeat what they say—as often. It’s not only the students on IEPs who benefit; it’s the entire class, as well as the teacher. So, if you haven’t, consider making classrooms sound ready in newer buildings, and sound improved in older ones.
Here’s a hyperlinked list of companies that do classroom audio well. Visit their sites for more.
11. Extron VoiceLift