Thursday, December 16, 2010

Can you hear me now? Now? NOW?

I love the commercial. Really, I do. Because the tag line runs through my head about a thousand times a day. With 24 kiddo's (one of mine moved away- you will be missed, beautiful sister!) and by the way- 19 of them are boys- I am always wondering if anyone can hear me. Seriously, is there a black hole swallowing my instructions between me and the yellow table?

So when my hubby asked me if I wanted to demo a voice magnification system I said YES!!!

Here's the spiel I got from the representative:

Teaching without audio enhancement would be like teaching with only the front lights on in the classroom. The teacher can see and teach, but the students in the back of the room are in the dark and can’t see what they are doing.

At any given time, 3 out of 7 students have some kind of hearing impairment. Whether it is permanent hearing loss or just plugged ears from a cold; almost half the class can not hear clearly what the teacher is saying. With proper audio enhancement every student in the class hears everything the teacher says without the teacher having to stress their voice or repeat directions.
What if you could cut the number of voice related sick days in HALF! Only 14% of teachers that use a FrontRow system take voice related sick days compared to 34% that do not use audio enhancement.
The new FrontRow Lasso system offers a complete package that provides even audio dispersion in the classroom so every student hears every word.

The setup- not too hard or obvious if it was going to be a permanent placement in the room, but since we are just testing it out we made do with a few awkward placements around the room. There is a green box, two wide speakers and two collared microphones. (I think they look like a dog's shock collar a little). The first time it was spoken through (in the middle of free choice time- think LOUD), although the representative spoke softly about half the children from all over the room looked up. I knew I was going to love using it. I do, so far at least.
I feel a little ridiculous wearing the "NeckMike" as my kids are calling it. It is comfortable and I can imagine forgetting it's there after awhile (I was assured that unlike some systems, if you wear it into the bathroom it will stop transmitting.) Some of my kids tested it today- I went out for recess and several stayed behind in the class. They admitted to waiting to see if they can still hear me talking from outside. Smart monkeys.
Forget that the kids could hear me today with very little vocal effort on my part. I could hear them! During show and tell I had the kids wear the NeckMike- my demo came with two but I wish one was a real microphone for ease of passing around. For once I didn't have to say "speak loudly" "face the audience" or "could you hear them?" We passed around a NeckMike for the question/comment time too- and the kids paid much better attention than they usually do.

Teaching with Technology Rule Number 2. Don't use technology just because it's new. Use it because it improves something that you are already doing.

My students are learning how to speak in public, how to listen and question, but I can't change their personality. Some shout, some whisper... the NeckMike helps me hear the ones that are too quiet- and I think, will instill more confidence as well.


1 comment:

  1. Although we have have had the "audio enhancement" system for 10 years, it wasn't installed in my room. Five years ago I moved to a room that did - but I resisted its use. I thought, "I have a loud voice; no one has trouble hearing me so why would I wear a mike?" Then I tried it and was sold. I didn't realize that the system wasn't simply a 'voice magnifier' - it had a QUALITY of sound that made it seem like I was standing right next to someone's ear and speaking - right to them. I really was amazed except - I hated that 'neck mike'. It was bulky and awkward. When I mentioned this to a 'tech guy' who was in my room one day he said, "We have lavaliers, too, ya know..." and retrieved one from his truck. I WAS SOLD ! It's just a little box the size of a deck of cards that I keep in my pocket or clip to my belt with a thin wire that clips to the top of my shirt. I LOVE IT. And, yes, I notice a huge difference when I speak - kids turn and look, respond more quickly, EVERYONE hears! And my voice isn't stressed or tired at the end of the day. (I wear it everyday but get bummed when I forget to recharge the battery!)


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