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Have you ever had a class where you looked up and realized no one in the room was talking? You’re so afraid to even say something because you don’t want to ruin this rare moment in time. The students haven’t noticed that the class is completely silent, but you noticed. Your head isn’t rattling with noise for the first time in hours and you’re holding your breath hoping it never ends.
What if I told you this moment could last the whole time students are in your room? Trust me art teachers:
Let me tell you how I figured out this silent art room secret. It all began while I was walking through the library during my planning period one day and noticed a strange phenomenon happening. A group of twenty-four children were sitting quietly on the floor listening to the librarian read to them. Hold on a second. Wasn’t this the same class that just filled my room with a perpetual state of noise? I immediately thought about how I could make this phenomenon play out in my own classroom. I thought, “I’m way too busy moving around the room to sit and read a book to my students, but wait… what about audiobooks!?”
If you’d like to try playing audiobooks while your students work, start with these 7 tips.
1. Choose your books wisely. (Not all audiobooks you have at your disposal will be age-appropriate or parent-approved.)
2. Screen your books. It’s always good to listen to the entire book first to make sure it is indeed appropriate.
3. Utilize your librarian. He or she will know the perfect grade level books to keep your students engaged.
4. Search for audiobooks at your school library and at the public library.
5. Give your students a few audiobooks to choose from. Let them vote as a class on the one they want to hear.
6. Keep track of where a class is at in a book. I like to use a post-it note on my seating chart for this purpose.
7. Do a quick search on Pinterest or YouTube for free audiobooks online. (Trust me, I have found a ton!)
After several years of using audiobooks in my classroom I have never had a parent complain. In addition, I am constantly surprised by how intently students want to listen to someone reading them a book. Students get so engaged in the book and in their artwork that they will even ask their friends to turn their whisper voices down so they can completely focus on the story. As a teacher I am totally fine with my students talking during class. I offer one of the only hours of the day when they are able to freely chat with their friends. But occasionally, it is great to have the students focus intently on their artwork while enjoying a book. The use of audiobooks has made that a possibility in my classroom.
What are your experiences with audiobooks in your classroom?
Do you have any favorites you would recommend?