GarageBand in First Grade

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GarageBand has been an incredible application to use with my first graders on a weekly basis.  I have been using it on our laptops but it can also be used on the iPads. 

When first adapting to my Mac, I thought GarageBand was overwhelming and would be too tricky to use myself let alone with my first graders.  Boy was I wrong!  It is incredibly easy and all of my first graders are able to maneuver around, record themselves successfully and listen to recordings from GarageBand which has great classroom benefits.  

To Get Started:
1. Open GarageBand 2. Select “New Project” (on the lefthand side) 3. Select “Voice.” 4.  Click “Choose.”

5. Chose a name for your file.  *If my students are using GarageBand for fluency practice I always have them  save their document as the title of their poem or story.  6. Press Create (I have yet to mess with tempo signature, or key-you can just leave it alone!)

7. Start Recording.  Press the red circle to begin recording.  To stop the recording press the space bar.  To get back to beginning of the piece press “Enter/Return.”

Each time you start and stop you will see a purple bubble appear.  As you are recording the bubble will be red.  When you stop it will immediately turn purple.   

Common Core Alignement: 
CC.1.R.F.4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension. 

CC.1.OA.6 Add and subtract within 20.  Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10.  

Student Uses for GarageBand: 

1. Math Fact Fluency-Students are given flashcards to practice math facts.  The best part is students like to hear their voice fluently so they keep practicing the facts (without being told!) until they memorize the fact.  The first time through I will often see kids using fingers but they will practice until they know the fact and can read it without any pausing.  

2. Reading Story/Poem Fluency-Students practice reading poems and stories into GarageBand.  Again, I will see/hear students sounding out words their first time through.  Then as they listen to their story they will delete it and say things like, “I can do better” and try again…ALL ON THEIR OWN!  I don’t even have to prompt them.  Perfect for fluency practice!
Poem Notebook Fluency Practice

Teacher Uses for GarageBand:

1. Spelling Tests-differentiated lists!  My team and I pre-make multiple spelling lists each week.  Currently I have 2 completely different spelling lists in my classrooms and at the beginning of the year I had 3.  On Fridays when students take their spelling tests they simply click on their spelling test (I save the different tests under specific group names so students know where to click) and start listening!

Students go to the center with the GarageBand recording and take their spelling test while listening to each word read from the computer.   I do not have to waste time during the school day to give multiple spelling tests.  Students simply take their test at an independent reading center.  

Added benefit of using GarageBand for spelling tests: I do not have to repeat sentences 5 times because ONE student is not listening!!  Children can listen to words and sentences as many times as they want/need which is really helpful.  Also, for the quicker students their is no wait time because they can move at their own pace.      

Taking his spelling test in GarageBand at an independent reading center (which easily allows for multiple lists in a single classroom.)

Quick Tips: 
1. Kids should stop and listen to their work often.  In my room, I stop recording after each sentence for spelling tests and every page for stories. When children are recording poems they are asked to go to the punctuation mark and press the space bar to stop.  If recording themselves students should listen to their work after each  time they press the space bar to stop.  Then, decide for that “bubble” if they want to keep it and move on or delete and rerecord.     
2.  The music feature is great but to be honest for our purposes (fluency) it is not necessary.  The kids are highly engaged and love hearing their own voice so much that we have not needed to introduce the music portion to our recordings.  

 ***If you do decide to introduce music I would have students add it last-sometimes students will get caught up with the music and not care as much about the fluency 🙂  ***

Enjoy your Wednesday!


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9 thoughts on “GarageBand in First Grade”

  1. I loved using Garage Band with my first graders. I haven't used it as a reading specialist though. I sort of forgot about it. Now you have me thinking about the possibilities for practicing fluency and expression! Following you now…I'll be back soon to visit! 🙂


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