We used VoiceThread to document our class trip to the Maker Faire 2008 in the San Francisco Bay Area as part of our study of the Spirit of Creativity. For some of our sixth graders, this was the first long trip away from home without family. To keep them focused on the trip and to reduce homesickness, we did not allow them to call their parents, so the VoiceThread provided a way for the kids to share what they were learning and doing and for the parents to know they were happy and safe.
We simply used the VoiceThread as a daily diary for the class. I posted a photo or video that represented the activity of the day, and each of the 10 students took turns posting a comment. Then, as they had time, parents, friends, and family members listened to our report and responded with their own posts. While this started as a communication tool for parents and students to be in touch, it became a way of documenting our learning and curriculum for future classes.
Kids were more willing to “journal” knowing there would be an authentic audience. However, kids who did not have parents with time or computer access felt left out if they didn’t get daily responses.
We used iMovie to create the video clips. Freeplaymusic.com for the soundtracks.
This was a great way to document our trip. It only worked because we had three computers to share between 10 kids and internet access in the evenings. I would like to begin using this more in class for individual students to share their learning, especially those who struggle with writing. I am a bit concerned about the longevity of our audio/visual scrapbook. I purchased an archived copy, and it is simply a Quicktime movie without any of the interactivity, and it was too big, I guess - the movie is incomplete. So I don’t recommend buying a copy unless you have a short or small VoiceThread. You’ll need internet access to share it.
I would certainly use this again and this time I would solicit comments from other US History classes - in my school or in another state. This would easily lend itself to comments from African American Museum moderators or to other classes such as Art or English.