1st Graders Create Their Own Read-Along Audiobook

Last year, while our first grade teacher was absent for an extended period of time, I spend a few sessions with them to read a book from the Magic Tree House series, Vacation under the Volcano, and then pulled  students out in small groups to record them. You can read about the process and my reflection on this post “Podcasting with First Grade“.

This year, the first grade teacher took over reading and writing the script in the classroom. She was one step ahead of me in reading and scripting each chapter, as I took three students (Interviewer’s, Jack’s & Annie’s voice) at the time out of the classroom to record them.

Recording the Script

As I was pulling the students out to record, the classroom teacher continued reading, chapter by chapter, and creating the interview script to be recorded with the students. By the time the last chapter was recorded, I had ten written scripts collected. I decided to create a little booklet (created from a MS Word Template) for the first graders, so they would be able to follow along as they were listening to the podcast.

Booklet created with MS Word Template

The audio file is about 15 minutes long. As the class listened to the podcast for the first time in it’s entirety, they had their little fingers on the paper to follow along. Each chapter ending was followed with a special sound to indicate that a new chapter was about to start. This helped any student who had lost their place on the script.

Read-Along

Read- Along

Once we had finished listening to the podcast, I asked their teacher give them a few minutes to write down a couple of sentences about their experience.

My thoughts:

  • It amazes me every time. Students are so engaged, wanting to re-record, if their voice, didn’t sound “just” right.
  • Students (6-7 year olds)  are very interested in the mechanics of Garageband (ex. tracks, dead air, sound clips, moving clips, etc).
  • Students started to experiment with their voices: inflection, fluency, pitches, emotions, volume, speed…
  • The written script as an add-on to the audio file was a bonus. Students are eager to “read-along” as they were listening to their podcast. I want to look for an iPad/iPhone app to streamline the process. Does anyone know of an app that would allow me to import a recorded mp3 file (I want to be able to continue using Garagband to record and edit them) and then ” attach” the word doc or a pdf file to that audio file for kids to scroll through at their own pace, as they are playing and pausing the audio file.

Next Step:

  • upload the podcast to their classroom website to be played within the blog.
  • upload the podcast to our school’s iTunes Podcast channel.
  • Send information (how-to-guide) via blog, email or paper print-out to parents to help them subscribe and download podcast episode from iTunes to their devices.
  • Work with librarian to establish a book review, storytelling, etc. audio file library accessible in physical and virtual library space to all students.

Reflection:

  • I really like to expand the reflection piece as part of the podcasting process.
  • In the future I want to involve students by giving them ownership and time to “play” on their own in Garageband to record and edit their voices.
  • Assessment: I need to find a way to formally assess the impact podcasting (including script writing and voice recording) has on writing, reading, fluency, comprehension and presentation skills.
  • We need to do this earlier in the year to be able to connect our students with other podcasting children around the world. Take a look at my blog post from last year when I asked: A Worldwide Audience for Six Year Olds?

Listen to these first graders make “Dinosaurs Before Dark” come alive with their voices.

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If you have a first grade class or your own child is ready and interested in reading chapter books, download the mp3 file and the pdf file of the script, upload them to your iPod, iTouch, iPhone or iPad (or other device). Now you should be able to listen to the audio as you read along.

Dinosaurs Before Dark Script

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Postscript: I could not stop thinking about the script and the audio file. Thanks to Leigh Murrell on Twitter, I checked into epub, a format that can be imported into iBooks on my iPad/iPhone.

Since I don’t have Pages on my macbook, I used a script file I had created in Word.

Creating Document in Word

I then converted the .docx file to an .epub file by using 2EPUB, a free online converter.

Free ePub converter

Once converted, I plugged my iPad in and dropped the .epub file from my finder directly into the iTunes>Books folder. I then added an artwork as a cover. Once I synched my iPad, I could find the dinosaur “booklet” on my bookshelf.

Import into iBooks

Even the dictionary part works, as you hold one finger down on a word, the dictionary caption pops up with a definition.

Script opened in iBook

I also uploaded the mp3 file to iTunes and now have a Read-Along audio book with the iBook and iPod combination.