A Whisper Phone is an auditory device used to help children practice reading skills. Teachers can make these phones with inexpensive materials or purchase them. Construct simple phones at home using various lengths of PVC pipe. The pipe funnels the child's voice directly into his ear eliminating outside distractions. Use the phones in key exercises that enable students to hear their own voices when reading in a quiet voice. This device improves attention and helps students focus on the task.
Phonemic awareness is an awareness of individual sounds in language and is an important pre-reading skill. The use of a whisper phone enables a child to intentionally listen and hear sounds coming directly from his own voice. This direct focus helps him develop phonemic awareness. Directly hearing the sounds improves the ability to recognize and distinguish the sound structure of language. Use phones for phonemic awareness activities such as blending, identifying and manipulating sounds.
Fluency is the ability to read text with speed and accuracy. Students use whisper phones to read independent text that is patterned and predictable to help build fluency. Students should read a familiar reading section repeatedly to enhance fluency skills. Use the whisper phone to improve sentence fluency in writing assignments. When students read their own writing into the phone, they can hear how their own compositions sound.
Guiding reading involves the teacher reading with the student to provide support prior to independent reading. Use guided reading with individual students or in small groups on the same reading level. The teacher and the students read from the same text. Each child has his own copy of the text and follows along. The teacher models the reading before instructing the students to read independently. Each student reads quietly into his whisper phone as the teacher observes and monitors. As she listens to the quiet reading, she provides instant correction and feedback as a facilitator in the reading process.
Daily reading practice helps build essential reading skills for those students with more advanced reading ability. Practicing correct reading helps students toward better reading proficiency. Reading into a whisper phone helps them focus more on what they are reading. Some fluent readers have a difficult time reading silently. Whisper phones allow these students to read softly without disturbing those around them.
Students preparing for a play or presentation benefit from using a phone for practicing their lines. When they hear themselves speaking, they are motivated to improve their expression and tone. Practice reading into the phone encourages reading passages with more expression and passion.