Our VoiceThread Project- From the Ground Up

One of our 9th grade History teachers was intrigued with the idea of doing something different than the same old PowerPoint projects this year so…Sarah Ludwig (Academic Tech Coordinator) and I seized the opportunity to introduce VoiceThread. We met with the teacher and created a project description and a rubric so that we had a clear focus and the students knew what to expect. I worked with Period A and Sarah worked with Period G.  Here is the run down of our plan:

Using her wiki, Sarah set up some recommended websites and sample projects to show to the students to get started.

We  introduced VoiceThread and reviewed the requirements for the project using the Rubric we created with Mr. Gonnelly’s (classroom teacher) help.

We talked about using Creative Commons to search for images and explained how to use some of the other databases our school subscribes to. Students searched for the 3 “images” or “collection of images” (each) that they were to use to represent their topic. Finding the “perfect image(s)” proved to be a lot more difficult than they thought. Finding the right map of Roman trade, why one image of St. Paul was better than another…. this took real thought and there were some great conversations surrounding this process. Students then began creating a script of 45 – 60 seconds per image. While, at first, students thought that 45- 60 seconds would be easy, they soon realized that they had TOO much to say and that paring the information down to the most important was very challenging. Mr. Gonnelly worked with each group individually to do this before their storyboard was approved.

After three days of quality writing, excellent collaboration, and some stimulating conversations, the students were ready to record.

We taught students to log into VoiceThread . We reviewed with students how to upload their images to their voice thread (single photo vs. multiple photos) .

This proved to be the easiest part! VoiceThread was very intuitive for the students and they figured it all out with little help.

On the last day, we viewed the student projects. Here are some samples.

http://voicethread.com/?#q.b1576497.i8329043

http://voicethread.com/?#q.b1583193

http://voicethread.com/?#q.b1583578.i8363786

The students were very proud of their work! (as they should be)

One of the most interesting parts of the project was the class discussion following it. I asked what they thought of using VoiceThread. Here are some of the things they reported:

“I liked VoiceThread so much better than PowerPoint. PowerPoints go on and on.”

“I really had to LEARN about my topic because I had to think so much about the images and spend so much time writing the script.”

“Recording the script really helped me to understand my topic because I had to keep repeating it over and over until I got it right”.

“This was a lot harder than I thought it would be.” (academically)

Mr. Gonnelly reported that he was thrilled with the way the project went. He felt that students were thinking critically, working collaboratively, and having fun all at the same time. He also said that the viewing of the projects was so much more efficient than spending 3 – 4 days on PowerPoints that could last 15 minutes per group.

For me, personally, this was an amazing project. Watching the students work so hard and seeing their final product was so fulfilling for me. We have been sharing this with other teachers and have many requests to try VoiceThread. How awesome!

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