Thursday, October 21, 2010

Voice Thread

There is a difference between knowing a tool and knowing how it works with students. I know about Voice Thread but using it with students was new to me. In order to develop background knowledge about topics mentioned in The Great Gatsby, I thought I would adapt Janet Allen's expert groups idea for Voice Thread.

We all know different things and students are included in that all. Sometimes I'm surprised by what they don't know, but we've all had different experiences. Expert groups give students an opportunity to become "experts" on a topic or concept we will encounter in our reading. Usually, students will research their topic, take notes (just for themselves) and report out on the topic when we come to it in the novel during shared reading. Shared reading is not the reading approach I take with my A.P. language students, so we adapted expert groups. Instead of reporting out on our expert topics during shared reading, students posted what they discovered to Voice Thread.

I created the Gatsby thread with the book cover, the first scene from the Gatsby film and our chapter 1 Wordle. Because I had not used Voice Thread with students before my directions need help (I'll post them later they are on my teacher machine at school). While you can create an iconic image as your Voice Thread profile pictures, students can not post entire slide shows as comments. So I'll be reworking these directions for next time based on what I learned. Students worked on Gatsby related topics together in teams of two. We spent 2 class periods in the media center (90 minutes total). The media specialist taught students how to access the databases to which we subscribe and with that students were off gathering information.

I asked students to roughly script what they would like to say in their comment before they recorded it. I'm not sure they need an actual script. The notes they took are probably good enough for commenting purposes, but I may ask the students what they thought of it.  If I were to teach this initial commenting process over I would  do something similar to what Lee Kolbert did to teach students how to be good commenters. She simulated posting a comment to a blog with chart paper and sticky notes. My students need that practice. I haven't used Voice Thread with my freshmen yet, so I will probably start with physical bits they can manipulate and post before we go to the computers.

So what happened?

  • I wasn't sure how to share my thread so that students could post comments to it.
  • We worked together to navigate the page in class and students showed me how to make the thread public.
  • We experimented with commenting types: video, call in, text comments.
  • Students who had followed my directions (using images to illustrate their comments) posted their pieces to the center as they couldn't be posted as comments (so that actually worked out).
  • We took 1 class period to record the comments in class cobbling together access between my 2 laptops, a student's laptop. 4 antiquated student machines and students' cell phones.
  • It worked!

The students' comments worked. They make sense. They are audible. They are inform rich. There is much more for us to learn about how to make the collaboration smoother or more connected, but it was an exciting first step.

1 comment:

  1. OOh; I just learned about this today! I'd like to see what your kids did. I'll add this to my technology hand-holding wish list....