With so many ways to use technology in the classroom, one of my most reliable uses is the use of the audio book.
As a middle teacher who teaches students whom have newly migrated to America, have special needs, or various other circumstances, I am challenged to meet the needs of each student not only individually, but also the whole class during the time given. I decided to go back to basics. Basics being, going back to what many of the elementary school teachers are already doing. Stations, and reading TO children.
“Using our audio books with a listening center has not only increased fluency with my English speakers, but lent itself to help my ELL students learn ways to pronounce words.”
Students with a reading problem have been deemed “reluctant” readers. I disagree. If anyone hands me reading material that has to do with budgets or interest rates, I am reluctant to read it. So does this make me a reluctant reader? No, I am just not interested. Though most of my students are re-learning how to decode words and figure out the meaning of the words in front of them, they really do want to be able to read current books that all of the other students are talking about. Take The Hunger Games: my school is doing a whole field day dedicated to the book. In order to understand things, and join in the lively discussions, they would have to be able to read the book. But the problem is that my class still requires me to address their reading deficits.
So, in order to meet the requirements of the curriculum and also the students, I set up stations within the classroom. We begin with Whole group instruction which addresses overall ideas or, if using the Corrective Reading program as in my class, addressing the decoding issues based on their current reading level, and then we break into groups. The Califone Listening Center is in a part of the room while other students are on the computer or meeting with me, discussing the assigned chapters. (I no longer have an assistant to help with reading to the students or helping with pronunciation) I have found that using our audio books with a listening center has not only increased fluency with my English speakers, but lent itself to help my ELL students learn ways to pronounce words in the English language. Colleagues are amazed at how fast ELL students become fluent in speaking English, but cannot read in English. By using the listening center, my students are learning to attach words they hear others use to the words they see on the pages.
The listening center also has lent itself to rebuilding some lost self-esteem of students whom have become embarrassed and/or chastised by others for not being able to read as fast. When using the listening center no one is aware of how fast or slow the other students are reading. It can be very private.
I am not going to lie, there are times when I don’t use the listening center for audio books…it is fun to play popular music when the kids enter the room, and also to just listen to some quiet music during independent reading time. As I see it, this has become quite the great “Equalizer” in the classroom, and the school…for students with different needs, and teachers with many students from different backgrounds.
Lisa Rodriguez-Davis is a reading teacher for ELL and Special Needs students at Howard Middle School in Orlando, FL