Perspectives on Whole Child Literacy

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The Power of Reading Practice Through Self-Selection

Categories: Activities, Audiobook Library, Books, Authors, & Movies, Curriculum & Access, Education & Teaching, Educators, Learning Ally “How-To Use”, Reading Strategies for K-12, Teacher Best Practices

Piqué Students' Interests with AudiobooksScreen Shot of many video book trailers.

Motivating students to read is an uphill climb, especially for struggling readers. How can you give these learners the power to read grade-level curriculum and motivate them to read with frequency? Alyssa Gray, a middle school teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools, VA uses Learning Ally’s “human-read audiobooks” with students who cannot easily read and comprehend books in print. 

One of her best practices in literacy is to engage students with age-appropriate, culturally-relevant audiobooks based on their backgrounds and interests. Ms. Gray prints a list of popular book titles and asks students to watch the book trailers on YouTube, and rate the books by their interest. This multi-media activity piques their interests and puts more learning power in their hands to self-select books. As students listen to audiobooks, they follow highlighted words without distraction. This frees their minds from painstakingly decoding words to enable them to read more fluently. Here is an example of a book trailer from James Patterson’s book, “Miserable: Middle School Get Me Out of Here” 

Audiobooks with Skilled Narration

Ms. Gray's ESOL and special education students benefit from human-read audiobooks because they can hear English spoken properly through skilled narration strengthening word recognition, vocabulary, and prosody. Her rule is to read for 20 minutes a day as she rotates reading stations so that students enjoy silent reading time. “The audiobook solution gives a definite advantage for students who have a difficult time completing reading assignments," says Ms. Gray. "Learning Ally’s app makes it easy for students to take notes for research and make book report citations. The classroom tools they need are built into the app so that students can do their work all in one place, create vocabulary lists, and set their reading preferences."

Power in Student Self-Selection of Books

When you give students a choice to self-select books of interests, it can help to build critical reading skills. Daily reading practice fosters reading enjoyment, encourages independent reading, and helps more struggling readers build a foundation for learning. The Learning Ally Audiobook Solution is a multi-sensory reading resource that levels the playing field for students who struggle to read providing them with more opportunities to achieve in school and in life. 

Literacy Leadership

We thank Ms. Gray for sharing her best practice in literacy and invite more practitioners to share their best practices, and to broaden their knowledge on literacy and leadership from many top literacy leaders. Join us for our next Spotlight Learning series, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion on March 30, 2022. Dr. Sherril English will discuss the foundational importance of literacy in achieving equity in disadvantaged populations. 

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