7 Benefits of Audiobooks

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Is listening to an Audiobooks the same as reading a book? Is it cheating or lazy to listen to instead of actually reading it? Do audiobooks help to develop readers or hurt their development?

All of these questions were unearthed during a conversation I had with a fellow educator whose daughter was listening to books at home instead of reading them. The simple answer is YES, audiobooks are similar to reading and have benefits to the listener.

Some date the origins of audiobooks to that of oral storytelling and how stories were passed down through generations before a written language and the act of reading was mainstream for the common person. In education, I was surprised to see the amount of research done around this area and found most agree that similar skills are used and when you consider the goal of reading, listening to an audiobook does count as reading.

The goal of reading is not to decode words and be able to pronounce them but to comprehend and think critically about what you read.

With this goal in mind, I offer 7 Benefits of Audiobooks:

  1. Independence – A student’s oral vocabulary far outreaches their reading abilities. When one accesses an audiobook, it promotes independence. It also is a great way to differentiate content in the classroom! 
  2. Access to Information – Audiobooks, and listening to text, provides access to those students who wouldn’t be able to read the text independently. When teachers deny students access to information based on their reading level they are promoting a division of inequity. There are many reasons why students struggle to read, but just because they can not decode specific words on a page does not mean that they also struggle to think and understand. Reading level does not equal intelligence, but limiting access to information because of it harms students.  
  3. Broadens one’s world, locales, accents, dialects, cultures – Stories have the ability to transport readers to different places, experience different cultures, and identify with others who are similar. Developing empathy and awareness can be achieved through audiobooks, with the bonus of hearing different accents and dialects.
  4. Linguistically Rich – Promotes Storytelling – Audiobooks promote storytelling. Students listen to a linguistically rich text and are inspired to talk about their book by connecting it to their own experiences or other things they have read or viewed. The more stories one collects, the more language they acquire to share their own voice.
  5. Increases: Motivation, Background Info. Content Knowledge, Vocabulary – Listening to audiobooks has been shown to increase motivation in reading which is an essential element for struggling adolescent readers. Research also shows audiobooks help to increase background information and content knowledge and is especially beneficial to our EL (English Learners) students.
  6. Models Good Reading – Audiobooks, similar to read aloud, models good reading to students. Hearing an expert reader adds experience to all growing readers.
  7. Improves: Critical Listening Skills, Reading Accuracy, Fluency – Audiobooks not only promote critical listening skills, an essential life skill but also help student reading accuracy and fluency. Fluency is so much more than reading fast. Audiobooks allow students to not only see words pronounced correctly but hear and notice pronunciation, rate, speed, pausing, stress, and intonation.

Better Listeners LEARN More!

There are many places to access audiobooks:

Check your local and school library.

Open Culture

Storynory

Learn Out Loud

Epic!  

Project Gutenberg

Celebrating EdTech Women Making an Impact

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March is known as Women’s History Month and this year the theme honors Trailblazers whose passion has influenced their respective field of work. This month I plan to highlight groups of Edtech Women each Friday that are leading the way in our field, celebrating their passion, innovations, and work. These women are helping to lead the way in creating a change in the field of education that is best for kids around the world.

leslie.jpegLeslie Pralle Keehn, Instructional Technology Consultant at Prairie Lakes AEA

“I want to help teachers and students follow their passions to create, change, and lead a  world that is better off than when I entered it.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: DIY.org, ISTE Young Educator Network, #ObserveMe movement
  • Advice: Don’t let any individual or system keep you from doing the work that is best for your kids. There is a huge network of educators ready to lift you up and support you, often only one click away.
  • Connect with Leslie: @LPralleK (Twitter and IG)

 

beth-500Beth Holland, doctoral student, writer, consultant

“My entire education focus has always been to find the best possible ways to create meaningful learning experiences for students.”

 

julieJulie Daniel Davis, Technology Coordinator

“Somewhat of a futurist, I am passionate about meeting teachers and students individual needs through the use of technology and taking them forward in their growth as lifelong learners.”

