There’s much to be said about thinking out of the box, but sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones.
Naretha Bekker is a learning support teacher at Durbanville Primary School. She teaches learners with special needs and collaborates with the school’s teachers to improve their literacy skills. Naretha noticed that in a busy classroom where everyone is reading out loud, students struggle to hear their own voices. This is problematic in intermediate phase schools as people can only filter out background noise from the age of 15.
After attending a workshop about auditory processing disorders, Naretha came up with the idea of the whisper phone.
As the name suggests, only a whisper voice is required, allowing for a whole class to read undisturbed. As students have quiet reading time, they are given the opportunity to read to themselves and actively listen to the way their own voice sounds.
The whisper phone is light, portable, cost-effective and quite cool-looking! Naretha’s goal was to make one available to every learner at Durbanville Primary because she realised the difference it can make in a learners’ reading comprehension, their reading aloud abilities and even their self-confidence as a reader, thinker and speaker.
This is a wonderful tool as all learners can benefit from using the whisper phone, and not only those with auditory processing disorders.
Teachers asked a number of learners to give them feedback on how the whisper phone has helped them in the school system and their responses were all positive.
“When I read something in my head, I don’t understand it, but when I read it out loud, I understand it.” (Gr 5)
“It helps me to listen, because my voice repeats in my ear.” (Gr 4)
“It helps me to read passages properly because I can hear myself.” (Gr 7)
“I can hear myself” (Gr 5) This is from a dyslectic learner who has benefitted from the whisper phone.
Literacy is so much more than reading and writing, with listening being an important component as well, the whisper phone is a tool every student should have in their suitcase.
To make a whisper phone:
- Purchase a 3/4″ PVC pipe and 3/4″ elbow joints (you will need 2 for each phone).
- Cut PVC pipe into 3 1/2 inch sections.
- Put an elbow joint on each end of the pipe.
- Colourful duct tape can be wrapped around the pipe for fun.