Before I tried this, I asked myself, "How much do I love my iPhone?" The answer was "A lot. A whole lot." I then looked at my class and wondered if it would be a good idea to let them get their hands on it. I admit, there was hesitation. I do believe the best in my students....but there are surely limits to how far I want to test that theory! However, once I spoke to the class about what I wanted to do and what my expectations were, their serious attitude (almost grave!) and thoughtful questions made me feel a lot better. So, I gave it a cautious try with close...and I do mean close... supervision. Soon, I felt more comfortable taking my eyes off my precious phone while it was in their precious hands. So far, it has worked quite well and no one in my class has ordered pizza, called my mother or downloaded any questionable apps. That being said, I wouldn't say this would work with any class. Yet, if you have an iPhone or something that would work in a similar way and a group of reasonably trustworthy students, perhaps this may be something you'd want to try.
Personally, it seems like no matter how hard I try, I can never hear my students read enough. I also was thinking of a quick and easy way for students to hear themselves read. So, I showed them how to use the Voice Recording application on my iPhone. I also laminated this instruction sheet so they could use it independently:
I put this as a centre where students could record themselves reading. I liked that they could listen to themselves afterward. At first, there was a lot of "I sound so WEIRD!!!" but they quickly got over it and were observed listening intently to themselves and noting areas of improvement. One comment I kept hearing was "I sound like a robot! So boring!!" I would encourage these students to reread their passage and attempt more appropriate intonation and expression. At the end of the day, it was interesting to listen to the recordings they left behind.
As their fingers whizzed around my touch screen, I would be conferencing with other students, doing other assessments or circulating around the room...while they were collecting oral reading samples for me, convenient! Also, it is a natural and non-threatening read-a-loud activity that even more shy, reluctant readers participated in with enthusiasm. They would just find a quiet, private corner and go for it, no need to worry about an audience. Some children were very adept with the iPhone since their parents already had one. In fact, I suspect they know how to work it better than I ever could.
For something more formal and uniform, I would supply students with a fluency passage according to their reading level. Here is one that I got from Reading A-Z. You will hear me mention this resource a lot because it is AMAZING. It is a reading resource site you have to pay for (completely worth it...a bargain!) but I have included one of their free samples here. Hopefully, I am not breaking any laws by putting this here!
I would then mark the fluency passage based on the recorded reading. Nothing can substitute a face-to-face reading assessment, especially when assessing comprehension. Yet, if you are looking for supplementary oral reading assessment to enrich what you already do, this has worked well. You can even instruct students to record answers to questions about the text, which is a great alternative to written responses.
Here is a sample of a recording from my iPhone. Even with the chatter in the background, the sound quality is very clear. It is a fluency passage from Reading A-Z, but not the one shown above. I had the students state their name before recording.
Phew....that was my first sharing blog post. I admit, it is scary! It is one thing to walk to the neighbouring classroom and talk to Natasha about this stuff, but to really put it "out there" is a bit nerve racking!
Leigh Ann Fitch
Thank you for visiting! I am a Canadian who teaches and lives in Oman. My goal for this blog is to improve my teaching by learning from fellow colleagues all over the world and sharing my reflections!