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Ready for Takeoff: Listening for Literacy

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We know teens and tweens can be tough crowds to please. This week, we'll hear about one California junior high school and how their teacher librarian not only got her students interested in audiobooks, but might have sparked a new audio love. 

Amy Woods is a teacher librarian at La Colina Junior High in sunny California. She tells us that La Colina teachers emphasize the importance of language input on fluency and encourage students to use Tales2go to meet their independent reading goals. Students use Tales2go in their English classes, but they also use their subscription in their World Language classes. English students are required to read at least two hours each week. They log the minutes they spend reading each week, as well as their finished books. Students can include audiobooks on their lists of finished books.

One Step at a Time

At the beginning of this year, I went to all of our English classes and taught students how to log into their accounts. 

I began my lesson by asking students how many of them already listen to audiobooks. Then I called on students with their hands up to share what they like about listening to books. 

Tea, headphones, phone

Because so many students in each of the classes I visited had never heard an audiobook, I played a 3 or 4 minute excerpt of a book and asked students what they noticed. This got them interested because we talked about how audiobooks can help bring characters to life. After all, these are paid actors who know how to express emotion and engage an audience in a story. 

The next step was to get students logged in and show them how to browse and search for books. At first, students were searching for individual titles and were disappointed when the book they wanted wasn’t on Tales2go. I used the analogy of the classroom bookshelf and asked students if every book that they would ever want to read was on their teacher’s classroom bookshelf. In unison, the students replied, “no.”

More: Our teen intern tells us what he really thinks about audiobooks

Then I asked the students if their teacher had lots of good books on her shelf, and of course the reply was yes! I told the students that they need to approach finding books on Tales2go in the same way. The best way to find good books is to browse with an open mind to finding something new. The last part of the lesson was for students to favorite at least 3 books that they would like to read. Students then shared some of the books that were on their favorite list with the rest of class. This way we were able to create a next reads list with Tales2go. 

Sharing is Caring

In addition to my lesson in English classes, I also visited our World Language PLCs to share this resource with our French and Spanish teachers. Teachers spent a few minutes browsing for books that they could share with their classes. 

Lastly, spreading the word about this resource is absolutely key. I shared staff login information via our staff update. Our principal sent out the Tales2go letter to parents in her update. And I’ve presented the resource to our English Language Advisory Committee (ELAC). If your community doesn’t know about a resource, it won’t get used.

Looking Ahead

At our school, we want to build a culture of reading. Yes, it’s important for academic success, but it is also fun. Tales2go helps bring some fun, especially to our reluctant readers. Having the option to listen in addition to reading is a great way to get students hooked on stories.

Make this resource visible. Spread the word to your community  and keep spreading the word. Currently my library assistant and I are in the process of adding a note to our library catalog so students can search for books using Tales2go as a keyword. We got this idea from Sherri Bryan, another Tales2go user in our district. We still need to add the Tales2go stickers to the print copies of our books. I also plan to do a display of Tales2go books before students leave for winter break to encourage students to keep listening while they are on break. It’s a great way to pass time while they travel. 

**This post was updated on April 22, 2020, to reflect a revised offer to continue supporting schools. 

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