What it is: Some websites are so impressive that I immediately spam all teachers in my address book with them. Speakaboos is one of these sites for me. I learned about the site from the Free Technology for Teachers blog (I highly recommend it for middle and high school teachers). Speakaboos is a collection of online children stories read by celebrities (although this is not what impresses me). Each story is read aloud with flash illustrations and the words on each page for read-along. The stories are captivating and include popular titles like Arthur and Curious George. This highly engaging website has some other features that make this one of my favorite website finds of the year. When you sign up for a free membership, Speakaboos offers a free story download. The download is a swf (flash) file but can be converted with a site like Zamzar to make it iPod ready (aka mobile learning!). They plan to add more free downloads throughout the year. Parents can also purchase individual stories iTunes style for $0.99. Speakaboos has a feature coming for parents, students, grandparents, teachers, etc. to record their own stories! Speakaboos offers several activities for students including a diary to write in, a place to create their own story, games, ecards, and printable coloring pages from their favorite stories. Speakaboos is in beta version right now so some of the above features are not yet active.
How to integrate Speakaboos into the classroom: Speakaboos stories and activities are a fun and engaging way to develop students reading, writing, and speaking abilities while learning basic computer skills. The Record your own Story feature is a wonderful way for students to practice fluency, it is also a great feature for struggling readers who can listen for mistakes that they make during reading. Older students could make recordings for their younger reading buddies to enjoy. The ability to download select stories for free is amazing for an iPod reading lab. Speakaboos is a great reading or writing center for students to visit in the one or two computer classroom. It would also make a nice whole class read along using a projector. Speakaboos offers free story guides for teachers to help lead discussions on each story. The guides come complete with themes to help reinforce the story message and offer questions to check general comprehension, discussion, and personal extension. There are also printables that you can use with your class in conjunction with the Speakaboos site.
Tips: Membership on Speakaboos is free and provides access to the free downloads.
Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Speakaboos in your classroom.