Saturday, April 28, 2012

Puppet Shows & the iPad

 Have you ever had your students write and perform puppet shows in your world language class?  I've done it frequently over the years, and it's an activity that I highly recommend if you haven't ever tried it.  I can't believe how excited high school students get over playing with puppets.  We did this in first year French this week, and my students came skipping with joy into the classroom during these days.  I even heard one of them say, "This is the best class ever!"  There was a lot of giggling and laughing going on, but students were also actively engaged in writing and speaking French.  Here are a few photos:

I have a rather large collection of interesting puppets and also a puppet stage, but I bet students would have had just as much fun with a humble sock puppet.  Students began by writing scripts in groups of 2.  They had to choose from a list of topics I'd provided and write a conversation between the puppets based on that topic.  I checked over the scripts and returned them.  The next day, students recorded themselves saying the conversation on their iPads using an app called Audio Memos.  This is basically a voice recording app which also allows the file to be shared easily through email.  Students emailed their audio memos to me once they were done. 

Finally, students performed their puppet shows for the class while I played their recorded conversations from my laptop through large speakers mounted on the wall.  Here's an example of one of the performances:

This was truly a success!  Using Audio Memos instead of having students read their lines while performing accomplished the following:

  1. Improved pronunciation  Students were able to focus better on their pronunciation while recording themselves on their iPads than they would have if they'd been trying to read their lines from paper while also working their puppets.  Many of them listened to the recording and then re-recorded in order to fix mistakes they'd heard.
  2. Everyone was able to hear better because the conversation was projected throughout the classroom over the speakers.
  3. Shy students felt less intimidated about speaking French because they only had to worry about working their puppets in front of the class when all eyes were focused on them.

Puppet shows are a wonderful way to review material students have already learned, and they are also a great motivator, especially at this time of year when everyone is getting weary.  I felt encouraged and energized myself!  Why not give it a try?

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