It all starts with Literacy.

New MP3 players to help kids get into books


Coming soon to classrooms served by Innovations for Learning:

A new generation of MP3 players that helps kids become readers of books.

About 2,500 of these iPod-looking devices are being readied for distribution to classrooms in Washington, D.C., Miami, Chicago and Seattle.

Children will use the devices to listen to a narrator read a book they’re holding. They’ll also hear that narrator ask the sort of questions a teacher would: “Look at the cover of the book. What do you think the story is about?”

“This will require them to think about the story, and not just passively listen to the story,” says Jackie Davis, IFL’s director of school services.

Hearing the stories while reading them builds the “concept of print” — the understanding that what you hear is represented on the page, says Michele Pulver, IFL’s director of teacher services. “It is also a tool to build fluency, because as students are exposed to good models, they will improve their own approximations of fluent reading. “

 A typical classroom will receive 10 of the players and a set of  about 50 printed books pegged to kindergarten and first- and second-grade reading levels. Each book has a corresponding recording in the MP3 player.

The design of the new player is especially child-friendly, with a large screen and four easy-to-use buttons to select the stories and control the volume.

Teachers will find the devices a big help for students who are having trouble reading on their own. Those kids will use the players in class during their independent reading time.

The handhelds are a big advance over the workstations that many teachers have used up till now. Those allowed several children to plug into a central device and listen to a story. But they didn’t carry as many titles as the handhelds. They didn’t allow for kids to advance at an individual pace as easily. And of course they weren’t portable.

An addition from IFL is the “teacher voice,” the narrator who reads the book as a teacher would, inserting questions before, during and after the reading to increase the kids’ comprehension and involvement.
“These are ‘think about it’ questions and do not require a response,” Pulver says. “In reality though, kids DO respond — answering right out loud.”

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