 

alice.jpgAlice Keeler, Teacher and EdTech Blogger

“You don’t teach a class, you teach a room full of individuals.”

headshot_jenn_2Jennifer Womble, Program Chair, Future of Education Technology Conference

“My mission is to design the highest quality professional development that inspires educators, accelerates learning and engages curious minds.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: Catchbox (great for engaging audiences and getting people talking), Mentimeter (perfect for visualizing responses from an audience),
    Google Cardboard (inspiring VR with low cost tools and apps)
  • Advice: Engage your professional passion every day; teaching children requires building relationships and inspiring thinking, when educators are passionate, students are motivated to create, be curious and learn new things.
  • Connect with Jennifer: Twitter @JenWomble and at face to face conferences around the country–especially FETC

 

karaKara Welty, Mentor Teacher and Technology Integrationist

“Do everything with great love.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: All things GAFE, Do Ink Green Screen App for iPad, Seesaw
  • Advice: Let your heart steer you. Follow and embed your passions as an educator into everything you do. When it is clear to others that you love your work and thoroughly enjoy what you do, it is contagious to all who interact with you. Be the person that uplifts everyone you meet through EVERY single interact you have. Furthermore, anyone who dedicates their life to teaching, leading, and learning understand how important our roles are and see how much it takes to be an educator that our students need.  Having said that, through your journey, keep your eye focused on what really matters, which is always the people we serve. Through serving others, we grow and become better as a result. Give yourself grace and acknowledge the incredible acts of service YOU dedicate to your school and community. Lastly, continue taking in as much knowledge and inspiration from the people around you and you will be UNSTOPPABLE!
  • Connect with Kara: Twitter- @kara_welty, Website- karawelty.com, Instagram- kara_welty

 

sueSue Gorman, Consultant

“Always see the good in everything and everyone and be kind always.“

victoriaVictoria Olson, Grade 3/4 Teacher & Technology Coach

“To me, education is about nurturing the growth of the whole child and providing them autonomy in their learning so that they’re proud of what they can offer the world.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: Explain Everything, YouTube Playlists, Google Classroom, IFTTT
  • Advice: Let kids make mistakes and give them space and time to realize it. When adults interject too much in the lives of kids, we are failing them. Realizing mistakes allows kids to build independence, self-regulation, and resilience.
  • Connect with Victoria: Twitter @MsVictoriaOlson, Insta @msvictoriaolson, Blog: techteacheronamission.com

 

kerryKerry Gallagher, Digital Learning Specialist at St. John’s Prep, Director of K-12 Education for ConnectSafely, and EdSurge Columnist

“Start with a question, and let your search for answers lead to better questions.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: Open Education Resources, Formative , PlayPosit
  • Advice: While it is important to listen to the feedback of your colleagues in your school and your PLN, be true to yourself and your students when you make your final decisions about what happens in your classroom and how you represent yourself to the world professionally.
  • Connect with Kerry: Twitter: @KerryHawk02, My Blog www.KerryHawk02.com

 

heatherHeather Callihan, District Technology Integrationist

“Every day is an opportunity: As an educator, I embrace the opportunities, reflect on the process, learn from others and never stop learning!”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: Google Keep, Twitter and Podcasts
  • Advice: Failure is a learning opportunity.  Own your experiences and embrace all opportunities!
  • Connect with Heather: Twitter @hcallihan email: hcallihan@ginorthwest.org

 

3 Alternatives for Generating Citations

adobe-spark-7

Just as one should always backup their pictures, documents, and videos in multiple places; so should educators always have a backup for their favorite digital resources, tools, and apps. In the blink of an eye, something that was accessible yesterday could vanish into the digital abyss just as the recent deletion of the Research Tool in Google Docs. Educators and students had grown accustomed to the search and citation options available with the “Research Tool” and many are now scrambling for alternatives…

Here are 3 Citation Generating Alternatives to Consider:

 

  1. logo-easybib-cheggEasyBib – A free citation generator that is available online, as an app, extension, and as a Google Doc Add-On. EasyBib is also offering a free EasyBibEdu account for all educators for the 2016-17 school year. Not only can you generate citations using MLA, APA, and Chicago styles, with EasyBib, you can also create notecards, outlines, and avoid plagiarism and check the reliability of websites.

 

  1.  citation-machine-logoCitation MachineA free tool that helps “students and research professionals properly credit the information that they use. Its primary goal is to make it so easy for student researchers to cite their information sources, that there is virtually no reason not to.” It allows users to choose from 4 styles – MLA, APA, Chicago, and Tribune. It is a web resource that is simple to use.

 

  1.  refme-logoRefMe – Also a free web tool that allows users to create citations and manage them by scanning the barcode. Choose from over 7,000 styles to fit requirements. RefMe also allows you to share your list of citations with others making it perfect for collaboration and group work. RefMe is a web resource and also an app. Cut and paste citations into documents or download the entire bibliography.

 

No one is happy when a widely used digital tool suddenly disappears.

As educators, we need to model to our students how to readjust and seek alternatives. And remember, most digital tools have feedback options so users can share their likes or needs with the creators. You can find Google’s feedback form here. Help to improve Google’s products for all user, let them know your thoughts.  

