Over the years our family has purchased various iPod models, and we tend to pass them down by age. Currently, this means my six year old daughter is the proud owner of a 2 GB second generation iPod Nano purchased in 2006. That was payment for her sister’s work (who was then about to enter kindergarten) in helping me lead a multi-day workshop about podcasting with Garageband for teachers in College Station, Texas. Although Rachel is VERY cognizant of her iPod’s limitations (it won’t play videos) she is also VERY proud of it and loves to use it. Being in a family of readers who not only read paper books and eBooks, but also listen to AudioBooks, Rachel has naturally decided she wants to listen to AudioBooks as well – and she recently realized should COULD do that on her iPod Nano. Last night she announced her desire to buy some AudioBooks in advance of an upcoming car trip to visit family in Kansas, so we explored the iTunes Store together and discovered two suitable titles which caught her interest.
In addition to learning about how to purchase AudioBooks online, this experience also provided a great opportunity to contextually explore concepts of simple division. I wrote a bit about that in a blog post on our family learning blog. Rachel was VERY excited to learn that THIRD graders usually learn about simple division (according to her sister) but she’s JUST getting ready for FIRST grade. It’s never too early to discuss how important and useful math skills can be, especially in practical contexts!
Rachel was very interested to learn how we were going to buy these books online. She gave me half the money for her purchase ($6.50) from her own savings, and then drove the mouse as we used my iTunes account to purchase the books. She was SO excited to watch the progress bar advance as each book was downloaded to our computer!
After downloading both books, on her iPod in iTunes Rachel chose to synchronize the two AudioBooks she’d purchased.
Of course, she immediately wanted to go to her room and start listening to these AudioBooks! How thrilled she was that this worked, and she now has her OWN AudioBooks on her iPod!
It is great to see how much confidence and fluency my own children continue to develop as the result of frequent practice activities like this – talking about what they have learned in different real-world, meaningful contexts. Rachel and I listened to her recording afterwards, and she commented on how she says “uh” a lot. Of course I pointed out she does a WONDERFUL job explaining her ideas clearly, and how proud I am of her – But that she can continue to work on not saying “uh” as much when she makes podcasts. (I definitely continue to work on this too!) This conversation shows how valuable self-recording can be, and the process of listening to ourselves talk. Rachel has greater self-awareness about her own voice and speaking skills as a result of these activities tonight.
I commented this afternoon to my wife I think one effect of the standards movement in education in our country has been to intimidate some parents (and perhaps even some teachers) when it comes to helping young people develop their literacy skills. I am not saying this to diminish the importance of formal education and training when it comes to literacy development – by all means, I think those programs can be VERY valuable. I do think, however, that a great deal of literacy development is NOT rocket science. We need to read a lot. We need to be read TO a lot. We need to engage in the activities and behaviors of literate people FREQUENTLY: Listening to others, asking good questions, being asked good questions, discussing our thoughts, and writing about our ideas. Audio recording platforms like iPadio provide an ideal tool to document and share these types of learning situations.
I realize our opportunities to use audio recording technologies like iPadio as a family are different in many ways from the constraints under which classroom teachers work every day. I firmly believe, however, we need to be using technology tools like this to document our thinking and share our learning MUCH MORE than we are today. It’s not only valuable to share what we are thinking and learning with others, it’s also insightful as well as powerful to LISTEN to ourselves (as Rachel did tonight) discuss our learning.
Literacy isn’t rocket science. It also can be extremely FUN to develop together!
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