Kimber Halliburton talks about audio in the classroom

“Audio Enhancement surround sound which research says students lose about a third of information presented because they simply don’t hear a third of what’s presented during the school day. So the audio is very critical and then a camera that is controlled by the teacher in every classroom. When the teacher turns their back to write on the interactive panel sometimes the information can be lost because you’re not hearing the teacher as she has her back turned. She will be wired with a microphone; every teacher will be required to wear an Audio Enhancement microphone. Students also use a microphone. On the mic there is also a panic button so if an incident like a medical situation happens with a student then we know exactly what we are walking into when he or she pushes that button we’re sent a digital photograph of what’s actually occurring in that classroom.”

High-tech classrooms could be coming to every Washington County, TN school

WASHINGTON COUNTY, TN (WJHL)- Washington County, Tennessee commissioners will soon vote on a plan that could transform your students’ classroom. The school board last night voted to build a brand new kindergarten through eighth-grade school in the Boone’s Creek area. That proposal will now go before the full county commission later this month.

While that new school is years away, Washington County’s new Director of Schools, Kimber Halliburton, already has a vision to build it around technology. She said, “I’d like to equip every classroom in Washington County tomorrow with all of this technology.”
Halliburton says technology can greatly improve students’ learning with elements like the clear touch panel that’s being used in Ridgeview Elementary’s technology demonstration classroom.

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How Much More Could You Get Done With 50% Fewer Behavior Issues?

About 2 weeks ago, a co-presenter (Alex) from an audio/visual (“A/V”) vendor at a start of year professional development offered me a wearable mic for my 3-hour stint – which I declined out of teacher-voice pride (maybe hubris?). When it was offered to me again about an hour into the training I was glad I accepted because my vocal cords came to appreciate the benefits of sound reinforcement. Regardless of where I stood or which direction I pointed, I could speak at a conversational volume and every single person in the room could hear me as if I was standing next to them. This experience got me super interested in the research and work behind Audio Enhancement, who have somehow slipped under my radar until this point.

At its simplest level, their sound solution is a wearable mic that projects a teacher’s voice at the ideal learning volume for every student, in every part of the room. I followed up with Alex to get some research on what effect this has on student learning and teacher retention. I was blown away by some data points from independent research institutions (non-Audio Enhancement sources):

  • Sustained year over year achievement gains in core academic subjects >10%
  • Fewer discipline issues and greater on-task behavior (up to 17% increase)
  • Reduction in vocal fatigue symptoms and as a result teacher absenteeism (as high as 36% improvement)

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Lung function may affect vocal health for women

Washington, D. C. May 25, 2016 — Teaching is an occupation with a high risk of developing vocal problems — teachers have more than twice the voice problems than people in other professions, as the voice is the major tool in classroom instruction and is often used for long periods of time and in noisy environments. Additionally, females face a significantly higher risk than men of developing long-term vocal problems. Therefore female teachers, the predominate population of teaching workforce, face a dual risk for developing prolonged voice problem. In a collaboration between Harvard Medical School and the Gould Voice Research Center, researchers displayed that the cost of teachers’ voice injuries to the U.S. economy is estimated at US$2.5 billion per year. As a result, many scientists have worked on finding the physiological causes to help teachers prevent and treat voice problems.

Vocal fatigue is a common complaint among teachers and one of the most debilitating conditions that can lead to vocal damage. The typical symptoms include hoarseness, vocal tiredness, muscle pains and lost or cracked notes. However, the actual physiological mechanism of vocal fatigue is still being explored, and it is often difficult to accurately diagnose the cause as the patients’ vocal folds may look normal during an exam.

Now, a group of researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Utah have found a potential link between pulmonary function and the symptoms of voice fatigue unique to women. The study proposed a common, simple, low-cost tool that could aid medical experts in detecting potential voice fatigue at an early stage, which would help teachers to better prevent and treat voice problems. The researchers will present this work at the 171th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), being held May. 23-27, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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Bibb Middle Schools to Receive Cameras in Classrooms Next Year

ACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Bibb County School District plans to put cameras in every middle school and Veterans Elementary next year.

Ballard-Hudson Middle School tested the new audio/visual system this year. Teachers received their classroom cameras and speakers in October.

It took some time for 6th grade teacher Doneshia Gordon to get used to her new accessory.

“When it first came in, it was very hard to remember to put it on, to charge it before you leave. I even got to the point where I was like I don’t even need this mic! You can hear me,” said Gordon as she gestured to the teardrop shaped microphone hanging from her neck.

The new teaching tool is now a staple in Gordon’s daily routine.

