Learning from Experience

voice-threadToday I introduced my students to VoiceThread. We used it to reflect on their favourite part of our recent school concert extravaganza: You Can’t Stop the Beat.

Teaching such young students, I find that you can explain and explain all you’d like, but it’s only through real life examples and experiences that a lot of my students start to understand what we talk about as a class.

For example, before they recorded their reflections, the listened to my example and we explored how to record a comment. We talked about the need for each student to use a clear voice and to keep a check on their volume. We also talked about the importance of the other students keeping their voices down and not banging pencils and chairs against tables while someone was recording.

One-by-one, students explored the process of planning what they would say and recording their thoughts.

The results? Mixed.

We had quite a bit of background noise, and a lot of my students are very softly spoken, so even with the microphone some were quite difficult to hear.

I don’t see these results as a loss or a waste of time – over my first two years as a teacher (and a prep teacher at that), I’ve learnt the importance of having a go over having a ‘perfect’ final product. What my students produced today was a great example of a first time product that we can improve.

We had a GREAT discussion following our time listening to all the voicethreads. We started with Yellow Hat thinking (good things), Black Hat thinking (things to be improved) and finally Green Hat thinking (improvements, etc). The ‘good things’ were quite generic with students complimenting those students who spoke clearly and loudly. However, it was the Black and Green hat thinking that I loved and am so proud of my students for:

Black Hat:

  • Talk a bit louder.
  • Only talk when it’s your turn.
  • Some people have to speak out louder.
  • You have to be quiet when it’s someone else’s turn.
  • Don’t shout when it’s not your turn.
  • Don’t call out when people are recording.

Green Hat:

  • We can take a laptop into the corridor where it’s quiet.
  • Take it outside.
  • We can use a different classroom.
  • We can take a computer to the hall.
  • We can use Mr Jackson’s (our AP/ICT teacher) room.

Finally, we reflected on alternative ways to record our reflections (technology-based and not). We can:

  • Talk and record our voices.
  • Write them down.
  • Type it up on the computer.
  • Put it on a piece of paper.
  • Use a digital camera.
  • Record on an iPad/type on an iPad.
  • Use a phone.
  • Use an iPod.
  • Use an iPhone.
  • Show on a TV (photos/video, by plugging devices into the TV).
  • Use a video camera.
  • Draw a picture.
  • Make a poster.

I’m quite pleased with the results, because it really highlights how far they’ve come over the last term. Their thinking has expanded and the level of teacher prompting required during this discussion was quite minimal. Part of the Contemporary Literacy project that we’ve undertaken requires the ability of students to critically reflect on the use of technology – and alternatives to using technology and they’re really starting to show that understanding!

How do you use VoiceThread in the classroom?

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