Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My New Favorite App 3: Learning Ally

is my new favorite technology for my classroom.


Many special education teachers find that 
IEP modifications such as "teacher will provide student with audio books"
are common in the writing of IEPs. Rightfully so.
Audiobooks help students to comprehend text that they may not have 
been able to access due to their disability. 
They are a necessary modification that benefits many learners.

Students can set up their library on the web and listen on their iPhones.  There are options for voice only and voice+text.  I have students that prefer one or the other. The students are now in the routine of bringing phones/iPads/devices to school and I have the application downloaded on our PC's, too!

The Importance of Audiobooks
Learning Ally explains:

"Whether it be from decoding difficulties, phonological processing issues, or even vocabulary stumbling blocks; audiobooks have proven to help countless students engage with text that a student could not read alone."

"For many students with a learning disability like dyslexia, without proper phonological awareness and decoding skills, their listening comprehension is much higher than their reading comprehension. With the help of audiobooks, students can rely on listening skills to help maintain fluency in grade level curriculum, materials, fiction, non-fiction, literature and more."

excerpts from: here.

Trying to Find Audiobooks 
Finding audio books can be difficult. 
Years ago, districts purchased tapes or CDs for students to receive audio book accommodations.
Then, not every book was available.  One year, I even recorded myself reading classroom texts for each day and placed it on a tape player (yes, a cassette tape) for a student to listen to while others were independently reading. But today, since most students no longer have a CD player, there are a variety of online books for students as audiobooks. Sadly, many are pricy per book. Others are pricy per student

Enter Learning Ally.


Above are screenshots from one of my students' accounts. I provided the students with all the textbook and novel titles for the year and they searched the site to add all the books at once into their library.  They then download the books when they need them on their device and listen in school or at home.

In My Classroom

I have been using it for a few weeks now and here are my thoughts...

All the textbooks, class novels, and many independent reading selections are available on Learning Ally.  This make my job of tracking down audio books easy!

What I am most excited about in my classroom, however, 
is the motivation that the app is providing my students. The students are increasing their reading independence and decreasing reading anxiety.  For some, they are heading what good fluency sounds like.  (And an added bonus, they like the REAL voices instead of the digital-sounding-voices).

  Maybe it is simply the fact that the students are allowed to 
bring in their device and a set of headphones. Although I doubt it.  ;)

Tips
Don't assume that your students know HOW to use audio books.
It is important to show them the Learning Ally website and app.
In my opinion, it is a skill to use audio books correctly.

It is a skill to be able to use reading skills (such as looking back in the text) with audiobooks.  Take the time to show them and they will meet success quicker.... and "buy in" that this is a took that will help their learning.

Have students practice searching for books and downloading books.  Have students practice reading a segment and answering comprehension questions, asking them to reflect whether they should re-listen to the section or rewind.  Have them practice the length of text they should listen to before pausing to take notes or complete comprehension guides. Have students play with the settings (speed/pitch of voice) to reflect on their preference.



2 comments:

James Kateron said...

Thank you for sharing this knowledge. We live in the era of new technology when our phones are filled with useful information and apps that come in handy exactly when you need them. We don’t have to remember complicated stuff anymore, there’s always an app for this if we look carefully enough. See more http://survival-mastery.com/skills/communication/survival-apps.html

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