“It’s called audio enhancement and what ends up happening is there are speakers in our room so it enables [students] to be able to hear better,” explained Gordon.

She said it’s especially helpful for students who sit in the back of large classrooms.

“Some students can’t hear if you have a lot of students talking, if you’re trying to get everyone quiet. When they start hearing you through the speakers it’s like oh, okay, I can hear everything she’s saying,” said Gordon.

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Did you Hear Me?

Based on gains in student achievement and teacher effectiveness many school districts across the country now include audio reinforcing technology in every classroom. Most of us can relate to conferences in large hotel rooms where the presenter fumbles with a wireless microphone questioning “Can you hear me now?” until someone in the back of the room acknowledges the volume is satisfactory. We have all been frustrated when a member of the audience states a question that no one hears and the presenter answers without repeating it. As adults we ask for presenters to speak up, adjust equipment or repeat the question because we are there for a purpose and the information is important to us.

Though the audience in a school classroom knows the information is just as important, the confidence and skill set needed to speak up and ask the teacher to do anything different is not likely to exist. If there is background noise, if the teacher speaks in low tones, speaks while facing the board, has an accent or talks fast, or if some children are hearing impaired; it is possible some students will not receive the information. Unlike adults, it is unlikely the child will complain they
cannot hear or make a request for the teacher to repeat information they did not hear.

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Come Tech It Out!

Over the past few months, many Duncanville ISD students and staff have expressed their excitement about the new technology being implemented in classrooms across the district. Currently, about 85% of all eligible classrooms are fully equipped with the district’s standard equipment. The remaining 15% are scheduled for installations during the 3rd implementation phase beginning in April.
Hyman Elementary staff members have reported that they have seen a major difference in how students are learning since the arrival of our district’s technology classroom ecosystem. “My students think it is the coolest thing ever!” says Hyman teacher Claudia Galvan. “It has increased engagement in my classroom as well as participation from students who were previously reluctant to share their thinking.”

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Bibb Schools to put cameras in classrooms

One Bibb middle school is piloting a program that would bring overhead cameras to every classroom. It might look like an ordinary middle school classroom, but there’s something looming up above.

“It’s not like a Big Brother thing. I felt that way initially, but not anymore,” Ballard-Hudson Sixth grade English teacher Maya Boston said. She’s talking about the new camera and audio enhancement system that’s now a part of her regular day.

“It’s a great tool to monitor growth of students and develop teachers,” Boston said.

All a teacher has to do is push the record button on their microphone and then, instantly, a video starts recording of their lesson, a discipline problem, or an emergency situation.

“Teachers give me access if I request it, so I can assist them by looking in and seeing some things they may not be seeing because their backs are turned as they’re delivering instructions,” Principal Eclan David said. He said along with the cameras the audio amplifiers make sure each student can hear the teacher.

“I don’t have to use my teacher voice anymore. I can simply talk in a comfortable tone, and all I have to do is press this button, and now my voice is amplified and everyone can hear me at the same decibel,” Boston said.

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Can You Hear Me Now?

I have recently gained a new appreciation for classroom sound amplification. What do I mean by this? I am talking about having the teacher and classroom wired for sound so that every student in the class can hear the teacher clearly wherever the teacher goes in the class. Even a simple microphone and a speaker will improve student learning, comprehension, and behavior. It also helps the teacher remain calm and in control.

For some of you, wiring a classroom for sound amplification may seem like overkill — or even unnecessary — because of the “teacher voice” that teachers develop over the years. I was one of those teachers that thought I did not need my voice amplified until I moved to a classroom that was wired for sound, albeit old infrared technology, but it works. Since I began using the sound system in my daily instruction, I have seen a change in the student behavior and in my behavior, and I am now a firm believer in enhancing a teacher’s voice.

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Big Brother, or Big Savior?

Gary Shattuck thought he knew a bad idea when he heard one. In 2011, Shattuck, the director of technology and media services for Newton County Schools in Covington, Georgia, put microphones on some of his teachers to see if amplifying their voices improved instruction. It did, and it created a bigger impact than he or his colleagues had ever imagined. But when a partner of the 23-school district suggested Newton raise the bar on its experiment by adding video cameras to classrooms, Shattuck’s first reaction was “No way”—teacher concerns ranged from privacy and vanity issues to worries about being disciplined for every misstep.
With less than a month left in the school year, Shattuck agreed to a small pilot. The results surprised him. Teachers—who had been given total control over what to record and whom to share the videos with—were amazed by the differences in their classes, mentioning specifically how discipline changed for the positive.

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