Writers note: as I have done in the past with talk to text software posts all writing below will be done with the use of the software exclusively. Any revisions afterwards will be reflected in bold red font.
This weekend I took yet another step towards integrating talk to text software into my assessment plans. By the conclusion of first quarter our eighth-grade team had nearly 100% of the students up and running their very own blogs. Monitoring and commenting on so much student work is a conversation left for another day. While I conferenced with students about their first-quarter grades, the remaining students watched an introduction video on the moon and its relationship with Earth. For homework students were required to post to their blog their thoughts and questions about the movie.
I spent about two hours this past weekend reading each of my students blog posts and commenting on them to show that I had read their work and I was interested in knowing their thoughts. For this assessment to run smoothly I put on the headphones once more and asked brief but thoughtful questions about each of their posts in the comment boxes.
Some things I noticed: To begin I realized that the placement of the microphone in relation to my mouth was critical to the accuracy of the software. I suspect that if the microphone is placed too high breathing through my nose may have led to a disturbance in the software’s ability to recognize words. That being said, the accuracy of the software has improved and aside from words such as fax and facts I have had to go back relatively few times to adjust writing. I was also much more comfortable during the assessment time. I was able to sit back casually from my laptop screen with my wireless mouse beside me. I was not leaned over typing repetitive comments into text boxes, but instead clicking and talking, albeit with some emphasis on pronunciation. Including grammar in my speech has also become more fluid. It seems that like any technology there is a bit of a learning curve but ultimately the technology can be advantageous.
I recently spent time after school with a student who I had asked a week before to write two paragraphs and told him that I would dictate his work is simply verbalized his thoughts. The student surprised me with tremendous understanding, knowledge that I have not seen expressed in any of his previous work. I have decided that he will be my first tech subject for using the talk to text software with students. More on this experiment when I put it into place in the future.