One of the goals of SCIENCE 21 (www.pnwboces.org/science21), the elementary science program I direct, is to provide teachers with a plethora of resources to utilize with their students. Recently, a number of teachers have inquired about creating audiobook versions of the “readers” we have previously created (see below for an example).
We’ve already made the readers available online by saving the pages as Publisher files, and then converting them to .pdf files (here’s one as an example: http://pnwboces.org/science21/Readers/GKU3Newts.pdf). In this way, teachers can use the hard copy versions of our readers as group read-alouds and have the .pdf files up on interactive whiteboards or separate computer terminals for students to read together in groups and/or explore individually.
When I was asked to put together an audiobook, I wanted to make sure that I was able to utilize the files we had already created and would be able to format the audiobooks in such a way that every classroom could view and listen to them.
So, I decided to design .ppt files with built in audio on each slide. The creation was simple but time-consuming. I migrated the images and text from Publisher, resized them to fit the slightly modified .ppt slide area and then began the process of generating audio (see below for a screenshot of one of the .ppt slides).
We have a recording studio on campus and I utilized Adobe Audition (a very user-friendly product, by the way) in the studio to record me reading each of the pages. I created two versions, a standard one where I simply read the pages, and an extended version where I supplied a number of critical thinking questions as well. I saved the files as .mp3 extensions to reduce the file size, and then embedded them in the .ppt. To make the audiobook easier to use, I set the audio to play on each slide shift, and moved the audio “button” out of the visible field of the slide, so it would be less likely to be deleted or moved.
We then placed both versions up on the web for teachers to review. We also created a short survey about the books to get a sense of whether teachers felt they were more likely to use the standard or extended versions. So far, feedback has been extremely positive and I’m excited to be able to offer additional curricular resources to our users!
Want to check out the audiobooks for yourself? Visit http://pnwboces.org/science21/Teacher_Resources.html and then click on “SCIENCE 21 Readers and Audiobooks.” Listen to the two samples provided for the “What’s in the Box?” book, and let me know what you think!