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The Virtues of the “Whisper Phone” for Independent Reading

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Mar 6, 2012 5:39:00 AM

struggling and emerging readers can benefit from the whisper phone!Happy Reading Month! Today we would like to take a look at the “whisper phone” as an important tool for early and struggling readers. If you haven’t seen one yet, you should check out the simple instructions below, for making your own.

What are They? Whisper phones are modeled after a telephone receiver, usually constructed out of simple piping materials, that help young students hear themselves read during independent reading. Students can speak quietly, and the whisper phones work by amplifying their voices and directing the sounds to their ears. They are able to use the phones to listen to themselves read without disturbing other students.

Why are “Whisper Phones” a Good Literacy Tool?

  1. The whisper phone supports the acquisition of phonemic awareness by allowing the student to hear her own voice while reading. Students are also able to focus on blending, proper sound use, and fluency in the text. 
  2. Whisper phones, by presence and function, help improve both the student’s focus and attention.  The voice funneling and the simple presence of an additional tool for reading will help redirect a distracted reader.
  3. Students are encouraged to whisper while reading, contributing to a reduction in classroom noise.  If a student speaks in a normal volume it will be incredibly loud since the phone works to funnel the sound.
  4. Students love these phones!  They offer variety in a normal independent reading session, and students often like to hear themselves read. They even help the shy “read aloud” reader gain confidence by becoming accustomed to hearing his or her own voice. The phones are successful for a variety of ability levels, and help to support emerging readers' sound blending and more advanced readers' fluency. 

Where Can You Purchase Them? There are many commercial vendors that sell “whisper phones” either online or in educational stores.  A quick Google search found hundreds of shopping search results in a variety of prices. The more affordable phones start at about two dollars per phone and more expensive designs−many of which are hands free− are approximately $10 dollars. Most vendors offer a discount if you buy in bulk.

How to Make Your Own “Whisper Phone!” 
Another virtue of the whisper phone design is that you are able to make the phones on your own fairly easily and for much less than a manufacturer would charge.  Since the basic design can be as simple as a PVC pipe tube, you can pick up the materials you need at your local home improvement store.   

For each phone you'll need a piece of straight PVC pipe and two elbows the same diameter. First, cut the straight pipe to the desired length (usually 3" to 5") and then position a 90-degree elbow on each end and push together.  You can also use PVC glue to permanently attach the elbows to the main pipe.  

To boost reading comprehension for your students this month, download our FREE K-6 Reading Comprehension Best Practices Guide! We know you’ll find a new tip or two to energize your instruction!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: download, struggling readers, National Reading Month, whisper phones

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