Teaching with audiobooks

June is Audiobook Month, and Jen over at Devourer of Books has decided to celebrate with her very own Audiobook Week! All of this week, I’m going to be joining in and posting about audiobooks, including reviews, daily topic discussions, and my own ideas about how we can use audiobooks in different ways throughout our daily lives.

For today, I’ve decided to forego the daily topic (recommended audiobooks), and instead present my own.

Today’s topic is: Audiobooks for teaching

Last year, I was teaching at a completely different school than the one I’m at now. Most of the students were white, well-off, and academically inclined. There was a lot more parental involvement, and a lot more pressure to “accommodate” students with special education needs. (As an aside, my school now has just as much of a focus on “accommodation” and differentiation, just that we have far less parental involvement and it’s more of a push on the part of the teachers ourselves to find a way to get through to the students.) At my current school, almost all of the students have learning difficulties of some kind or another, but at my last school, those students were few and far between.

One of the common problems for those students last year was with reading – a few of them just couldn’t read at a high enough level to get into the “reading flow” on their own, a couple “didn’t like” reading, and at least one was dyslexic, which made it incredibly hard and frustrating for him. When my grade nine students were reading Lord of the Flies, one of the parents bought her son an audiobook copy for him to listen to, and he actually did it! It was the first part of the course that he was really able to do without so much difficulty, and he seemed to really enjoy the book. He also understood far more of what was going on than he would have otherwise.

This got me to thinking … why had I never seen audiobooks used in a classroom before? The closest I had seen to that was using short audio clips in my high school French class, to work on our listening skills. I had never seen this in any other class, though, least of all in an English class! We’re expecting our students to improve their listening skills, and we want them to read these books and comprehend everything, but we’re often just letting them stay frustrated if they can’t physically read something. Why not try out using audiobooks?

I haven’t gotten a chance to do this in a classroom yet – the books that I used this year with my students were unavailable in audiobook format – but I really want to. It just seems like such a great accommodation, such a fantastic way to differentiate instruction and to help out students who struggle so much with the written word!

I’ve included a couple resource links here for using audiobooks (and ebooks) in the classroom:

This is just a beginning, though; I’m really hoping to find more information and resources to use.

Do you have any resources or links to share? Any experiences with using audiobooks in your classroom? Have any of your students (or your children, if you’re not a teacher) used audiobooks at home for a course?

Share them with us all!

3 thoughts on “Teaching with audiobooks”

  1. I would certainly think that audiobooks would be helpful in the upper grades, after all it is pretty well accepted to use listening libraries in the primary grades where you listen and read along. Just don’t do the whole-class listen and read along thing, one of my English teachers Senior year did that and it was beyond boring. I did have a 6th grade teacher that had us listen to The Odyssey, though. She turned off all the lights and had us get comfortable, but I think that most of us stayed awake regardless.

  2. i do not know how audiobooks would work. will have to ponder it.

    i agree with Jen. older grades could be difficult, especially if approached improperly.

    in earlier grades though, i had some great reading aloud experiences (the whole narnia series) with people following in their own books if desired..
    totaled about an hour a day.. 2 hours if we were at a good part and could talk Mr.Hurst into appeasing us.

    1. We used to read aloud a lot in class, and it really bothered me because the voices would always change and often people didn’t read very well. Then I would read ahead, and would get in trouble for it. 🙁 I think that audiobooks might be a way to fix that in younger grades, but then you lose the reading aloud part, which isn’t entirely good. It might relieve some of the pressure in higher grades, though, when kids are embarrassed about their lack of reading skills.

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