It would be great if students had all the time they needed to create digital stories from scratch during class time at school, but the fact is they don’t. Time is in shorter supply today in our classrooms than ever before, with a seemingly endless number of new mandates from different authorities and groups proliferating constantly. In this environment of sharply limited time, Teaching with Templates can be essential when it comes to technology projects. Rather than have students start with a blank document, they can start with a partially-created one or “template.” Story kits like those in the Kitzu project which Hall Davidson helped organize years ago for Orange County schools is another example of media materials prepared in advance for students, in a template, which can facilitate the often challenging task of helping students complete a media project at school on the available computers, during available class time. Template based teaching can certainly limit the creativity of students, and I am not advocating its use in all contexts. In many cases, however, using templates can make the difference between students being able to complete an assignment or getting frustrated during the initial stages of an assignment using technology.
Being aware of the importance of template-based teaching with technology, I was delighted to learn this evening that VoiceThread now supports “Copying/Cloning your VoiceThreads.” According to the VoiceThread blog:
We’ve had a lot of requests for the ability to copy an existing VoiceThread so that it can be reused with a different group of people or to just create a backup copy. Beginning today you have that ability right on your MyVoice page (in the gear menu), just click ‘Make a Copy’ – and a menu opens for you to title, describe, and choose the comments you’d like to include in the new version. With the ability to copy your existing VoiceThreads it now makes sense for you spend a lot of time and energy creating the highest quality VoiceThreads possible, as you can use them again and again.
This is GREAT news!
VoiceThread is also compiling a digital library of sample VoiceThreads which demonstrate different ways students are “showing what they know” and want to know using VoiceThread. Complete this Google Form to submit examples. VoiceThread is “giving $20 worth of archival exports to all of the submitters whose work is published in the library.” The VoiceThread for Education wiki already has a LOT of great examples, categorized by grade level. Why not submit some of your favorite VoiceThread links from that collection, or from other sources?
The 13 Days that Changed American History is one of my favorite VoiceThread secondary examples. Slide 7, which addresses the events of December 7, 1941, and their lasting impact is absolutely phenomenal. Unlike many VoiceThreads, in this case rather than upload individual photos and comment on them, students have uploaded actual videos they created using a variety of photos, sound clips, videos, and text titles. I’m guessing they used iMovie to create these videos, but I’m not sure. Students at North Shore Country Day School (north of Chicago) working with Vinnie Vrotney created this VoiceThread. I’d put the quality of these videos up against anything I’ve seen sold or licensed commercially from sources like United Streaming!
A great assignment for students would be to have them divide into groups, and then provide audio or video feedback on individual dates/slides in this VoiceThread.
Full disclosure: I am not in any way affiliated with or financially compensated by VoiceThread. As an avid digital storyteller myself and advocate for thoughtful and appropriate digital storytelling the classroom, I’ve found VoiceThread to be the single most powerful and beneficial web 2.0 site and technology for students and teachers to use. It is not secret I am a BIG fan of VoiceThread. Any educator interested in differentiated instruction and safe digital collaboration should be as well.
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If you're trying to listen to a podcast episode and it's not working, check this status page. (Wes is migrating his podcasts to Amazon S3 for hosting.) Remember to follow Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wesley's Facebook pages for "Speed of Creativity Learning" and his eBook, "Playing with Media." Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Mapping Media to the Common Core / Curriculum."
On this day..
- Video Tutorial: Creating Narrated Art or Photos with AudioBoo for iPad - 2013
- Publish a Free Digital Magazine with Zeen - 2012
- Whacha Runnin' on Yer Mac These Days? (Dec 2012) - 2012
- Virtual Participation Options for Dec 14 and 15 Google Tools Workshops - 2010
- Lessons learned using Ustream Recorder for iPhone - 2009
- Share password protected online videos with Mobile Me - 2009
- Connecting place to stories with Google Maps - 2008
- Two new video podcasts from Ford Island, Hawaii - 2007
- 1:1 Computing Guidebook - 2005
- Wireless and hotel Internet security - 2005