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Kindergarten reading from Heather Taylor
I think that this is a good project because the children are able to share some of their experiences with reading and talking about books at home. Many families have difficulty expanding text with their children at home and knowing how to talk about books. By doing this VoiceThread I give them an example of how to expand text and how also to discuss reading more at home and compare what their friends are saying about reading too. I think that by hearing what others have to say it also opens the door for even more conversation about reading and learning in the home.
I was looking for a project that would appeal to all of my students and also help enhance the learning experience at home. One of the things that I always try to tell my kindergarten parents is to talk about books with their children and that reading is much more than just books. It is all around us and it is important to talk about that concept and the importance of how reading affects our lives each day. This is a book that we have read in class and an author that I love for kindergarten. All the children love Todd Parr and he is an author that they can relate to with his silly, colorful pictures and fun test. We also spend a lot of time talking about how he labels his books. In making my VoiceThread, I just incorporated some of the concepts that we discuss in class. Once I decided what I wanted my students to talk about with their families, I took pictures of pages from the book and wrote a script for myself to read with each page. I then sent home a detailed letter to my class explaining how to use the VoiceThread and also put that information on my e-board along with a VoiceThread that I embedded explaining what a VoiceThread is. Students and their families are still responding. I think some tried it and thought it didn't work because I did not tell them that it was moderated.
The goal of my project was to try a VoiceThread with my class, but also to get my families talking about books. I also think that having the VoiceThread encourages other conversations at home, for example, talking about who a child's friends are and comparing and contrasting the answers that people give. I think my objectives for this project remained the same throughout.
Challenges or setbacks
The easiest part was embedding it into my eboard. Uploading photos was also easy.
A lot of [the project] was challenging, but I think that part of that is because I had never done it before and I was trying something new. I am sure the next one will be easier. Some things that I thought were difficult and/or very time consuming were: giving all of my students accounts and then having to go in and individually put in the avatars that we created on KidPix. Also, I felt that I had to give a very detailed explanation to my parents on how to use a VoiceThread. I understand that this was a one time thing. As I did the VoiceThread, I also realized that it is good to have a script, even if you know what you want to say - it just helps the process go a lot more smoothly. One setback was that I think some of my parents gave up on doing it because they did not see their responses show up immediately. I forgot in all of my instructions to tell them that it was a moderated site. I also felt it was hard to come up with my first VoiceThread, because even though I think it is a great tool I think that using it for kindergarten you have to very careful what you choose to make it meaningful and worthwhile. I think that after I try it a few times and explore other VoiceThreads that people have done that this will not be as much of an issue.
I used KidPix for the students' avatars. I used a digital camera for my photos. I used my e-board to post my VoiceThread, directions on how to use it and a VoiceThread explaining what a VoiceThread is. I also used the projector in my room to show the students the VoiceThread that I made and get them excited about it.
I learned to plan it out almost like a little movie before you sit down with it. Browse through VoiceThreads to get ideas. Give detailed directions to your families and explain what it is, because most people are not familiar with VoiceThreads. The children love seeing their answers and their friends answers appear. It is a very exciting and powerful tool.
Not for this particular VoiceThread, but I would like to think of a way next year to use VoiceThreads as a communication tool between my class and our e-pal class (our digital book buddies) at another school so we could share information with each other. I think it would be great because it would give each student a chance to share their views and get to know their buddies better.