The winner of our first Listen Edition sweepstakes is Ms. Lauren Mabry of Eagle laurenmRock ES in Virginia. Learn more about how she reaches students, parents, and the community through her school website and why she believes public radio creates connections to important events for students.

Ms. Lauren Mabry (Twitter, Blog

lauren1Please introduce yourself: Hello!  My name is Lauren Mabry, and I am the librarian at Eagle Rock Elementary School in Botetourt County Public Schools, Virginia.  I teach information literacy skills to pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students.  Prior to this position, I was a middle school librarian in Henrico County Public Schools, Virginia.

What do you consider the most important factor to learning success? The most important factor in developing learners is teaching students how to think critically.  The world’s problems are not neatly divided in multiple-choice options, and it isn’t possible to memorize all ofthe information that we will need to know in our lives.  To develop these essential skills, students must be presented with thought-provoking scenarios where the problem-solving process is just as important, if not more so, than the solutions they develop.  We need our upcoming leaders to be independent, informed, and sophisticated decision-makers—and we need to start cultivating them today.

What is your teacher secret to getting students to listen in class? The key togetting students to listen in class is in the content.  Think about our behavior as adults— if it isn’t interesting or relevant, we tune it out.  Our students are growing up in a media-rich world where they learn filtering skills early on.  Elementary students are still developing the discipline to override this natural tendency when necessary. Honor their development and their time by sharing content that grabs their interest and inspires thought and discussion.

How would you use public radio in the classroom? At the elementary level, I would introduce public radio as a whole-group experience in order to guide the students through the listening process: preparing for listening, listening actively, and analyzing what they heard.  I would gradually transition the students to listening in small groups toallow students to support each other as they operate the listening device and respond to the radio story.  At the secondary level, I regularly used public radio stories in learning stations.  By using carefully crafted questions, I encouraged higher-level thinking.  Students thoughtfully considered the selected radio story in multiple contexts:  content, personal response, and the speaker’s point of view.

Group listening allows students to have a shared, simultaneous learning experience.  The facial expressions of their peers as they listen provide important non-verbal cues to help students interpret and internalize what they hear.  Listening in small groups (as opposed to as a class) is particularly successful because the learning community becomes intimate and personal.  Audio splitters are the perfect tool for accomplishing small-group listening so that multiple students can share one listening device.

Why do you think listening is important? Public radio offers access to powerfullauren2 primary sources— from live recordings to personal memoirs— that allow students to form personal connections with important events.  These connections help students to understand the importance of what they are learning and changes the process of “covering” content to one where students become involved with the content.  Even more important, active listening is a skill that will serve students well throughout their lives, in all aspects of their lives.

See more of Ms. Mabry’s recent examples of student work:

Holocaust Stations 2013

Biography Billboards

Student Newspaper


Check out Ms. Mabry’s post on Listen Edition!