Sharing a wonderful read-aloud has always been one of my favorite teaching activities. Not only does it introduce the class to a great book, it also allows me to connect my students together in a shared experience. We can tie the theme of the book into other curricular areas during the course of our school day, but most importantly, it is a reading experience that children enjoy and one that helps with learning to read.
However, there are many times when a student is absent or out of the classroom and misses a portion of the story. In some situations there are students, who for whatever reason, miss the classroom read-aloud on a daily basis. This means some children miss out on more than just a good book – they miss out on the fullness of our classroom relationships.
Recently I worked with a second grade teacher to try to solve this problem in her classroom. Her thought was that if she could record herself reading the book each day, students would be able to listen to the story read aloud through a classroom iPad. Sounds easy, right? But her hope was that the students would be able to listen to the story on ANY classroom iPad and almost immediately after she read it. She also wanted this to be easy and seamless: not requiring uploads. In fact, wouldn’t it be wonderful if it would even work when a sub was taking her place for the day?
After considering all of the recording apps I could find there seemed to be an issue with every one. One of the biggest issues when reading a chapter book aloud turned out to be space on the iPad itself. A typical chapter book may take hours to read – and that may take many GB on your device.
I ended up using an iPad app called eXtra Voice Recorder. Although not free, this app has the benefit of saving automatically to Dropbox. This was the piece that solved the rest of our issues. Since it saves automatically, all the teacher has to do is record daily and feel confident that the recording has been uploaded into Dropbox. Each day she reads the story as normal, including her introduction or review of prior chapters, and then titles the segment with the section of the book she read (sometimes using “part 1”, “part 2” and so on. She moves these files in a folder titled with the book title.
On the other end we downloaded Dropbox to the classroom iPads and logged them in to an account we created that was just for storing these stories. Since we have email addresses that pair with our grade level Apple IDs it was easy to make an account in Dropbox with a school account. The app stays logged into this account even when the app is closed, so keeping the contents available to students is easy.
Now the students click in Dropbox, click on the book title folder, select the section of the book and press the play button. It is available on every iPad with Dropbox – and the teacher could even share the recordings with children who are unable to come to school or students who want to hear the story a second time, by sharing the Dropbox link.
This solution has added a new dimension to our classroom read-alouds! No longer are there students who missed the story the day before. They now get to join in and share the experience!
I highly recommend the eXtra Voice Recorder for your voice recording needs. It is an excellent option – especially with the ease of connecting to Dropbox. Give it a try today – or let me know if I can help you!