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River Oaks Elementary School

VoiceThread: U.S. History Research

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mrs. Goodman's 5th grade students have created research projects about the United States. Areas of  study included landmarks, people, major cities, and regions. Within each category, students chose the specific topics they would like to explore. By applying strategies from the Independent Investigation Method (IIM) framework, students developed questions and set research goals. Then they selected print and online sources and collected notefacts. Students are developing the skills of writing ideas in their own words in a format that is both short but complete enough to make sense. Documenting sources has also been a key component. Students are developing an understanding of plagiarism and ways to avoid it. In order to begin writing and creating a product to share what they learned, students categorized and organized their notefacts.They originally planned to make a picture book that each student would take home, so at first their work was printed out in black and white pages. But some students expressed concern about the amount of paper that would be required in making so many copies. So instead we decided to have kids showcase their work in a digital format instead.

We chose to use a tool called VoiceThread, which is an online media album that allows us to make comments on images, videos, documents, really simply. Our project is embedded above, and can be viewed directly here. Voice recordings and comments can be made using your voice (with a microphone or phone), text, audio, or by video (with a webcam). It's easy to control who can access and comment on a VoiceThread, and an entire conversation can be collected in the world and shared in one central place.

Now students have been able to record reflective comments about their work, and get voice and text feedback from not only their peers, but also the wider ROE school community. The audience for their work has expanded far outside classroom walls to our faculty and families here in Houston and beyond. Students evaluated and raised new questions about their work. They focused on including evidence, elaboration, and examples as part of their comments and ideas. In addition, students created an avatar as part of learning how to build a safe online identity and how to contribute to an online learning community.

For more details about about how we worked through our project, please visit the project guidelines page. You can learn more about VoiceThread with these tutorials. See more exciting possibilities with these examples of VoiceThread as Digital Portfolio

e-Reading & e-Learning

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

There are numerous e-Reading and e-Learning sources available to our students to help them to develop vocabulary, fluency, and reading comprehension. They can also provide motivation for reading which can drive progress across the curriculum! Here are just a few, and by clicking the link beneath this short list, you will find many more to explore! 

  • Capstone Interactive Library: Non-fiction e-Books at a range of levels with audio and visual read-aloud capabilities are linked to the ROE Libary Catalog Search page. On the ROE catalog search page, click the red & yellow icon  labeled  'Capstone Interactives.'

                              • Renzulli LearningStudents complete a personal survey that profiles their interest areas, how they like to learn, and how they like to express what they have learned. The Renzulli system “hand picks” educational activities which match the results of each child’s unique profile. Renzulli Learning also screens websites for educationally sound and child-friendly content. The database is searchable for e-Books and provides customized e-Learning activities that students can explore independently as well as through teacher-directed assignments and projects.

                                    • Toon Books Reader: Candlewick Press:  Readers can listen to text read to them (by the author), or they can activate the audio on individual balloons, soon graduating to reading by themselves. These are available in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, French, Chinese and Russian.

                                      Click HERE to see & explore more...
                                      For Teachers:  Free e-Book of Web Tools for Educators
                                      (via Free Tech For Teachers)

                                      Links & Resources for Teachers

                                      Monday, December 6, 2010

                                      • Graphs Gallery Collection - Download a large selection of graphs for use on SMARTBoard. This is a 'gallery collection' and will download directly into 'My Content' folder from Gallery tab. (via Teaching SMARTBoard)

                                      • Interactive Websites: A collection of resources for math, science, social studies, reading, language arts, and assessment.

                                      Teaching History: Historical Thinking Poster via
                                      Pocket Constitution via Heritage Foundation