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Making the Link between Audiobooks and the Common Core State Standards

Sharon Grover and Lizette Hannegan highlight how audio books support Common Core State Standards.
article-imgFor many years, educational leaders have been making the link between listening to audiobooks and developing enhanced literacy skills such as fluency, comprehension, and increased vocabulary. Astute teachers and librarians have been integrating audiobooks into their lesson plans to help engage struggling readers, level the playing field for English Language Learners, and slow down those voracious readers who just don’t take the time needed to read slowly enough for thorough comprehension.

With the advent of the Common Core State Standards, teachers, librarians, and parents are wondering if audiobooks can be seamlessly incorporated into lesson plans with these new standards. The answer is an emphatic yes!

The website dedicated to the Common Core State Standards yields a wealth of information on the background of their creation and the educational goals they promote:

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.

These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have during their K-12 education so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs.

The standards:

  • Are aligned with college and work expectations;
  • Are clear, understandable and consistent;
  • Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
  • Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
  • Are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
  • Are evidence-based.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is that:

The Standards set requirements not only for English language arts (ELA) but also for literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Just as students must learn to read, write, speak, listen, and use language effectively in a variety of content areas, so too must the Standards specify the literacy skills and understandings required for college and career readiness in multiple disciplines. Literacy standards for grade 6 and above are predicated on teachers of ELA, history/social studies, science, and technical subjects using their content area expertise to help students meet the particular challenges of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language in their respective fields. It is important to note that the 6–12 literacy standards in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects are not meant to replace content standards in those areas but rather to supplement them. States may incorporate these standards into their standards for those subjects or adopt them as content area literacy standards.

This passage points out two important aspects of the CCSS:

  1. Students must meet standards not only for reading and writing, but also for speaking, listening, and language. This means the Standards address specific skills that we know are improved by listening to audiobooks.
  2. The CCSS do not replace subject content standards. Students must still learn history, social studies, science, and technology. Therefore, teachers, librarians, and parents can continue offering students high quality audiobooks to supplement their reading in these content areas. Reading with your ears is just as valid with the Common Core State Standards as it was before these standards were introduced.

Listening Library has put together helpful resources that offer suggestions across a wide range of Common Core and content standards, making it easy to select excellent audiobooks that support learning in a variety of grade levels. You’ll discover outstanding fiction and informational titles supporting many areas of interest, including titles that have been cited as text exemplars for the CCSS. These resources are available through Listening Library and at public and school libraries in a range of formats, making them accessible to teachers, students, and families, providing many hours of enjoyment while students listen to learn.

The shared experience of listening to literature promotes discussion and critical thinking skills and that is really what the Common Core State Standards are all about. Happy listening!

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