Teaching Special Kids How to Write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

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Moodle 1.9 for Teaching Special Education Children (5-10): Beginner's Guide

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Create courses and therapies for children with special educational needs using Moodle for effective e-learning

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by Vanesa S. Olsen | July 2010 | Moodle Open Source

We can guide children to write simple sentences and paragraphs by creating different kinds of activities. Additionally, we can use many different applications to allow the student to record the sentence instead of writing it. This way, it is possible to evaluate their skills and to create motivating exercises to offer them better guidance to write simpler or more complex sentences.

Reading this article written  by Vanesa S. Olsen, author of Moodle 1.9 for Teaching Special Education Children (5-10): Beginner's Guide we will learn the following:

  • Preparing and recording a sentence with many predefined words
  • Record, encode, and upload digitalized voice as a result of a Moodle exercise
  • Prepare images that combine clipart pictures with geometric shapes

Creating a sentence using certain words

Last Saturday, Alice went to the circus with her mother. Today is Priscilla's birthday and Alice cannot wait to tell her friends about the funny and dangerous things she saw in the circus.

She was really scared when she saw the lions jumping through the flaming hoops. She enjoyed the little dogs jumping and twirling, and the big seals spinning balls. However, she has to remember some of the shows. Shall we help her?

Time for action – choosing and preparing the words to be used in a sentence

We are first going to choose the words to be used in a sentence and then add a new advanced uploading of files activity to an existing Moodle course.

  1. Log in to your Moodle server.
  2. Click on the desired course name (Circus). As previously learned, follow the necessary steps to edit the summary for a desired week. Enter Exercise 1 in the Summary textbox and save the changes.
  3. Click on the Add an activity combo box for the selected week and choose Advanced uploading of files.
  4. Enter Creating a sentence using certain words in Assignment name.
  5. Select Verdana in font and 5 (18) in size—the first two combo boxes below Description.
  6. Click on the Font Color button (a T with six color boxes) and select your desired color for the text.
  7. Click on the big text box below Description and enter the following description of the student's goal for this exercise. You can use the enlarged editor window as shown in the next screenshot. Use a different font color for each of the three words: Lion, Hoops, and Flaming.

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

  8. Close the enlarged editor's window. Select 10MB in Maximum size. This is the maximum size for the file that each student is going to be able to upload as a result for this activity. However, it is very important to check the possibilities offered by your Moodle server with its Moodle administrator.
  9. Select 1 in Maximum number of uploaded files.
  10. Select Yes in Allow notes. This way, the student will be able to add notes with the sentence.
  11. Scroll down and click on the Save and display button. The web browser will show the description for the advanced uploading of files activity.

What just happened?

We added an advanced uploading of files activity to a Moodle course that will allow a student to write a sentence that has to include the three words specified in the notes section. The students are now going to be able to read the goals for this activity by clicking on its hyperlink on the corresponding week. They are then going to write the sentence and upload their voices with the description of the situation.

We added the description of the goal and the three words to use in the sentence with customized fonts and colors using the online text activity editor features.

Time for action – writing and recording the sentence

We must first download and install Audacity 1.2. We will then help Alice to write a sentence, read it, and record her voice by using Audacity's features.

  1. If you do not have it yet, download and install Audacity 1.2 (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/). This software will allow the student to record his/her voice and save the recording as an MP3 file compatible with the previously explained Moodle multimedia plugins.
  2. In this case, we are covering a basic installation and usage for Audacity 1.2. The integration of sound and music elements for Moodle, including advanced usages for Audacity, is described in depth in Moodle 1.9 Multimedia by João Pedro Soares Fernandes, Packt Publishing.

  3. Start Audacity.
  4. Next, it is necessary to download the LAME MP3 encoder to make it possible for Audacity to export the recorded audio in the MP3 file format. Open your default web browser and go to the Audacity web page that displays the instructions to install the correct version of the LAME MP3 encoder, http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/faq?s=install&item=lame-mp3.
  5. Click on the LAME download page hyperlink and click on the hyperlink under For Audacity on Windows, in this case, Lame_v3.98.2_for_Audacity_on_Windows.exe. Run the application, read the license carefully, and follow the necessary steps to finish the installation. The default folder for the LAME MP3 encoder is C:\Program Files\Lame for Audacity, as shown in the following screenshot:

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

  6. Minimize Audacity.
  7. Log in to your Moodle server using the student role.
  8. Click on the course name (Circus).
  9. Click on the Creating a sentence using certain words link on the corresponding week. The web browser will show the description for the activity and the three words to be used in the sentence.
  10. Click on the Edit button below Notes. Moodle will display a big text area with an HTML editor.
  11. Select Verdana in font and 5 (18) in size.
  12. Write a sentence, The lion jumps through the flaming hoops., as shown in the next screenshot:

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

  13. Go back to Audacity. Resize and move its window in order to be able to see the sentence you have recently written.
  14. Click on the Record button (the red circle) and start reading the sentence. Audacity will display the waveform of the audio track being recorded, as shown in the next screenshot:

    You need a microphone connected to the computer in order to record your voice with Audacity.

