The Senior High School program is really new here in the Philippines, and as such, no teacher really knows how to implement the curriculum given by the Department of Education. PAASCU-accredited schools have more freedom in the curriculum design and implementation, but in my school, which is only on its fifth school year, we have to stick to the prescribed ones.

As the only senior high school English teacher, I have to teach three English classes this school year: Oral Communication in Context, English for Academic and Professional Purposes, and Reading & Writing.

Oral Communication

OrComm was last semester, and I miss it already. I had MINIMAL paper work (hooray!), given that the majority of assessments were orally administered. Aside from that, the subject was just overall a fun one to prepare for and teach. It was tedious because the majority of the grade 11 students were not very fluent English speakers, so a lot of coaching had to be done to improve the students oral presentation skills.

One of the formative assessments I administered in class was the live broadcasting of a speech. We were working towards a formal speech summative assessment, and to prepare them for it, I had them all give short impromptu speeches to help them build their content first. I figured that if they knew how to structure their speeches under time pressure, they can focus on their presentation better.

A lot of my students (half the batch were new students and were not fluent English speakers) had anxiety whenever they had to either recite, report, or give a speech. They never know what to say, so we did some brainstorming exercises to help them get used to generating ideas. Then we did word connections so that they can practice expounding an idea by providing examples or a connection to another idea. Lastly, we reviewed outlining as a way to organise their thoughts.

Using the app

So before I could make them do their formal speeches, I had to test and give them feedback first. I wanted them to be able to develop their ideas without the pressure of looking into 30+ pairs of eyes glued to them. I needed a way to get them to deliver a very informal speech (just to check idea development and fluency) WITHOUT having them do it in front of their classmates.

I initially thought of just borrowing the school’s wireless microphone and portable audio equipment, but it was too complicated and time consuming to set up in two separate classrooms. I needed something more portable, so I ended up turning to the web to look for something I could use. And like an answered prayer, I found Mixlr. It was an app that allowed the user to broadcast live over the internet. It was my savior.

Set up: outside the classroom

I would call students one by one, give them a topic, and send them outside to prepare for their speech and to broadcast their speech using Mixlr INTO the classroom. The student would stay outside the classroom away from the judgemental eyes of his classmates so that he could focus on his content. There was a table with a chair and scratch paper he could use to jot down ideas. He also had my iPhone (Mixlr app opened and ready to use) and a school iPad to serve as the timer.

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I used my iPhone to take this pic, hence its absence from the table setup 😀

Set up was super easy! My two classes were right beside each other, so I just pulled an extra table and chair from one of the sections, put it outside, then put my phone and iPad on top. I’d do this five minutes before I would enter my classroom. When I call the last student for the day, I tell him to bring in the gadgets after he’s done and to move the table close to the wall outside for the next day’s session.

Am I not worried about people outside stealing my phone and iPad while the next student is still on his way out? Not really. Nobody is outside because classes are ongoing. I also put the table in clear view of the school’s CCTV cameras, plus we have a roving guard on our floor to help keep an eye on everything. I also position myself in two places in the classroom: at the teacher’s table and by the door. That way, I can check regularly a) if my gadgets are still there, and b) my students need help during the broadcast.

Set up: Inside the classroom

My laptop was connected to the internet and classroom speakers. I’d open the Mixlr page for the account I set up for the activity, and we’d listen to the short speech (3-5 minutes). The students were given evaluation forms so that they could help me evaluate the speaker’s ideas and organization, and to a certain extent, their pronunciation and fluency. This also helped keep them busy instead of not doing anything. The evaluation forms also allowed students to practice their skills in making evaluative statements.

The whole experience with this lesson and app was AMAZING. Yes, I did have some hiccups, but they were easily addressed. The only major hiccup was that a portion of one student’s broadcast was not recorded because of internet connectivity problems.

Mixlr also keeps records of your broadcasts which you can publish to your page. Because of privacy concerns, I published the student speeches only long enough for me to be able to export and download the files for my own review.

Other uses of the app

I’ve seen people use the app to become their own radio disc jockeys. They’d play their own playlists and broadcast to a small audience or their friends. Some use it to spread their own original music. But one other way I’ve been able to use it was to broadcast one of the school’s mini-concerts.

With the help of our school’s audio technician, we connected my phone (which had the app) to the audio system so that we could broadcast the IgNights (Ignition Nights) mini-concert to the people who couldn’t attend (especially one of our department heads who was out of the country that time). Unfortunately, halfway through the broadcast, something went wrong and the broadcast stopped. I haven’t been able to do this again so that I could check what went wrong (pretty sure it was the internet again, though).

Limitations

The free account only allows you one hour of broadcast per day. If you want more hours, you’d have to pay for the premium service.

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