Benjamin Banneker Elementary School teacher Cary Knight was recently awarded a $140 grant from donorschoose.org to get new “whisper phones,” devices that allow students in her Response to Intervention classroom to clearly hear their own voices as they learn new words.
For a struggling reader, teachers say a student’s ability to hear their own voice can make all the difference. This is why Benjamin Banneker Elementary School teacher Cary Knight has taken the initiative to add a little fun to the learning process.
Knight was recently awarded a $140 grant from donorschoose.org to get new “whisper phones,” devices that allow students in her Response to Intervention classroom to clearly hear their own voices as they learn new words.
“It amplifies their own voice and lets them hear the sounds they’re saying versus some of the other sounds happening in the room,” Knight explained. However, since they can resemble toys to students, they aren’t used the whole time.
“You can’t use them the whole time because they can become a distraction, but it’s nice when you have a specific skill you’re working on so they can hear their own voice and block out other noises happening,” she said.
Knight, a reading specialist, was awarded 30 fluency phones through the website’s donation, upgrading them from previously used devices that were made from PVC pipe.
While the old phones did the trick, she said the new ones are clearer, allowing students to focus on the sounds they make as they learn to correctly pronounce sight words and use expression, tone and pausing during reading.
“A lot of the kids I work with struggle with phonetic skills,” Knight said. “The biggest thing is phonics and fluency. Kids might be missing gaps from when they’re younger, for whatever reason, and we’re trying to fill in those gaps so they can work to a core level in the classroom.”
Knight said the whisper phones help with those phonetic skills and fluency, which then allows students to take what they’ve learned about individual words and apply them to connected text for comprehension.
The students enjoy using them and Knight expects that through regular progress monitoring, she will be able to measure their effectiveness throughout the school year.
Benjamin Banneker Elementary School Principal Jean Wylie said she admires that Knight took the initiative to get funding for a tool that not only helps struggling readers but also makes learning fun for students.
“I think it was great for her as a teacher to take that initiative and see the need,” Wylie said. “By looking like a phone, [students] might not be so self-conscious, but then again, everyone will want to join in the learning. We always have to look at making learning fun.”
Knight hopes that by receiving a donation for this classroom project, that other teachers will take advantage of sources like donorschoose.org instead of spending their own money.
“I hope more teachers know about it now because it definitely works out in your favor when you get donations and get your project funded,” Knight said. “It’s a great resource for teachers.”