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First Grade Teacher Shares Personal Gratitude for Human-Read Audiobooks to Grow Children’s Learning Confidence

Categories: Assistive Technology, Curriculum & Access, dyslexia, Early Literacy, Education & Teaching, Educators, Learning Ally “How-To Use”, Learning Disabilities, Reading Strategies for K-12, Teacher Best Practices

At Brooklyn Arbor Elementary School in New York City, first grade teacher Maria Arcodia noticed that children in her early education classes who struggled to read could hold broader conversations and comprehend spoken words, but could not grasp the full concepts of stories with printed text. 

As the mother of a child with a visual impairment and dyslexia, she fully understood the emotional toll that children who struggle to read experience without the necessary instruction and support. Her son struggled throughout elementary and middle school, until he was given a reading accommodation in high school where he could listen to curriculum and stories through human-read audiobooks.  

“The combination of seeing the text, hearing it spoken correctly aloud, and the ability to manipulate the page format and rate of speed made it easier for him to understand what he read,” said Ms. Arcodia. When she saw
the difference that human-read audiobooks made in her son's life, she knew it would help many more younger children in her own classroom. 

Multisensory Reading Approach 

In her classes, Ms. Arcodia assists each child to log in to Learning Ally and choose their first book. Sometimes it is a book that they always wanted to read, but felt it was too tricky until they were given accessible text. 

After downloading the book to the digital bookshelf, her students choose their preferred background color, font color, size and spacing of print and speed of audio playback. They learn to use advanced features like how to bookmark a page, find definitions and synchronize their bookshelves. "At this point, they get really excited about the tool and the freedom to read independently at their leisure," says Ms. Arcodia. She also helped parents and caregivers become familiarized with the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution and why it is beneficial in helping to improve children's reading skills. Parents appreciated having the reading resource at their school, and to see their child’s reading enthusiasm and progress. 

Brooklyn Arbor Elementary School saw early education success too. 

  • Teachers could more easily collaborate across grade levels to develop, track, and adjust a student’s IEP plans. 

  • More students bridged the gap between their ability to decode words and their intellectual capability to understand what they heard, deepening their vocabulary and content knowledge. 

  • English language learners could learn content along with reading and speaking skills. 

  • More students could access the same content as their peers, and gained confidence to learn grade-level content. 

  • Children who spoke Spanish, but may not have known how to read in their native language, could access grade-level content, while seeing and hearing the words spoken aloud with correct intonation and prosody. 

Ms. Arcodia summed up her experience saying, "Giving children an opportunity as early as possible to listen to human-read audiobook stories was a winning strategy for our school, our students and their families, and our teachers." 

New Excite Reading™

For children to truly understand what they read, research shows that skilled reading requires not only word recognition and decoding, but also language comprehension, including background knowledge and vocabulary. Learning Ally’s new Excite Reading™ for children in Pre-K to Grade 2 focuses on building comprehension by encouraging the joy in reading with authentic children’s literature read by human narrators, and by helping children explore ideas and build skills with lessons that prompt rich discussion and model best reading practices. 

Download a free e-book and accompanying teacher guide now. 


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