Whisper phones are a unique tool for assisting your students in the classroom.
Students hold one end up to their ear and the other in front of their mouths. As they whisper into the phone, their voice will come out loud and clear at the other end. It eliminates distracting sounds, engages students and allows them to focus more on the task at hand.
Made from PVC pipe, they just require 3 parts; two 90 degree elbow ends and a ~9cm section of 20mm pipe. I like to decorate mine with contact paper.
No glue, sanding or hard work is required!
Let's look at 5 ways you can use whisper phones in your classroom:
Reading fluency is critical for students to develop once they have become proficient at decoding words. This means that students develop a natural rhythm, phrasing and intonation while reading with a low error rate. They read at a medium speed and may change their voice for different characters. The best way to develop reading fluency (once the basics of decoding and sufficient modelling have been done) is continued practice.
The whisper phones allow groups of students (or even your whole class) to practice reading aloud at the same time, with students being able to clearly hear themselves. The classroom remains quiet enough that other students can do other activities without distraction.
Whisper phones also add an extra element of fun to the lesson, even for upper primary students.
Do you have a student who consistently sounds out all their words aloud when spelling? This is particularly prominent in the early years as students learn to segment words they want to spell and identify the sound they need.
While it can be distracting for other students, raise the classroom volume, and give answers away during spelling tests, it is not something that should be banned. Students should be encouraged to move to segmenting words in their heads but may not have the skills to do so yet.
Giving them a whisper phone can help transition them to doing this in their heads. It stops others students from being distracted or raising the noise in the classroom.
3. Phonological Awareness
Whisper phones can make sounds they are saying clearer to hear. This means it is easier for students to distinguish between similar sounds, e.g., f/v, th/v.
Try giving your students a whisper phone during phonological awareness activities and see how they go.
When students learn to decode unknown words, they must first segment the sounds before blending them back together to make the word. Some students can have difficulty putting the sounds back together to identify the words. Whisper phones are a great tool to help students when they are independently reading.
5. Editing Work
We all have those students whose version of editing their work is skimming it with their eyes and saying it is done. By asking them to read it through a whisper phone, they have to focus on how it sounds and are more likely to pick up on grammar errors or missing punctuation.
Whisper phones can be pretty easy to make, but I don't want this to be another awesome idea you see and never get around to making. You can find premade whisper phones on my website to get a set in one click!