Posts Tagged ‘reading’

My class is currently reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I did a little poking around and found that there were quite a few different web-based study aids out there, many in the form of games. I don’t know that I would use these for hours on end in the classroom, but they may provide a great 10-minute brain break that will help students review what they have read in the book.

The List:


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Yes, you read correctly. Youtube is not just a place to watch mindless videos, though, no doubt, there are plenty of them there. The fact that Youtube can actually be repository for good educational content is hard for some to comprehend, but it is there!

Currently, my Juniors are reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Because it was written before copyright laws came into effect, I was sure that there would be a free audio book out there somewhere for my students to use as they read. There are plenty, but the best audio book I found was on Youtube. Honestly, I would have never thought that this would be the place to find a good audio version of a book.

Free Audio Books on Youtube has over 100 titles to choose from. Besides Huck Finn, these include:

  • Dracula
  • White Fang
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • Various Shakespeare Plays


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As I write this blog post, I am watching a 6th grade class Skype with the author of a book that they have recently read. This has to be one of the most powerful experiences for students in terms of giving them insight into the writing process and also instilling in them a love for reading. They are talking to the brains behind the story that they all enjoyed reading who is now telling them how the characters came  to life in his own mind.

This is not just a lecture on reading and writing, which students get in school all the time.

What is so cool about a Skype session with an author is that it is real. Students (and teachers alike) look at authors of books as mythical creatures, beings who are name on the front of a book and are never seen. Right now, the students are talking to this mythical being.

Just now, he showed them his system for writing which is a cork board that covers his entire wall with all of the characters for his current book. Below the characters are all of the different things the characters are doing in the story. He also showed the students his current manuscript with all of the handwritten edits that he does on one page. The page is totally trashed with grammar marks, an eye opener for students who think the teacher is just out to get them.

Students no longer have to read about the author on the dust cover of the book. With a little planning and a teacher who is daring to take a risk, students can meet the author.

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Face it, many students need a little extra help when it comes to reading, especially when reading the language found in older books. One effective strategy to help students better understand a text is to have them follow along in a book while listening to a recording. This gives them reading practice, but will also help them access the text, which is a big challenge for many students.

One of my go-to resources when looking for free recordings of books is the Librivox library. Currently, there are over 5,000 recordings on the Librivox library site with more being added all the time.  All recordings in the library are recorded and held in the public domain meaning that there are no restrictions on how they are used. Stories on the site can be downloaded and used at the total discretion of the user.

When using recordings, I always like to download them directly to the computer. This way, if there is an issue with the internet on the day I want to use them, I don’t have to worry. There is also now worry of having to wait for the recordings to buffer as they are streaming. This may not be a concern if working in a place with fast internet, for many schools, it is still the reality.

Here is a sampling of some of the audio books that can be found in the library:

Like I wrote earlier, this is just a few of the over 5,ooo recordings in the library. This is one of those sites to bookmark and check when the need arises.

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