Augmented reality enhances reading — with sound
After being introduced to Booktrack Classroom at an ISTE 2015 session, it struck me as the perfect tool to help students play with the ways tone is established. One of my favorite passages that teaches the power of syntax to convey meaning is the first paragraph of Ray Bradbury’s short story The Long Rain:
The rain continued. It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and steaming rain; it was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping at the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains. It came by the pound and the ton, it hacked at the jungle and cut the trees like scissors and shaved the grass and tunneled the soil and molted the bushes. It shrank men’s hands into the hands of wrinkled apes; it rained a solid glassy rain, and it never stopped.
Students quickly understand how the structure of Bradbury’s second sentence reinforces the message when I instruct them to take a deep breath and read the sentence aloud without taking a second one: an endless sentence equals endless rain.
In Booktracks, you can upload any text into the editor window, select words, phrases, or large chunks of text and add layers of sound to augment the meaning. Students re-read the passage and are tasked with selecting a music soundtrack they believe conveys the emotion of the piece. In addition, they select words or phrases like “hacked” or “cut the trees like scissors” and add sound effects to emphasize the author’s diction choice.
The library of sounds is searchable by keywords. Students’ choice of music and sound effects reveals their understanding of the emotive qualities of the piece and how diction choice and imagery create mood and tone.
In addition, in your Booktrack Classroom, students can share their drafts of poems with each other and ask their peers to add audio enhancements as a peer critique strategy. What interesting feedback for a writer to literally hear what emotions their words convey!
Check out this short run through of how I Booktracked Bradbury’s opening paragraph:
Interested in knowing more?
- Joanna Penn’s Booktrack: Why Soundtracks for Books are Great for Readers and Authors
- Cool Cat Teacher’s Booktrack Reading App Review
- School Library Journal’s Free Booktrack Education Tool: Engage Students with a Soundtrack to Stories
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