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

  15. Once you finish reading the sentence, click on the Stop button (the yellow square). Audacity will stop recording your voice.
  16. Select File | Export As MP3 from Audacity's main menu. Save the MP3 audio file as mysentence.mp3 in your documents folder.
  17. Audacity will display a message indicating that it uses the freely available LAME library to handle MP3 file encoding, as shown in the next screenshot:

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

  18. Click on Yes and browse to the folder where you installed the LAME MP3 encoder, by default, C:\Program Files\Lame for Audacity. Click on Open and Audacity will display a dialog box to edit some properties for the MP3 file. Click on OK and it will save the MP3 file, mysentence.mp3, in your documents folder.
  19. Next, go back to your web browser with the Moodle activity, scroll down, and click on the Save changes button.
  20. Click on the Browse button below Submission draft. Browse to the folder that holds your MP3 audio file with the recorded sentence, your documents folder, select the file to upload, mysentence.mp3, and click on Open. Then, click on Upload this file to upload the MP3 audio file to the Moodle server. The file name, mysentence.mp3, will appear below Submission draft if the MP3 file could finish the upload process without problems, as shown in the next screenshot. Next, click on Continue.

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

  21. Click on Send for marking and then on Yes. A new message, Assignment was already submitted for marking and cannot be updated, will appear below the Notes section with the sentence.
  22. Log out and log in with your normal user and role. You can check the submitted assignments by clicking on the Creating a sentence using certain words link on the corresponding week and then on View x submitted assignments. Moodle will display the links for the notes and the uploaded file for each student that submitted this assignment, as shown in the next screenshot.

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

  23. You will be able to read the notes and listen to the recorded sentence by clicking on the corresponding links.
  24. Once you have checked the results, click on Grade in the corresponding row in the grid. A feedback window will appear with a text editor and a drop-down list with the possible grades.
  25. Select the grade in the Grade drop-down list and write any feedback in the text editor, as shown in the next screenshot. Then click on Save changes. The final grade will appear in a corresponding cell in the grid.

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

What just happened?

In this activity, we defined a simple list of words and we asked the student to write a simple sentence. In this case, there is no image or multimedia resource, and therefore, they have to use their imagination.

The child has to read and understand the three words. He/she has to associate them, imagine a situation and say and/or write a sentence. Sometimes, it is going to be too difficult for the child to write the sentence. In this case, he/she can work with the help of a therapist or a family member to run the previously explained software and record the sentence. This way, it is going to be possible to evaluate the results of this exercise even if the student cannot write a complete sentence with the words.

Have a go hero – discussing the results in Moodle forums

The usage of additional software to record the voice in order to solve the exercises can be challenging for the students and their parents. Prepare answers of frequently asked questions in the forums offered by Moodle.

This way, you can interact with the students and their parents through other channels in Moodle, with different feedback possibilities.

You can access the forums for each Moodle course by clicking on Forums in the Activities panel.

Moodle 1.9 for Teaching Special Education Children (5-10): Beginner's Guide Create courses and therapies for children with special educational needs using Moodle for effective e-learning
Published: July 2010
eBook Price: $26.99
Book Price: $44.99
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Have a go hero – working with images instead of words

Some students have great difficulties reading and understanding written words. Create a new version of the previous exercise by using several images instead of words. By using images, the student will be able to record a sentence by observing the images, and then carrying out the activity with the help of a therapist or a family member.

Create a new activity asking the student to watch a video and record his/her own story about the video.

Time for action – installing a NanoGong assignment to set speaking homework

We can also take advantage of the non-standard module that offers a NanoGong assignment type. This assignment is an excellent way of setting speaking homework without the need to use an additional application as Audacity to perform the digital voice recording process. NanoGong is a voice recording Java applet that offers a new assignment type and was developed by Dan Poltawski of Lancaster University Network Services Ltd. (LUNS).

Firstly, it is necessary to install the module that allows us to add NanoGong assignments to Moodle and to analyze the results of their execution. You have to follow these steps with administrator access to your Moodle server.

  1. Open your default web browser and go to http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?d=13&rid=2882. This web page allows us to download the last version of the Nanogong Assignment Type module for Moodle.
  2. Download the latest version for this module for Moodle by clicking on the Download the latest version link, as shown in the next screenshot. In this case, we are going to work with nanogong.zip.

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

  3. Copy the downloaded compressed file to a temporary folder and unzip its contents. Then copy the nanogong folder created as a result of uncompressing the zipped file contents.
  4. Go to your Moodle server main folder. We will use as an example C:\Moodle as the Moodle server folder; replace it with your folder.
  5. Next, go to the server\moodle\mod\assignment\type folder located in the Moodle server main folder, in our example, C:\Moodle\server\moodle\mod\assignment\type.
  6. Paste the previously copied nanogong folder. As a result, you will see a new nanogong folder in the type sub-folder, in our example, C:\Moodle\server\moodle\mod\assignment\type, as shown in the next screenshot.

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

What just happened?

We installed a module to allow Moodle to add NanoGong assignments and to check the results of these exercises. We are now going to be able to add the previously created exercise as a NanoGong assignment to allow the student to record his/her voice without having to work with an additional application.

