One of the real joys of my current job is that I get to work with our younger students in the primary school. Having only ever taught high school, the chance to work with the R-6 kids is just so refreshing. They are so enthusiastic, so keen and so refreshingly honest. I’ve had a great time this term working with all the Junior School kids, but in particular I enjoyed working with Year 3 on some digital storytelling projects, where I suggested to the Year 3 teachers that they try Voicethread as our storytelling tool of choice. One quick demo and they were all excited by the possibilities. (And so was I for that matter… although I’ve used Voicethread a lot for my own personal use, this was the first time I’ve had the chance to work with students to do something with it)
The kids were especially excited by the idea of getting some real feedback from real people in other parts of the world. If you get a chance, please pop in and leave them a message. You will need to sign in with a Voicethread account in order to leave a message but I’m sure many readers of this blog will already have one, and if you don’t you should! If you could get your own students to leave them some feedback too, that would be awesome!
You can find the kids’ work at http://ed.voicethread.com/#u110482
Note that comment moderation is enabled, so your comments may not show up right away, but please leave them anyway. At the time of writing, they are still finishing them off so there are still a couple more to come yet, but your comments would still be very welcome, and a great motivator I’m sure!
Our school signed up for ed.voicethread, the new education service provided by VT, which is good although I have to say I’ve found it a little confusing to manage. However, we seem to have gotten the kids’ work online without too much trouble and the students have really enjoyed the task. Voicethread is an amazing tool, so simple to use, yet so powerful in what can be done with it. As an entry point into digital storytelling and podcasting (which is sort of what it is) it is a really excellent tool.
We were particularly focused on ensuring that all our images came from non-copyrighted sources, and the kids got really good at searching through Creative Commons photos using either FlickrCC, Flickr Storm or CC Search. It was great to see these 7 and 8 year olds showing respect for intellectual property online and only using CC licensed photos.
In hindsight, I think I’d scaffold the work a little more next time, as the task was fairly sophisticated for Year 3 students. Although I prelinked the various National Park websites and linked to Google Maps’ satellite images of the parks on our Year 3 Moodle page so they could just go directly to some of the more relevant sources, most of the websites were written in fairly adult language. Despite that, I think they still did a good job of answering the following questions in their Voicethread…
- What type of park is it?
- What is it protecting?
- Description including location… Where it is?
- About the Park? Things to do and special features?
- Interesting facts about your National Park… History? Aboriginal perspective? Tourism?
- Why do you think this area should be a National Park?
- Come up with some specific rules for conservation in your National park.
All in all I think they did a great job, and I’m very proud of them! You go girls!