Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Voicethread for the Civil War

At the Primary Source Institute last summer I was introduced to Voicethread. With this website a person can post pictures and make comments about the pictures. I had been wanting to use it all year, but just never seemed to have the time. Finally, at the end of the school year I was able to use it to introduce Reconstruction. I posted seven pictures from the end of the Civil War that represent the problems the United States was facing. The students then got usernames, passwords and either typed or recorded their comments about each picture. To see what was done you can go to voicethread.com/share/1251356/

There were pros and cons to this activity. The students definitely enjoyed it. In our discussion of the pictures after they viewed them it was evident that the students read and listened to their classmates comments. Several of them told me that they had wished we did this earlier and more times during the school year. My one disappointment was over the quality of the comments. I did give this to ninth graders, but comments like "is that a tree?" were not particularly insightful. Next year I will give more guidance in the types of comments I would like them to make.

After doing this activity, I got to thinking that I would be a great way for students to tell a story about some aspect of the Civil War. They would create their own voicethread. As it has been mentioned already in the blog, there are a lot of photographic resources for the Civil War. Students could focus on a battle, camp conditions, or Lincoln's role in the war and relay that information by putting a series of pictures together. They would then provide historical facts and commentary on the pictures. After the projects are complete other students could view the individual voicethreads and make comments or ask questions.

I was surprised at how much this seemingly simple activity interested the students. Over the past several years I have been trying to integrate more technology into the classroom, but the response I received over this activity has proven to me that I need to make an even more concentrated effort at doing this.

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