Whisper phones: Newton Bible developing silent reading voices

Newton Bible Christian School first- and second-grade teacher KaCee McCoy, left, talks to first-grade student Myka Busenitz. On Busenitz's desk is a whisper phone. Wendy Nugent/HC Now

By Wendy Nugent, HC Now

NEWTON—Most teachers don’t like their students to talk on the phone during class. Not so with KaCee McCoy and her first- and second-graders at Newton Bible Christian School.

Students started using “phones” in reading to themselves so they can develop that reading voice in their heads.

“The second graders do pretty well without them,” McCoy said during class on Monday morning. “The first graders like to read out loud and they need to hear themselves.”

The phone allows students to whisper and hear their own voices, as it’s shaped into a phone handle.

“It’s just a hallow tube,” McCoy said, adding it’s normally for the younger grades, like kindergarten and first graders. “We ordered a bunch for the class and for third and fourth graders.”

However, the older students use it to quiet the reading voice in their heads, which is the opposite.

“I call them reading phones,” McCoy said. “They like to call them whisper phones.”

The school received the reading phones, last week.

“We were very blessed the school could find a bulk order for very cheap,” McCoy said.

The students like using them.

“They really enjoy it,” McCoy said. “Some of them more than others. The ones who already read fluently in their head, they find it more of an annoyance. They still like to hold it.”

She said it’s helping. As in the case of the students who need the reading phone, she can see them enjoying reading more.

“’Cause it increases comprehension,” she said.

Student reviews were mixed.

Kara Wolfenberger indicated she doesn’t like using the phone.

“’Cause I can read fine in my mind,” she said.

Another first grader, Ella Willems, said she likes using it a little bit.

“’Cause it’s my favorite color,” was her reason. Her phone is blue and her favorite book is “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Second grader Jack Church enjoys using the phone.

“I like to read with it ‘cause whenever I whisper into it, it goes all the way into my ear,” he said, adding it can get too loud and it makes him remember how to read.

Second grader Brody Wendling doesn’t like it.

“I don’t like using my phone because I like to read in my head,” he said, adding he doesn’t like to read when something is in his ear.