Thursday, October 13, 2011

So Long Books on Tape, Hello MP3s

Check out the line graph below. This graph illustrates a problem that no one is talking about in education.

Have you ever wonder what makes a "tough to teach student" tough to teach?  Ever wondered what the root cause of many vocabulary, listening, and expressive language problems is? It's called WORD POVERTY and it impacts educators every day in the form of students who struggle with reading, struggle with writing, struggle with listening skills and oral expression. 

Yes, indeed the adverse educational effect of word poverty are profound.    

As an SLP and Literacy Coach I have struggled with finding effective ways to overcome this 30 million word gap for years.  But I now have an idea I just have to share: RECORDED READINGS. 

But not the recoded readings you're thinking about (see below). 

In our current economic climate less and less of these exist in our classrooms. They are breaking down and not being replaced. Books on tape and CD are expensive, not to mention technologically outdated. CDs are today's version of 8-tracks! Oh, and in the age of acheivement testing, uninterrputed time for reading and read alouds is slowly being replaced with the development of test-takers.

Yes, indeed at a time when our kids need read to more, they are actually being read to less. If we want to overcome WORD POVERTY and even the playing field for kids who come from under-priveledged language environments I think this new spin on recorded readings is the answer!

So Long Books on Tape, Hello MP3s!

For the cost of one $300 listening center, you can purchase as many as 10 MP3 players. Most of our kids have them anyway so let's stop making them check them at the door of the school.

Either way, we need to find a way to get MP3 players in your classrooms. 

Download a FREE program called Audacity to your desktop.(Mac users can use GarageBand). Click Here To Download Audacity.

Audacity is a free easy to use audio recorder. Simply read any book you desire into the program and you can export (save) in MP3 format anywhere on your computer. Download your newly recorded book onto your MP3 player and VOILA!...You now have a high interest book in MP3 format that your students can listen to.  


10. It's cost effective.
9.  Kids love listening to recorded readings read by people they know, their teachers!
8. Students now have access to high interest reading material on recording.
7. Students are independent! No more wating for 5 of their peers to get to the listening center.
6. Students are mobile.
5. You can download books for students to listen to at home.
4. Kid who listen to recorded readings while following along in the text make up to 3X the gains in reading fluency as those who don't.
3. Reading & Listening to reading is the #1 way to build vocabulary.
2. Students can be read to EVERY day.
1. No more rewinding tapes!

Teachers in my district have really embraced this idea and are sharing book lists and recordings.  In just an hour 5 of my colleagues recorded 30 of their favorite books!

Take a listen to one of them! 

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