Sunday, October 10, 2010

Active Listening?

Listening centers have been around for a long time, probably as long as we have been able to record sound. I remember sitting on the floor in my kindergarten class listening to music from Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite" while watching the phonograph needle dance lightly over the top of the spinning record. That was nearly fifty years ago. We have many more options now, yes?
This morning I had a dream. It may have been spurred by a conversation I had this week with a teacher who is converting his classroom books on CD's to mp3's. In the dream I was a student in a class where the instructor asked us to share a wish we had for our school. In my dream I thought about it a bit and then told of a new feature I would like to add to our library. It would be a listening center where kids could come in and “check out” audio resources (stories, songs, podcasts, the possibilities here seem endless) and instead of sitting of the floor or at tables in chairs, they would have a variety of exercise equipment choices. These could include exercise balls, yoga mats, stationary bicycles or even treadmills. I am not so sure about the bikes and treadmills. Can we have kids use them? Is there an age requirement? But you get the idea; kids need to wiggle and stretch even if it’s just a little bit, so why can’t we combine activity and listening in a way that will make both more fun and productive?

 Gregory Rec/Maine Sunday Telegram Staff Photographer: Third graders sit on fitness balls at their desks at Peaks Island Elementary School on Wednesday, January 27, 2010.

Right now in our school a couple classes are using exercise balls, although not to the extent that this classroom is. Our students and teachers using them and those interviewed for this article published February 26, 2010, in the Maine Sunday Telegram seem to like them and feel they are beneficial. Is anyone using them in libraries or listening centers? What do you think? Is it doable?


  1. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Giving students something slightly different might be the key to engaging them.

    In my room, I have a back room that isn't really mine. It is science storage and storage for an evening aerobics class. The class uses those giant balls and during the day they just sit there.

    I'm considering asking if I can pull them out and see if they work in the classroom.

    Also, a little tiny different thing: I have an XO laptop from OLPC. I pulled it for Fun Friday and it completely hooked in one young lady. It isn't nearly as powerful as the MacBooks but it was a great hook for that one student.

    Okay, let's mix up the classrooms a bit, knock tradition on it's butt and start changing education.

  2. This is definitely doable! We have iPod shuffles that students can load up with digital content by visiting the virtual library. I love your idea of combining the listening activity with physical movement/exercise.