Amplifying Students’ Voices Using Soundtrap

Amplifying Students’ Voices Using Soundtrap

By Yesenia Carvajal, 9th Grade ELA Teacher and AVID Coordinator, Maywood Center for Enriched Studies, Bell/Cudahy/Maywood Community of Schools, Local District East

“It’s beautiful to hear students’ voices. To hear their voices while reading their words--it’s a beautiful experience,” I shared with Dr. Corpus, Instructional Technology Facilitator, as we wrapped up our co-planning session and reflection. The purpose of our collaboration was to incorporate ISTE Standard for Students 1.6 Creative Communicator, in the narrative writing process which culminates in students’ published work of their vignette about their homes. The ISTE Standard for Students were implemented in tandem with the following content standards and helped to support all students' writing.

  • LT 7: Writing Purpose and Organization - I can produce writing to convey and/or analyze complex ideas, concepts, or information through an effective organization in which the style is appropriate to task, purpose, or audience.
  • LT 8: Revise Writing - I can develop writing by planning and revising
  • ISTE Standard for Students 1.6: Creative Communicator - Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.

Writing Narrative Vignettes

As a 9th grade English Language Arts teacher, I intentionally begin the school year with a narrative unit that enables students to look inward and explore their identities. This unit is the first glimpse into high school and then exploring questions like: Who am I? What makes me, me? What and who shapes who I am? Why is my story important?

In this first unit, students read The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros, and write their own coming-of-age vignettes - short stories detailing events, people, or settings - which enables them to reflect on their own experiences, environment, and people who shape their identity.

This project has evolved in the last three years. It started with students submitting a traditional Google Doc essay format narrative, to students publishing their work in Google Sites to share with the community through a virtual showcase, and this year, I added the Soundtrap component as an option. Utilizing Soundtrap aligns to ISTE Standard for Educators 2.5c which calls for educators to explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning. The first step was getting students comfortable recording their voices. I had students practice recording themselves using a low-stakes journal response about their homes. After listening to the practice recordings, I was inspired to make Sountrap an integral part of the publishing stage. Their voices carried so much authenticity and an experience that can’t happen on paper.

Writing Process

Before recording the final Soundtrap verbal narrative, students experienced a 6-step writing process (click the link to view the lesson) which includes the following: pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, evaluating, and publishing. Students experiencing the writing process allows them to take risks, to let go of the fear of writing a perfect sentence, and to see their work beyond an assignment submission when it is published for others to see.

Like I tell my students, the writing process is messy and everyone will always be in a different step, but that is okay. So, some students got to the recording sooner than others. By the last day of publishing, students helped each other record, download the MP3, and upload it to their final drafts. Following this pedagogy allowed me to realize ISTE Standard for Educators: Facilitator 2.6.a, which invites all educators to foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings. This activity not only allowed students to be creative communicators but it empowered students to teach others how to use the digital tool. Other teachers at MaCES have also implemented Soundtrap into their instructional practices as exemplified in the following student examples.

Listen to student Soundtrap examples:

Student Soundtrap Example

9th Grade - Ethnic Studies: Family Narrative Project Maywood Center for Enriched Studies Magnet (MaCES)

12 Grade - Physiology:

12th Grade - Physiology: “Interview with an Organ” Maywood Center for Enriched Studies Magnet (MaCES)

Using Soundtrap, I hoped students would hear and see themselves as storytellers. Several students expressed feeling “cringe” that others would hear their voices and stories, but by the end, they accepted the challenge and many students relate to one another through these stories.The freshman student, Jannahy Vilalpando, wrote a heart-warming and reflective piece that you can read and listen to using the following link -- The House on Flower Street.

Jannahy Villalpando - The House on Flower Street
Student Writer: Jannahy Villalpando - The House on Flower Street

Students are outside while recording on Soundtrap Students have class outdoors while they record their Soundtraps. They are spaced out to reduce background noise.

Student, Daisy Cabrera (9th grade), spends time editing her Soundtrap. Student, Daisy Cabrera (9th grade), spends time editing her Soundtrap.