- Project Cost: $979.24
- Teacher Name: Gail Eubanks
- School: Parkview High School
- Grade Level: 9-12
Our students love Playaways, which are audiobooks in the form of a device that looks like an mp3 player. We have a small collection of Playaways, but our students are clamoring for more. Our functional skills students in particular have discovered this resource and are asking for more Playaways with titles which appeal to them. This grant would fund the purchase of 20 Playaways, selected with special education students in mind. These Playaways would become part of our circulating collection and be available for all students, faculty, and staff, but most particularly to struggling readers. Students who find the prospect of reading printed text overwhelming will be able to listen to and enjoy stories that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. Playaways have the extra advantage of portability–students can be walking, working, traveling, etc., and simultaneously listening to their Playaways. Playaways often feature narrators (sometimes the authors themselves) who bring the stories to life in a nearly magical way.
- Planned Use for Funds: Any funds from this grant would be used to purchase Playaway audiobooks, which would become part of our circulating collection and be available to all of our patrons with our functional skills and special education students receiving first choice.
- Need Represented: While all students enjoy Playaway audiobooks, our special education students in particular benefit from hearing text read out loud to them. They are able to revel in stories that they never would be able to read in their text versions. Having the Playaways requested in this grant would give them a selection of classic titles that would have appeal not only because they are wonderful stories, but also because they are presented in a format that struggling readers find accessible. We read stories to our functional skills students in the library each Friday morning and then they check out two items to keep for the week. It has been delightful to see the functional skills students discovering our Playaways and realizing that they can hear a story anytime they want. Our current Playaway collection (geared toward the majority of our students who read and listen to young adult titles) is inadequate for special education students. Having the requested Playaways would give our special education students more choice in audiobooks appropriate for them. Of course, all students will have access to our Playaways, but our functional skills students will have first priority.
PHS teacher Kim Duncan explained why Playaways are important to her students: “My functional skills students look forward to coming to the school library each week.They love the librarian reading a book to them, even at the high school level.They look forward to checking out the Playaway books. Many of my students struggle to read higher level books. Listening to Playaway books allows them to engage in conversation about books with “same as” peers (those not enrolled in special education classes). Engaging with “same as” peers” builds positive relationships between students and in return builds a positive school community.
- Academic Impact: The enormous impact of reading on student achievement has been well-documented and audiobooks like Playaways help increase reading proficiency and comprehension, while also developing many other skills. Students learn: to listen for important information; to improve vocabulary and pronunciation through hearing words repeated, used in context, and pronounced correctly; to become familiar with story and sentence structure as they listen; and to identify key literary concepts like setting, characterization, theme, plot, and conflict, in a natural and engaging way. Because students will have the freedom to choose from a number of high interest titles, they will be able to select stories that personally appeal to them.
- Student Population: Our student population numbers approximately 1,338 students from diverse racial and socioeconomic groups, with approximately 24% of our students representing minority groups and 63% being considered economically disadvantaged, qualifying for either free lunch or reduced lunch. Our mobility rate is over 60%. About 12% of our student population receives special services and 69 of our students speak English as a second language. These numbers do not take into account those students who are simply struggling readers and need the extra support of hearing a book being read out loud or those who simply enjoy the freedom and versatility that audiobooks provide. Our unique and diverse student population would benefit greatly from additional Playaway audiobooks.