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Johns Creek students record assignments on iPhones

by Staff reports

January 20, 2010

McKenzie Ferguson, a sophomore at Mt. Pisgah, is one of the students in Cera Marsh’s Spanish classes who uses her phone to record her assignment.
JOHNS CREEK Most teachers might cringe at the thought of cell phones in the classrooms, but for high school Spanish teacher Cera Marsh they are just another way to use technology to enhance the learning experience. Students in her classes have found a new and creative way to use their cell phones to complete their speaking assignments.

Following each test, students in Marsh's classes are required to complete a speaking and writing assignment. They are required to write 100-150 words on a given topic and record their written work for a speaking grade.

In the past, students have used their computers to downloaded software that allowed them to record themselves and either e-mailed in the recording or brought it in via zip drive. However, according to Marsh, recently students asked if they could record themselves on their iPhones and then text message their recordings.

Necessity was the mother of invention for freshman Skip Anderson who is among those who use their cell phones. Anderson said that he did not know how to use the computer for this assignment. "It's a whole lot easier to record it and e-mail it right away," said Anderson.

"I am pleased with this ingenious use of cellular phones," said Marsh. "I like that they can record themselves outside of the classroom so I can get a better account of their speaking ability without the pressure of being graded in front of the class."

Marsh is no stranger to technological advances in the classroom; she also has a web page for her classes and teaches a virtual Spanish class which is totally online for students in the iQuest Program. iQuest provides a condensed school day schedule for students who are pursuing a dream such as professional tennis, golf or acting and need to be free for practice or rehearsals in the afternoons.

"The Web site provides students with all of their classroom notes, audio files, homework, and online resources, as well as podcasts. They can find everything they need, print things off ahead of time and annotate notes so they can focus on the class lecture instead of rapidly taking notes," Marsh said of her web page. "I have a senior who loves having the notes/pod-casts. She says that it has made a world of difference and she loves it."

A self admitted fanatic for technology, Marsh was invited by Purdue University and Hewlett Packard to lecture on the importance of pen-based technology in the foreign language classroom.

"I taught two lecture series which were student-seat lectures which gave fellow educators and administrators hands-on experience with this technology and real life exposure to how classes run when using this type of technology," Marsh said. "I love teaching virtual courses. The preparation is intense because the entire course must be mapped out and prepared ahead of time, but the benefits are exponential!"