The Deafening Silence – A nod to audio in the classroom


Growing up, I have always loved music but never really worked to acquire it like many of my friends with thousands of albums in their collection. I can recall seeing my brother, with great precision, pulling the vinyl out of the sleeve, dusting it with a red velvetDoors contraption and delicately setting the needle down to rock out to some of the finest classics of my childhood.  Cranking out the Who, Led Zepplin, The Stones and playing the Doors backwards when he wasn’t around thinking that we would hear something special (as if the Doors weren’t dark enough to begin with) were very special.  With technology, came access and my red turnworld opened up, skipping a decade of Napster and the likes, I arrive at audio streaming. I still don’t have a collection per-se except for a small defining mix of “must haves” to make me feel legit but now with access to all the content I could ever imagine on the road or on my phone, I feel I could hold my own at the next impromptu backyard rave.  My brother, a purest, says much is lost in digital recordings, and I don’t disagree.  He has amps with old-school tubes in them to bring out the richest of sounds and still cares for records like small children yearning to get outside to play and each spin on the table – a celebration of his youth.

Much of this experience will never happen for students growing up today, is it a loss, perhaps?  For me, building the excitement for the first time of dropping the needle down to hear the soft static track filled with a fine dust, waiting for the first vibrations transmitted magically through a needle are irreplaceable.

So, were is music today?  While this could easily turn into a 20 page essay, my question is really about the place of audio in the classroom beyond the expected venues.  Should music be played, accessed, analyzed, built into mathematical equations for students to reach higher order thinking skills and connecting to real world experiences?  I think so.  This generation has unlimited access and tools to break sound and music down to key elements, understand the emotion of sound and its impact on society.  We should couple music and sound with lessons, providing a score to our presentations and touch an untapped modality for our learners that would bring our lessons, flip-charts, power points to a new level.  To that, I again, nod to music and sound in the classroom to break the deafening silence.

While there are hundreds of apps both in IOS and Google that can do everything from sampling to playing  every concert the Grateful Dead has ever preformed, I leave you but one:  Sound as an expression from another human being, both professional and novice to you.

sound cloud


Create, record and share the sounds you create with anyone using SoundCloud, the world’s largest community of sound creators.
Recording and uploading sounds to SoundCloud lets people easily share them privately with their friends or publicly to blogs, sites and social networks. It takes just a click to share sounds to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Foursquare.

SoundCloud can be accessed anywhere using the official iPhone and Android apps, as well as hundreds of creation and sharing apps built on the SoundCloud platform.

Have other tools or ideas?  Please share your thoughts or experiences.


Applications to help with data collection and literacy management


Zip Grade – ZipGrade turns your phone or tablet into an optical grading machine similar to a Scantron. It reads free-to-download answer sheets in multiple sizes. Provide instant feedback to students by grading exit tickets, quizzes, and formative assessments as soon as they finish.

Exit Ticket (Chrome and IOS) A Student Response System for Exit Tickets and Formative Assessments. ExitTicket enables personalized intervention and differentiation for every student, every class through in-classroom proven levers for real-time intervention & differentiation. Common Core Aligned – Customize ExitTicket using Common Core, Science Standards, or your own aligned Learning Targets.

Literacy Leveler – Literacy Leveler™ makes it easy to level children’s books in your collection and find books of an appropriate reading level.

Chrome OS Accommodation Applications and Extensions:




Collection of Chrome OS applications and extensions that support student access including voice recognition software, text to voice, distraction free writing space, online reader to support fluency for dyslexics, typing application and Fluency Tutor for students to practice fluency at home to be evaluated by teachers later.


Type with your voice. Sayit turns your Google Chrome into a speech recognition app. You can use your Google Chrome browser as a voice recognition app and type long documents, emails and essays without touching the keyboard. The app is integrated with Dropbox and Google Drive so you can easily export you transcribed text to your various online accounts. Or your can send the text to any email address.


A customizable, offline, and full-screen text-editor. Write Space is a customizable full-screen text-editor that lives in your web-browser. It is designed to minimize the distractions that come between you and your writing.


Too long didn’t read? Let TLDR shorten it.

TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read)  Plugin is a free extension that creates a summary of any web article without leaving the original page.  Works great for PDF documents too!


BeeLine’s color gradient makes reading faster/easier for over 90% of people. How much will it help you?

Have a lot to read?  Make reading easier and faster using BeeLine Reader!  BeeLine uses a color gradient to guide your eyes from the end of one line to the beginning of the next.  This seemingly simple tweak makes reading substantially easier and faster because it allows you to transition between lines quickly and effortlessly.  Thousands of people have taken our online diagnostic test, and over 90% of them saw a benefit from BeeLine.  Many people are able to read 20% or 30% faster with BeeLine, even on their first try.


Tired of reading? Select text you want to read and listen to it. SpeakIt converts text into speech so you no longer need to read.

SpeakIt reads selected text using Text-to-Speech technology with language auto-detection. It can read text in more than 50 languages.


Fluency Tutor™ for Google is an easy-to-use reading and assessment tool that helps busy teachers support struggling readers.

Great for time-stretched teachers, Fluency Tutor™ for Google lets students practice reading aloud at their own pace.

Make reading aloud more fun and satisfying for even your most reluctant students. It’s also great for early readers and individuals learning English as a second language.

This easy-to-use app takes pressure off teachers having to listen to every student read in a busy classroom, where they can feel self-conscious.


Allows students to open reading passages through Google Drive

This web-based program allows students to open Fluency Tutor™ for Google reading passages in Google Drive. Must be used with reading passages assigned through the Fluency Tutor™ for Google App (available separately in the Chrome Web Store).


Master touch typing using this free game / educational program. This online program will assist you with learning and improving…

Master touch typing using this free game / educational program. This online program will assist you with learning and improving your typing speed!

Practice each lesson over and over to at least get all three stars. It really doesn’t take much to learn touch typing, a few minutes a day for one to two weeks and you will be a pro!