We Go Together: A Conversation About Pairing

Amidst all the other listening activities and ideas, pairing audiobooks with print books is a teaching technique we don't get to talk about much, here on the blog. However, as we'll hear from Derek Deremer, pairing is not only a legitimate method of supporting students, it can be just the thing to engage your reluctant readers! Derek is an ELA teacher supporting 8th graders in South Carolina and he agreed to share how he is using audiobooks with his students.

reading and listening

T2g: How are you using audiobooks in your every day classroom routine?

DD: We are largely using it as a remediation and audio support tool for struggling and reluctant readers. A few years ago, I began having students listen to audiobooks while reading their respective books. Through my own anecdotal research of adults and students, it seemed most people who are struggling or reluctant readers were not read to when they were younger. I hypothesize (and maybe this has been proven) that there is some inner desire to have someone read a book to us, and in a growing age of technology, it's being prioritized less and less by parents. Therefore, when a human voice reads written words to us, there's something innately captivating about the intimate process. It has worked time and time again over the years and that's my only conclusion: kids love being read to, even into their early teenage years. It's what's caused roughly ten of my kids this year to claim that "this was the first book they actually read." And considering I watched them go through it 10-15 minutes a day, I could verify that their eyes in fact followed along, and they did read it. It helps them focus their attention on the words, and it makes it nearly impossible to do 'fake reading'- something that any teacher could tell you about.

AynorT2g: How did you get your students interested in listening to stories initially?

DD: At the start of the year, I went through your catalog and selected about ten books that I knew were popular with students in the past. I wanted to make sure they were happy with their first read, as I figured that would be essential for buy-in. At open house, I had many parents essentially laugh at the notion that their child would read, and students needed to get hooked.

Prisoner B-3087, Famous Last Words, Hunger Games, If You're Reading This, Loot: How to Steal a Fortune, I Survived 9/11 (for my struggling readers), Refugee, and Adrift were novels that we were lucky to have several copies of each. A few years back, I suggested that the library purchase paperback books (which are significantly cheaper) and wrap them with that clear book cover material; therefore, they were able to get many copies without a high cost. They continue to do that now, and it helps us justify to have many copies of a single book.
T2g: How do you keep your students engaged in listening regularly?
DD: They read for about 10-15 minutes at the start of my inclusion class. When they finish, they answer a quick prompt (1. Summarize what you read. 2. Predict what will happen next. 3. Did anything remind you of something in your own life? etc.). In addition, they keep track of their page number and the audiobook timer to be a backup in case of any technical difficulties. While they read, I meet with each student one day a week where I review their prompt answers and talk about what's going on in their texts. To help with this, I've been using Tales2go to read their books when I drive, do housework, or whatnot. This has helped me to have more intelligent conversations with them and really make sure they understand what they are reading.
T2g: That's a fantastic idea to listen to the books they're reading, so you can engage them better! Do you have any special incentives for students to help them encourage each other to listen?
At the back of the room, I have laminated images of bookshelves for each student where they keep track of the book they are reading and a record of the ones they've read. I've found it has created a bit of enthusiasm as some are quickly gathering stacks of books.
In my accelerated class, they had to read The Time Machine and War of the Worlds on their own, and many turned to that as it is a higher Lexile text. I didn't do anything special with them, but many said it made their reading of it much easier. So again, as a support - it works well. 

T2g: What else are your students listening to on Tales2go?

DD: We were lucky that some of our prior Battle of the Books selections were in your catalog, so we have a dozen copies of big favorites I mentioned, like Famous Last WordsIf You're Reading ThisPrisoner-B3087, and Adrift, among many others. Students seek out books that they know are on the program and our library has made a specific catalog on Destiny featuring all the books in our library on it. 

T2g: Derek, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us! Anything else you'd like to add?

DD: I believe this has a lot to offer and I've witnessed the benefits first hand.

More: Let your students choose their own adventures!

Supporting neurodivergent students and community members is similar to providing resources for neurotypical students. We still create a safe and welcoming environment and consider each person's…

Photo credit: Paje Victoria

Investigative journalists take deep dives into a specific event or topic. Often, these long term projects become significant reports or books. Journalists spend months and years researching and…

Subscribe to our blog