Review by Stephanie Trautman, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2015

Booktrack

Add soundtracks, create an immersive reading experience

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
4-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (0)
Not yet reviewed

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Pros: Draws students in by having them think critically about tone and purpose when pairing music and sound effects with written word.

Cons: Constantly changing music may be a distraction to some readers.

Bottom Line: An interesting product to make reading a multisensory experience.

It's fun to have students create soundtracks for specific scenes, chapters, or an entire story they're reading in class. Teachers could have students add music and sound effects to their own narrative pieces, too. For students who need audio support when they read, teachers could record read-alouds for students to listen to, with the addition of sound effects and music playing in the background. Teachers could also push students to explore an author's purpose and tone by adding music to a story they're studying. This will allow students to think critically about using sound to augment the experience an author creates for the reader with words.

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Booktrack is a site where writers can upload their stories and add soundtracks and sound effects to go along with them. Readers can also read stories with music, sound effects, and ambient sounds built in to the background. Booktrack offers a multimedia experience for writers and readers, letting readers interact with their stories in a way they haven't before. It offers thousands of classic and contemporary stories to listen to, some for free and others for purchase.

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Some students could develop listening skills by adding an embedded soundtrack, but the sounds could be a distraction to others. Instead, the creation process may be more helpful to students than the finished product they create. Booktrack can enhance students' writing process as they add sound effects and music to enhance the mood they're trying to convey with a piece of writing. The editing features are simple and straightforward, and music can be searched by genre, style, or emotion. Students can also choose a story already in the Booktrack library and add music to it, as though they were creating their own soundtrack or playlist for a book. The site will definitely grab students' attention and engage them with reading in a whole new way.

It would be great if the site could foster more collaboration among students, allowing them to add comments or converse with other creators on their sound and music selections. As a teacher, you'll probably need to scaffold students' use of the site, making sure they're focused on why the music enhances certain aspects of the story, particularly theme, mood, tone, and author’s purpose. Also, keep in mind that this tool works best with Google Chrome, and the playback features might not work if your browser is not up to date. Check on your devices' capabilities before you jump in with students. 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

It's fun and engrossing to add music to texts, and students will enjoy the sounds they find along the way as they read. The simple, straightforward design makes it easy to use.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Learning isn't especially baked in to Booktrack, but students can examine stories for their themes, their mood, and the author's purpose and then choose music accordingly.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Video tutorials, FAQs, and email support offer students flexible, detailed help, but the support materials aren't especially accessible for ELLs or students with learning differences.


Common Sense Reviewer
Stephanie Trautman Classroom teacher

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