The Halloween candy jar is almost empty, the lights in the pumpkins are blown out, but my spirits are high after another whirlwind week at work and play. This week I worked with the World Issues teacher to prepare for our Remembrance Day display and presentation, and learned how to use VideoThread at the same time. How good is that?
Please enjoy this 11 minute VoiceThread presentation prepared with help from our World Issues students and teacher for the Remembrance Week display to be held in the library on November 7, 2008.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
In the past two years we’ve held a Remembrance Day Service in the library the day before Remembrance Day, but this year there are no classes on November 10 because it’s a staff professional development day. After discussion with the principal, we decided to create a display in the glass display case, plus provide a multimedia presentation, information on community events and other information related to Remembrance Day and refreshments in the library study space on Friday, November 7.
The presentation includes “The Canadian Soldier”, a poem written and read by Winnipeg Adult Education Centre World Issues student Susanne. Her husband is currently serving overseas. Susanne also contributed a photo of her young son laying a wreath alongside an elderly veteran that is also included in this presentation. Randy, another Adult Ed. student reads “In Flanders Fields”. The presentation also includes video clips and sound clips that I’ve gathered over the years from the Veterans Affairs Canada website to use here and there during the service.
I think adding text comments to cite the source of the images, video and sound clips is very effective, and a good example to students for when they create their own multimedia presentations.
Being able to work on it from any computer in the school or at home was an absolute joy. Students added their narrations at their own convenience, at their own pace and from the workstation of their choice.
I love the way it looks when it’s played right out of the blog! A new “VodPod” beta version application has been added to WordPress.com within the last week or two because before that no videos except YouTube or Google Videos could be embedded.
Promoting the November 7 Remembrance Week presentation in the library is now easy because I will e-mail the link to the VoiceThread as it’s posted on the school blog (read below for more information on this) to all staff with an invitation to book a time to drop by with their students. And . . . I have a feeling that some teachers are going to be interested in creating VoiceThread with their students too, so in a way I’m also promoting the integration of VoiceThread into curriculum!
I applaud the good folks at VoiceThread for making it free to educators. Ed.Voicethread is certainly also reasonably priced and we may just take advantage of it at Adult Ed. soon. I decided to purchase a $2.99 export of the Remembrance Week video so I can activate a “loop” option so it will be playing non-stop throughout the day on Nov. 7. At this time of writing the download I received is not acceptable (only 17 seconds worth of video – what??) but I’ve e-mailed for help with this and hope for a full download in time for the November 7th showing – otherwise I can show it from a wired laptop and projector.
I’ve linked the video to the Adult Ed. school virtual library as well. The first Voicethread I ever saw was on Joyce Valenza’s Springfield High School Virtual Library. I’m already thinking of demonstrations to prepare in Voicethreads to add to my school virtual library. The next one I’m going to do is a demonstration of how to access our Ebscohost magazine and newspaper database.
After some thought I decided to go public with the Remembrance Week VoiceThread and to allow comments, at least for now. Because of the sensitive nature of the video, I added the comment stream to my RSS feed so I can monitor comments closely.
I enjoyed adding a comment to the video produced by Donna Desrochiers about creating VideoThreads using pages created in Comic Life – check out my comment on slide 12 of http://voicethread.com/#q.b2229.i0.k0 . We’ve purchased Comic Life for all the workstations at Adult Ed. and students have been experimenting with it in Seminar for Business classes. The two applications are going to work beautifully together at Adult Ed. as well! See Donna DesRoches’ blog post about how they’ve integrated the two applications while working with a group of grade 2 students in Living Sky School Division in Saskatchewan.
I particularly enjoyed the many comments posted to young Zoe Farrell’s VoiceThread: BOOOOOO Global Warming . This VoiceThread includes comments from experts on the topic and comments from other children. It is a wonderful resource for children studying Global Warming. I did find some vandalism on slide 6 of this VoiceThread which saddened me, and made me think that it’s worth the time to review how to make thoughtful comments on other’s videos with students. There is a very good blog on this topic on Grade 6 teacher, Bill Ferriter’s blog post: Using Voicethread for Collaborative Thought. . . It has links to documents for helping students learn how to make thoughtful comments to other’s videos.
In the blog post: VoiceThreads: Extending the Classroom with Interactive Multimedia Albums by Laila Weir @ Bill Ferriter is quoted as saying:
more students participate more actively in digital discussions than in the classroom. “You don’t have to be the loud one or the popular one,” he points out. When he asked his students about their online involvement, he said they cited the sense of safety: “They can think about their comments beforehand.” They also liked the fact that any Voicethread has multiple conversations going on at once. “In a classroom conversation, there’s generally one strand of conversation going at any one time, and if you’re bored by that particular strand, you’re completely disengaged,”
His comments resonate with me especially when I think about the nature of many of our Adult Ed. students who didn’t do well in their traditional high school settings.
I’ve also taken note of Ferriter’s finding that students reflect and respond to VoiceThread videos more spontaneously than to text articles on a subject. The World Issues teacher and I have decided to test this out by asking the World Issues class to post comments on our moderated school blogsite post: http://blogs.wsd1.org/waec/category/remembrance-week/. This way students do not need to create an account with VoiceThread to leave a comment unless they want to. (I’m also trying to promote the school blogsite.)
Please notice that at the time of this writing that VoiceThread does not embed into our division’s WordPress.org blog. I’ve e-mailed a request to the division educational technology consultant to upload the VoiceThread plugin. He said it looked doable and he would do it sometime this weekend – so by Monday it may also be embedded here – talk about “just in time learning”!