We received this inspiring story in an email from Paula Parkinson, a teacher at Hallettsville Junior High in Texas…
I use audiobooks in my class regularly because of all the success struggling readers experience with the support of hearing a story aloud. It enables readers to enhance the mental image of characters and settings in their minds. Visualization is a weakness for some students since we are in an age of technology and excellent computer graphics so that visualization skills are lacking for some readers. They can connect the auditory image to a visual image after hearing the words of the text pronouced correctly and seeing them in print. The quality of the tapes and CDs is excellent–produced and read by experienced actors who are fluent readers and who can pronounce words with the proper dialect and expression.
Also by using audiobooks I feel certain that students are having a better reading experience than if they read the text individually. I can stop the tape or CD to emphasize vocabulary or points the author is trying to make. Last year I used 2 audio books in the spring semester, Lyddie by Katherine Paterson and Animal Farm by George Orwell. Because all students in a class had just heard the same chapters, our classroom discussions had more depth and students had a deeper understanding of the events in the story. Student response was very positive and scores on classwork were higher than in other years. Even for the advanced students, the audio books added deeper meaning to the literature and heir responses in writing. By using those 2 books on tape with the entire 8th grade, I believe it is a contributing factor to the success of my students on their standardized reading test, and why our campus received a higher rating than before.
In addition, I can monitor the classroom more effectively instead of reading aloud myself. After 17 years of teaching language arts, I am able to guide students to read books on higher lexile levels than those that they would read indepdendently, challenging them to stretch and grow to improve their individual lexile levels. Audiobooks positively changed my classroom mangement procedures, and enabled students to perform at higher levels than they ever dreamed possible!
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