I provided my kids with podcast/audio streams to help them read primary and secondary sources, click the image below or hit it here to view an example module.

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My colleagues and I are still wrapping our head around what Common Core and Smarter Balanced Assessments “look” like in our social studies classrooms. With greater non-fiction reading comprehension being a point of emphasis across the board, student interaction with primary and secondary sources in the social studies classroom is (and really always should have been) a point of emphasis. MEAP style, rote fact recall, assessment-driven instruction is giving way to higher blooms/ inquiry based learning. I couldn’t be more excited, because of how authentic this type of learning is. Yet, the cognitive load does give me and my peers pause; given that so many of our students are already reading below grade level. With 80% of my building population on free or reduced lunch programs, the link between poverty and literacy deficiencies is painfully apparent. In my personal experience, a lot of the behavior problems I deal with are attempts to disguise a student’s reading deficiencies. By the time I see students in my secondary setting, they are timid at the mere site of challenging texts and employ low level “copy/paste” mentality of addressing questions.

One of the ways I’ve been able to get students to read challenging text, is by creating podcasts of rich non-fiction texts and embedding them along side the text itself. I tried text-to-speech browser plug-in’s but the robotic, intention-less, voices caused some of my struggling readers to disengage from the meaning of the text. I was inspired by the librivox project to create my own audiobooks/ podcasts of rich non-fiction texts to embed within my online learning modules that I create for my flipped classroom. I really don’t have quantitative data for it as of yet, but I do know that it has encouraged some of my struggling readers to take in the narrative rather than speed skimming for sentences that sound “important”.

All in all, it’s a great differentiation piece  Student who need it, use it, those that don’t simply skip by it and read the text by themselves. I’d be interested to hear if anyone else out there is doing something similar, knows of any studies related to this literacy intervention, and/or has any recommendations on how to further develop the pedagogy here.

Comments welcome below!

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