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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

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