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Using AudioBoom in the Classroom to Improve Reading Fluency

My 2nd grade students have been working very hard all year long on learning what fluency is and what good fluency should sound like. At the beginning of the year, my students thought that fast reading was fluent reading, but what I was hoping was to inspire my students to think beyond this. Fast reading does not equal fluent reading. If students read 140 words per minute but use no expression and sound like robots, they are not reading fluently. So, we started using AudioBoom.

Why AudioBoom?

In my search for a tool to record my students read, I turned to several different recording apps that were just too cumbersome or complicated for my seven and eight year old students to manipulate. Finally, I found AudioBoom while scrolling through my Instagram feed one morning during breakfast. AudioBoom easily allows literally anyone the oppourtunity to record and share sound files.

After using AudioBoom and analyzing some of the recordings as a class this year, we now know that fluent readers do the following:

  • Don't read so fast that the listener can't understand what they are reading.
  • Don't read s l o w l y, or word-by-word like a robot.
  • Read with expression.
  • Read with a voice that sometimes goes up and sometimes goes down.
  • Read groups of words together to sound like talking.
  • Read smoothly.
  • Think about the book they are reading, so they can understand the text.
  • Make the book fun to listen to!
  • Read the book more than one time.

Our goal is to re-record these books again in a few months and compare our recordings. With all that being said, we all agree that no reader is perfect, and no recording will be perfect! I would bet these recordings will be even more fluent the second time around. We understand that practice makes for better fluency. In fact, I have already had students ask to rerecord. After listening to her recording, one girl said she needed to rerecord her book because, “I didn’t pay attention to the punctuation marks and I sounded like a robot.”

Educators, you might be wondering more about how we use the AudioBoom app in our classroom, and here is a brief tutorial on that.

Using the App to Make Recordings

You will need the AudioBoom app. I have my kids choose a book from my “Read Aloud” bucket that they think they can read fluently, and they read it out loud at least one time before recording it on the iPad.

When I hand them the iPad, the screen looks like this (see below). Students push record and read the title and author of the book. Then, they begin reading. The "record" button turns into "pause", and you can give students the option to pause after every page, or read the entire book at one time. Please note: the app limits recordings to 10 minutes.

When students have finished recording, they bring me the iPad. I publish the recording and name it the title of the book by whichever student read the book. That way, when you print the recording later, the QR code will say the title of the book and the name of the student who is reading it.

After you publish the recording, go to "My Account" by clicking the hamburger icon (three lines in the top left corner). Once you click "My Account", go to "My Posts", and this is where the recordings will be. (A recording takes about a minute before it becomes a post.) Find the post you want to share and click it. Your screen should now look like this:

Click the share button (the square with the arrow shooting out of it), and this will give you several options to share this post.

Creating QR Codes of Students’ Book Recordings

What works for me and my students is making each post into a QR code to tape right to the back of the books, so students can access it later and friends can listen to them read. To do this, click "Open in Safari". (Teachers: the default setting on this app shows the location of the recording. Make sure you turn this off on each recording when you publish it. I found this setting by clicking "Edit" while I have it open in Safari. Or, simply deny the app access to location services.) Then, scroll down to where it says "More" and "QR Code”; print the code and tape it to the book, and you’re done!

Here is what a book looks like in our room that has the QR code taped to it. As you can see, this book has already had two students record themselves reading from it. That's okay! These readers might read the book in different ways, and it is good for students to hear different readers read the book, with all of the varying nuances we each have.

Using the Recordings During Reading Time

And from that point, the rest is super easy!

During Daily 5, my students grab an iPad during Listen to Reading and the book they want to listen to. Students use the QR Reader app and scan the code; then, they follow along in the book and listen to their friends read.

To say this daily activity is a favorite would be a gross understatement. My students love Listen to Reading! Can you say “engaged”?

Here is just one of the many links to all of the books that my students have recorded so far. Every student will record multiple books--we are just getting started!

I hope you are feeling energized and ready to take on the huge task of teaching students how to read fluently. I think often students think they are reading fluently, until they actually hear themselves. We know that students need to read fluently in order to fully comprehend the books they read. If students need to stop frequently to decode words, comprehension is lost. In January, my students will each choose one book to re-record and we will compare and contrast the recordings. I cannot wait to see the results.

Welcome to reading in the 21st century!

NOTE: This article is part of EdSurge's Fifty States Initiative (representing the state of North Dakota). 

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