Using SoundCloud for Read Alouds
As a special education teacher, I do a lot of read alouds for assessments. Despite my best efforts to accommodate all students, it’s always a challenge to pace the assessment at a rate all students are happy with. If I don’t leave enough wait time between questions, I’m going too fast, but if I leave too much, I’m going to slow. When this happens, my frustrated students tune me out and work at their own pace, sans read aloud. This is a problem.
Another problem is middle school, the time in most students’ lives when they first discover they want nothing more than to blend in, and having to leave their regular classroom to have a test read to them is the academic equivalent of showing up to the 8th grade dance with chicken pox. Most students see their read aloud accommodation as an embarrassment, that they “can’t read.” I’ve had students tell me, “Look Mr. Kayser, I can read,” and then rattle off a paragraph as proof they don’t need the accommodation. Explaining the why behind their accommodation often isn’t enough and they’ve been told one too many times that “it’s for your own good.” Most kids don’t want to hear that. They just want to take their test with everyone else, even if means missing some questions due to reading issues.
Enter SoundCloud. In no way is this an end-all, be-all solution. SoundCloud won’t have kids circling the test date on their calendar with a huge smiley face, but it will:
- allow students to work at their own pace
- allow students to rewind when they need to (instead of raising their hand and asking for a question to be reread)
- allow all students with the read aloud accommodation to decide how they use their accommodation
- allow students to evaluate the necessity of their read aloud accommodation
SoundCloud makes it ridiculously easy to post sound files. Here’s how I do it:
- Sign up for account on SoundCloud (free account)
- Get a copy of the test a day in advance
- Read the test into a) SoundCloud’s iPod app, b) Garage Band or Audacity, or AudioBoo. If you choose b or c, make sure you upload the mp3 to your SoundCloud account. When reading, make sure you leave a pause between questions so students can pause the recording, answer the question, and start the reading again without having to constantly rewind and scan the audio file for the appropriate question.
- Post the link to your SoundCloud account so students can access (click on track in SoundCloud, make sure setting is “public,” and share url of track.
- Make sure students have headphones the day of test
Some students have told me they prefer me reading it to them in person than listening to my recording, so I read it to them. The majority of students have told me they prefer the SoundCloud and headphones method.