Current Brain Research Tells Us…

File_000 (3)The traditional model of “School” was created to support the Industrial Age, pushing out workers into an economy that valued monotony and the algorithmic routines of assembly lines. Students learned the same thing, at the same time, and developed the same skills necessary for the type of work environment most would enter after graduation. Current brain research reveals 4 important truths that have been missed in the past. This understanding of the brain supports the current economy which places value on skills such as critical thinking, creativity, global connections, and heuristic means to create novel ideas.

Do This

Not This

#1   Intelligence is Variable

We think, learn, and create in different ways. Intelligence is multifaceted and students need a range of opportunities to discover varied intelligences.

Intelligence is Singular

Intelligence is developed and demonstrated in one way. There is only one right answer and one way to demonstrate understanding.

#2   The brain is Malleable

Intelligence can continue to grow and be strengthened. Intelligence is NOT fixed, the capacity to continue to learn is immeasurable. Provide students with varied and rich learning experiences to strengthen multiple intelligences.

The brain is Fixed

Intelligence is fixed and determined at birth. Only the earliest years in a child’s life are important for brain strength and growth. Educators can not fill the gaps from home.

#3   The brain hungers for Meaning

Learners seek to make sense of information and recognize patterns, connections to prior knowledge and experiences and organize their learning around larger concepts.

The brain recalls Information

Learners retain information best when imposed upon them. Teaching students important test-taking vocabulary and information in isolation ensures understanding.

#4   We learn best with moderate Challenge

Learners retreat to self-protection mode if faced with too tough of a challenge or have been allowed to continually fail. If the task is too easy, motivation and interest wane. A task that is challenging for one learner may not be for another, therefore differentiating tasks is key.

We learn best through Success

Learners who succeed will continue to learn and push themselves. Tasks should be designed so all students experience immediate success. Any difficulty in learning is met with resistance and the learner gives up.

(Information in part via Tomlinson)

As educators, this information helps to inform practice and remove outdated bias we hold on students, learning, and intelligence. With the understanding that the brain is malleable and intelligence is variable, differentiation in the classroom and rich learning experiences support all students. Tasks and units can be designed to support inquiry, provide choice, and are tied to conceptual thinking. Students grow and strengthen intelligence in multiple areas and leave our care with the ability to think, learn, and create differently.

 

Sources:

  • Carol Ann Tomlinson
  • Howard Gardner
  • Carol Dweck

If We Only Post The Pretty

On average, I walk through the halls of five schools a week. Whether supporting an administration team working on their school improvement plan, or helping a teacher orchestrate first-time bloggers in her English 9 class; as soon as I walk through the doors I intentionally pause and notice my surroundings. Greetings by students and adults, displays on the wall, color choices in the rooms, cleanliness in the commons area, and a plethora of other sensory signals unknowingly flood my subconscious creating a snapshot of the climate, culture, and values shared by the adults and students in the building.

Trophies and State Championship Banners adorning the entrance communicate pride in athletics, tradition, achievement. Inspirational quotes, Character Counts Posters, and a birthday calendar promote community and relationships. While many schools have a combination of values on display, the one thing I almost never see is student thinking, or more specifically, the process.

End products commonly adorn the walls of the classroom and the halls of the building. Typically, uniformed in size and color. Poems transferred to white paper, typed in black ink and hanging from the ceiling by equal length fishing line. Unique art work mounted to black paper and systematically lined up on the tack strip with 1 inch between each. As educators, we know displaying student work is important, but as humans, we also want it to look good. What we fail to think about is the signals it sends to our students = work must be pretty to earn a spot on the wall. I, too, am guilty of this. I remember having my student tutor rewrite Shakespeare Quotes that students loved on tan paper so that they would look better, all having the same handwriting and on the same paper. What I didn’t consider was the message that it sent to the students the next day when they walked into class and saw “their” quote replaced by a “prettier” one.

Learning is messy, and as I reflect back, I realize I missed the point of the whole assignment. It is not about the acrostic poem lined in green paper and displayed uniformly across the wall that was cause for celebration; it was the process! Gathering ideas and images, organizing thoughts, painstakingly editing and revising both alone and with a partner to choose that perfect word. The counting of syllables on fingers, referencing rhyming dictionaries and each other for rhythmic purposes. The final poem was not the goal; instead, learning to think and write like a poet was; but nowhere in the classroom did you see those lessons learned and mastered.

Displaying student work is important, but highlighting student thinking is even more so. Include the thinking involved to produce the end product. Show the mistakes, the collaborating, the celebrating, and the creating! Let students witness the value you place in their process, not the student with the best handwriting or most glitter. Show all who enter the doors of your school, whether physically or virtually, that we celebrate learning!