To meet the needs of our hearing impaired students, many schools have installed audio systems in each classroom. You know what I’m talking about, the box with knobs in the corner, the pretty necklace that comes with it :). For some teachers, this can be seen as an inconvenience due to the fact that the cowbell microphone needs to be close at hand all day. It can also be a disruption if your system inadvertently picks up a microphone from another teacher trying to quiet their class in the hallway or busts your students ear drums due to screeching feedback. We’ve even heard horror stories of teachers who’ve embarked on a trip to the bathroom and forgot to turn their microphone off
It’s time to make that sound system work for you. In order to do that, you’ll need three things:
- A bluetooth receiver you can plug into the back of the audio system.
- A tablet device like an iPad or iPhone.
- A soundboard app on your device. There are several you can choose from by searching, “sound board” in any app store, but I highly recommend one that you can add your own sounds and songs to.
My favorite thing about using a soundboard app was enabling it to act as a countdown timer. I had a computer voice countdown from 10 seconds and the students knew that when that voice started counting down they were supposed to stop everything and pay attention to the teacher in front of the classroom. The beauty of using a soundboard instead of just counting down yourself is that the soundboard is consistent. It doesn’t slow down, it’s familiar, and students have an expectation of what will happen if they aren’t ready by the time the countdown ends.
You can also try using songs and cut them down to different lengths for different activities. I had songs that I played regularly when students were supposed to get their math book out, put stuff away in their cubby, or clean up the classroom. Their favorite song was the one I would play to let them know it was pay day and that they needed to get their ledgers out in order to receive their monthly (class cash) checks.
Another fun way to use a soundboard is to liven up your classroom with games. One involved a racing game where they had to solve math problems around a race track. Students would hear the engines revving, the lights changing colors, and the sound of the starting horn all while listening to the immortal song from Cake “The Distance.” We made fixing sentences fun by playing “The Dating Game” theme song and then using the Final Jeopardy song as a timer. It turned what could have been a boring activity into something my students looked forward to doing. Use your own creative genius to come up with your own sound ideas that work for you and your classroom.
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