Then he grunts, "I will call you by Whisper-ma-Phone"
for the secrets I tell you are for your ears alone
Down slupps the Whisper-ma-Phone to your ear
and the old Once-ler's whispers are not very clear,
since they have to come down
through a snergelly hose
and he sounds as if he had smallish bees up his nose
Last year, I ordered the WhisperPhone Select for my reading groups in the hopes to create more meaningful guided reading group activities. At times it can seem quite repetitive or boring to just take turns reading aloud over and over and over again. We have affectionately dubbed the WhisperPhone our "Whisper-ma-Phone" after the contraption the Once-ler uses in The Lorax. It does have seven hoses but they are not "snergelly" in the least and I certainly hope I do not sound as though I have "smallish bees up my nose" when I speak through the phone!
I use the Whisper-ma-Phone in two ways- Free Choice or Teacher's Choice. For 'Free Choice' I put out bins of leveled books at the children's appropriate reading level. Each child can choose his/her own book and read at his/her individual pace. Since I am "keyed" in to each child, I simply turn the center dial to face the child I would like to listen to. This creates a private two-way communication between that student and I. I can ask them questions, listen to their fluency, or whisper praises or encouragement in their little ears.
The second option is "Teacher's Choice" in which we all read one book together. There is an option on the Whisper-ma-Phone that allows everyone to conference in together. I typically do not use this option as it can get a little confusing with five or six children all listening to each other read at once! I still will conference in with each child individually as I do with the "Free Choice" option, but I also am holding the book to read along, so I can provide more direct guidance or help if necessary. I use this option more when we are increasing the difficulty levels of the texts so the students have more support.
The little readers love the Whisper-ma-Phone. The individual phone they hold to their ear allows them to hear themselves reading. It is excellent for fluency practice and they love, love, love to hear themselves read! The hoses also expand out quite far so the littles can spread out and choose their own spot. A lot of times they choose to sit in their cubbies and read from there while I sit at my horseshoe table and listen in.
The Whisper-ma-Phone has been a huge hit in my classroom. I try to use it at least once a month for some "down" time in reading. The most IMPORTANT part of the Whisper-ma-Phone....
CLEANING IT!!! I give each child a sani-wipe after we finish a session and tell them to scrub, scrub, scrub! :)
I also keep a few individual Whisper-ma-Phones in my Daily Five area for "Read to Self". I find these help to keep the little readers focused and less distracted by fellow "Read to Self"-ers in their area. Of course, the bean bag chairs don't hurt! I will do a more detailed post on how I run my D5 activities later on! :)