Product Review of Speech Journal
Speech Journal is a tool for adding audio narration to images. Students can add narration to single images or link several images and bits of narration together to create a narrated slide show. Students start by creating an account with their first and last names. (No data is collected outside the app, so names are safe.) They then choose an image, either taking a new one with the device’s camera or choosing one from the device’s photo library. The image can be moved and scaled, but further editing isn’t available. Students then hit the green record button and start talking. Students could journal in a stream-of-consciousness flow, read something they’ve written, or read another’s work. When finished, they hit stop and can choose to erase and re-record, play the recording, continue recording, save the recording, or add another image and continue recording. Adding another image creates a slideshow stream with narration. Saved recordings are kept in the archives and can be opened and added to later. Recordings can be emailed as Core Audio Files (.caf).
Use Speech Journal in special education to develop social stories or create a visual schedule for learners. Speech therapists can use it to record learners‘ articulation exercises or gather speech samples. ELA classes can use Speech Journal for storytelling, using a different image to represent the beginning, middle, and end of a story. Students can practice public speaking and presenting by creating a slideshow with images, recording a presentation, listening to themselves, and finally polishing the presentation.
In addition to its other uses, Speech Journal easily and beautifully satisfies the CCSS in Speaking and Listening for all elementary grades to “create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.” Students could choose a short story or poem to read aloud, select an image (or draw their own using a digital drawing app and save it to the camera roll), and then record themselves reading aloud.
Speech Journal is a versatile app that can be used for storytelling and to create narrated slideshows and presentations. That versatility is good and makes it a real bargain, but in a “jack of all trades, master of none” sort of way, apps are available that can handle each individual task better (Kid in Story Book Maker for social stories; Fotobabble for sharing audio and images; Popplet for presentations, for example). But those could really add up cost-wise and not be as easy to use. Kids will enjoy creating journal entries, empowered to choose their own images and record their own thoughts and voices, and educators can find many ways to use it. Speech Journal’s data is impressive. It holds multiple users and their recordings, and learners can add to previously saved recordings, allowing them to elaborate or hear their speaking or reading progress over time. The big drawback is sharing. Creations can be emailed, but only as separate audio and image files, not as an integrated file that can be viewed as it is in the app.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Design is simple, but very functional. Kids will enjoy being able to choose their own images and easily create their own audio.
Curriculum and Instruction
Written instructions explain the how-tos, but an 8-minute video tutorial gives a complete walk through with ideas for how to use the tool.