I started out with about 5 books and tapes that I got from Scholastic book orders. I had one big tape player with multiple headphone jacks, so I had to hunt down a couple more copies of the books so an entire group of students could listen to one story all together. I struggled with holding kids accountable and would have them fill out a response sheet, but they often didn’t have time to finish before they had to move on to their next center.
I then moved to a new school and taught kindergarten – there was no way my 32 kindergarteners could handle a listening center at the beginning of the year. I got a Donorschoose project for some Leap Pad interactive books and those were helpful for the next couple of years while my tapes collected dust.
I then moved back to first grade and wanted to bring out the tapes again. There were some old walkmans in storage at my school that had been used for the Read Naturally program. The great thing about walkmans is students can listen to the books individually, not with a partner. They are more on task and can choose books that interest them. The bad thing about walkmans is they eat up batteries. I got a new Donorschoose project together for rechargeable batteries and I was set!
The walkmans and rechargeable batteries have been kickin’ it for 4 years, now! But the problem is, the walkmans are starting to break, the tapes are starting to wear out, and I’m starting to get annoyed that kids bring me their walkman everyday and say, “It doesn’t work” and they only needed to turn around the tape! So, I decided to bring my listening center to the 21st century with iPod nanos!
Enter Donorschoose, once again. I have an old pink iPod nano, and two of my friends sent me their old nanos that they don’t want. That gives me 3 choices for kids. My reading groups have 5 or 6 kids, so I wrote another Donorschoose project for 2 more nanos. I figured that I might be able to find one more, or two kids can share with a headphone splitter.
Now, to get the books on tape to transfer to audio files for the computer. I knew it could be done, but I wasn’t sure how. Google to the rescue! I found that a free program for audio recording and editing, Audacity, could do it for me! I only needed to buy one, cheap cord: a 3.5 mm stereo cable.
Audacity has a great help wiki (looks like wikipedia!) and the detailed instructions were so easy to follow. You can find those here.
The plan is to upload 5 books on each iPod and change those out monthly. Each iPod is a different color, so kids will know which one they have used. If they get the pink one twice, they can just listen to another book, or *gasp* listen to a book again. I even hope to start recording students reading some books and having those audio files available. I can record them reading on my iPhone, or I have a mini microphone for my iPod touch.
And what to do with all those tapes?? Give them to the kids of course! I’ll keep the books, but let the kids take home a tape each. Maybe they can even win a walkman! I’m excited I won’t have as much to physically store with this new system.
To kick off my new listening center, I decided to make my reading center cards available on Teachers Pay Teachers! Click the photo below to go check them out!
Do you use a listening center? How do you display your center info for kids?
I’m linking up with Katie from Queen of the First Grade Jungle’s Technology Tuesday!