The Amazon Echo and Echo Dot are voice-controlled devices that use Amazon’s Alexa. In some ways, it is like Siri, but has the ability to connect to other features and apps. The only difference between the Echo and Echo Dot is that the former has better sound quality and is more expensive than the latter. You can set up various “skills” through the Alexa app. This, plus the fact that such devices are relatively inexpensive, makes these smart speakers ideal for use in the classroom. Do you want to know how to use Echo, Echo Dot, and Alexa in the classroom? Read on to find out.
How to Use Echo and Echo Dot in the Classroom
Timers, routines, and schedules
Be efficient and organized by setting up reminders throughout the day. Add meetings to Google Calendar through a voice user interface. Some educational platforms like Canvas allow voice technology for tools such as hearing a to-do list inside the platform.
You can ask Alexa to play music and ambient sounds. Besides playing music from Amazon Prime Music, the Echo devices are now integrated with other music services like Pandora and Spotify. Teachers don’t have to stop what they are doing to add sound or music to the room. With one sentence, they can stay involved in their work while making adjustments to the classroom environment.
Read out loud
If you have books on Kindle, Audible, or iTunes, Alexa can read them out loud. Beyond reading, such devices can make stories interactive. For example, Capstone Publishing created a series called “You Choose,” which allows readers to choose how the book will progress.
Alexa can also spell words. This could be useful for students in the Writing Center or during Writer’s Workshop. If they have searched the Word Wall but still can’t find their word, they can ask Alexa for help.
Definitions and synonyms
Alexa can define words and act as a thesaurus. If you are teaching students to edit, this can be a fun way to practice using new words. During science, students could also ask Alexa to help them understand what a word means. The possibilities are endless!
Students can ask Alexa for sums and differences. If students are in math stations, this can be a fun way to self-check. She can also roll dice, flip a coin, and pick a card. These are great for stations or games.
Using the Amazon Skill Blueprints tool, teachers can create interactions for specific content. For example, using the quiz template, you can quiz students on a book they are reading in class. Once created, quizzes can be shared if students have their own voice device at home.
Check the weather
During calendar time, ask Alexa to tell the weather in your city and she will give you the forecast and temperature.
Do you need some ideas for games? There are hundreds of results for Alexa skills for kids! These range from educational games like Kids Trivia, Speak Listen Learn, and See Say to fun games like Animal Workout, Kids Animal Sounds, and The Finder Game for Kids.
Questions to Ask Alexa in the Classroom
“Alexa, what’s on my calendar today?”
Link Alexa to Google Calendar. If you’re using Google Classroom too, any assignments or events you’ve set up will be accessed by Alexa. During morning meeting, Alexa can go over the day’s assignments and events. You can add events to the calendar by saying “Alexa, add an event to my calendar.” Add special classroom events, field trips, birthdays, and parties to the calendar too.
“Alexa, what is the weather today?”
Once you have set up the Echo Dot and it knows your location, the device can be used to provide weather reports and forecasts. This is a routine that you could add to morning meetings. Students can take turns being the weather reporter.
“Alexa, set a timer for…”
You can use Alexa as a timer by telling her a duration. Once set, you can ask her how much time is left. You can also pause and resume the timer.
“Alexa, what is ____+_____?” or “____ x ____?” etc.
Alexa can do simple calculations. Students could play beat the calculator but versus Alexa!
“Alexa, pick a number between ___ and ___.”
You can use Alexa as a random number generator. It can be utilized for raffles, data collection, turn taking, partner selection, and more.
“Alexa, roll the dice.”
If you ask Alexa to roll the dice, she will give you a number between 1 and 6. Just like the random number generator, this can be used for turn taking.
“Alexa, flip a coin.”
Alternatively, you can ask Alexa “heads or tails” and she will tell you a result. Use this to make fair decisions if you don’t have a coin or to pop the Echo Dot in a math center.
“Alexa tell me a story…”
Asking this will make Alexa tell a random story. Mostly, the stories are fairy tales and folk tales. Set this up as a center during reading. You can also ask students to write a short summary of the story.
“Alexa, how do you spell…?”
Alexa can spell most words. In writing workshop, you can set up an editing station with the Echo Dot to limit the number of students wanting this service.
“Alexa, what is the definition of _______?”
Alexa can define words using an online dictionary. With young students, this might not be the best because often, definitions don’t help them understand the word without context.
“Alexa, what is a synonym for _______?”
Alexa can be used as a thesaurus. You could limit the students who can use this during Writing Workshop. For example, you can set it up so a group of students rotates into the Echo Dot writing center for editing.
Integrating voice technology into the classroom can enhance engagement and learning. Smart speakers can be beneficial for instruction because they are more communal in nature than a tablet or laptop. It is easier to limit off-task behavior on a voice device. With other devices, students may look up an answer but look at material not related to the task. With the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot, answers can be given without distraction. Now that you know how to use Echo, Echo Dot, and Alexa in the classroom, you might want to purchase it.
To buy the all-new Echo (3rd Gen) Smart Speaker with Alexa, click here.
To buy the Echo Dot (3rd Gen) Smart Speaker with Alexa, click here.
To buy the Echo Dot Kids Edition, an Echo designed for kids, with parental controls and 2-year worry-free guarantee (rainbow color), click here.
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