For some of us, reading and relaxing go hand in hand. However, for many of my students, reading induces fear, anxiety, and frustration. Even worse, every subject requires reading: from instructions on math homework to a chapter about volcanoes in a science textbook. How can we expect students to succeed when they are constantly frustrated and nervous about having to read in class?
My students have been diagnosed with a range of emotional disturbances and disabilities, but their eagerness to learn and excitement about new topics never ceases.
While my students have a variety of interests, they often do not get the opportunity to hang out in libraries or browse the internet for articles about current events. My students are often working jobs to provide for their families and face unsafe or constantly changing living conditions. Coming from some of the poorest neighborhoods in New York, my students qualify for free breakfast and lunch programs and often cannot afford the materials they need for school.
"Turn the music down!" "But I need it to focus! I'm doing my work!" Arguments like these ensue in my classroom daily. One person's study music is another person's dance party. While many of my students use music to concentrate on individual work, our school doesn't provide students with headphones. Thus, four or five students sometimes try to play different songs aloud during class. It just doesn't work. Similarly, planning to show news clips or modern interpretations of Shakespeare in class is difficult when there's only one set of speakers for all the teachers in school to share.
Having a classroom speaker and headphones for each student will allow my students to engage in music, videos, and more in meaningful ways.
No longer will students yell over each other to turn the music down. Students who need books or stories read aloud will be able to utilize these functions on websites such as CommonLit. I will be able to individualize their education further by assigning videos to certain students during class or providing students with access to a more private listening experience to avoid embarrassment, frustration, or tension with other classmates. Giving my students more control over their education is crucial as they enter high school. Plus, our classroom community will be improved by better listening experiences.
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