The previously explained steps require some knowledge of Moodle administration procedures. NanoGong requires the free Java Runtime Environment (also known as JRE) for both the teacher and the students' computers. You can download and install its latest version from http://java.sun.com. However, if you have already worked with the JClic examples, you already have this pre-requisite installed on your computer.

Time for action – creating a NanoGong assignment to record a sentence

We are now going to add a new NanoGong assignment to an existing Moodle course.

  1. Log in to your Moodle server.
  2. Click on the desired course name (Circus).
  3. Click on the Add an activity combo box for the selected week and select [[typenanogong]]. The name appears under the Assignments category, as shown in the next screenshot.

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

  4. Enter Recording a sentence using certain words in Assignment name.
  5. Select Verdana in font and 5 (18) in size—the first two combo boxes below Description.
  6. Click on the Font Color button (a T with six color boxes) and select your desired color for the text.
  7. Click on the big text box below Description and enter the following description of the student's goal for this exercise. You can use the enlarged editor window as shown in the next screenshot:

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

  8. Close the enlarged editor's window.
  9. Select 100 in Grade.
  10. Scroll down and click on the Save and display button. The web browser will show the description for the NanoGong assignment.

What just happened?

We added a NanoGong assignment to a Moodle course that will allow a student to record his/her voice with a sentence that has to include the three specified words. Now, the students are going to be able to read the goals for this activity by clicking on its hyperlink on the corresponding week and then, they are going to click on the record button in the recorder included at the bottom of the page with the assignment. It is going to be easy for them to upload their recordings.

As NanoGong is an assignment, we were able to add the description of the goal and the three words to use in the sentence with customized fonts and colors using the online text activity editor features.

Time for action – recording the sentence with the NanoGong recorder

We will now help Alice to record her voice by using the NanoGong recorder.

  1. Log in to your Moodle server using the student role.
  2. Click on the course name (Circus).
  3. Click on the Recording a sentence using certain words link on the corresponding week. The web browser will show the description for the activity and the three words to be used in the sentence.
  4. Click on the Record button (the grey circle) on the recorder located at the bottom of the page and start reading the sentence. The recorder will display green bars indicating the input level of the voice being recorded, as shown in the next screenshot:

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

  5. You need a microphone connected to the computer in order to record your voice with the NanoGong recorder.

  6. Once you finish reading the sentence, click on the Stop button (the grey square). The NanoGong recorder will stop recording your voice.
  7. Click on the Play button (the grey triangle) on the recorder and check that your voice was recorded as expected.
  8. Click on the Submit Assignment button below the recorder.
  9. Log out and log in with your normal user role. You can check the submitted assignments by clicking on the Recording a sentence using certain words link on the corresponding week and then on View x submitted assignments. X is the number of assignments submitted so far by the students. Moodle will display the NanoGong recorder for the uploaded recording for each student that submitted this assignment, as shown in the next screenshot:

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

  10. You will be able to click on the Play button and listen to the recorded sentence without having to leave the web page.
  11. Click on Grade in the corresponding row on the grid. A feedback window will appear with a text editor, a drop-down list with the possible grades, and the NanoGong recorder. You will be able to click on the Play button on this player and listen to the sentence recorded by the student.
  12. Select the grade in the Grade drop-down list and write any feedback in the text editor, as shown in the next screenshot. Then click on Save changes. The final grade will appear in the corresponding cell in the grid.

    Teaching Special Kids how to write Simple Sentences and Paragraphs using Moodle 1.9

What just happened?

In this activity, we defined a simple list of words and we asked the student to record a simple sentence by using the embedded voice recorder. In this case, as we used the NanoGong assignment, it is easier for the student to record his/her voice. It is easier to check the results for the teacher as well.

Summary

In this article we have learned :

  • Prepare and record a sentence with many predefined words
  • Record, encode, and upload digitalized voice as a result of a Moodle exercise
  • Prepare images that combine clipart pictures with geometric shapes

If you have read this article you may be interested to view:


Moodle 1.9 for Teaching Special Education Children (5-10): Beginner's Guide Create courses and therapies for children with special educational needs using Moodle for effective e-learning
Published: July 2010
eBook Price: $26.99
Book Price: $44.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

About the Author :


Vanesa S. Olsen

Vanesa Olsen is a Speech Therapist. She has been working for more than five years in therapeutic centers, schools, and hospitals. She has been applying modern technologies in language disorders and learning disability treatments, and in helping schools to keep the students in the least restrictive environment. Specifically, she has been working with Moodle as an e-Learning platform, Alice and other tools, combined with the usage of Web 2.0 and general purpose modern hardware as gamepads, pen sketches, touch screens, netbooks and joysticks. She enjoys helping children and teenagers to improve their skills.

She has written another book for Packt Publishing, Moodle 1.9 for Teaching Special Education Children (5-10): Beginner's Guide.

She lives with her husband, Gaston, and her little son, Kevin. When she is not working she devotes her spare time to her family and hobbies. She enjoys modeling in cold porcelain, swimming, and researching about new technologies and techniques to apply in her treatments.
You can contact her at vanesaolsen@gmail.com and at olsenvanesa@live.com

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