This is a great VoiceThread foremost because my students were actively engaged and finished with a clearer understanding of what the post Civil War era was really about… they no longer thought of a “universal freed slave” dancing in the street. They saw and responded to the personal and intricate human stories. They internalized the discussions and were able to link those discussions at a later date when we covered the Great Depression. Using critical thinking they were able to revisit the site and offer conjecture as to what those freed slaves might have thought of the Great Depression and the changes it produced in gov’t and society during that time.
I knew of the Slave Narratives from NCLearn.org. I discovered VoiceThread from Instructify.com. Clearly this would allow me to offer differentiated approaches to what is an important but potentially dry narrative. I uploaded the Slave Narratives in separate pages. I then read/tweaked the lesson plan script and uploaded my instructions. Next, I prepared the students for what they thought a “freed slave” was like. I showed them the VoiceThread and indicated exactly how they could post their responses. I gave the students 3 days to complete the project as we moved on in the classroom material. I made a point of beginning each class with solicitations of anyone wanting to see their post via my ibeam projector. By now the competition was established and students began to outdo one another i.e. using the drawing tool.
The goal was to gain a better understanding of the Slave Narratives and life in the Reconstruction Era. My objective was for the students to understand the subtle nuances of history. My goals did not change and indeed, only piggybacked into later assignments.
Per student request I have produced 4 more VoiceThread assignments.
- Students learn to use technology.
- Students learn ways to discuss learning outside of the classroom setting.
- Students engage in speech communication as a scaffold to learning.
- Students think critically when asked to discuss what they learned in a new way.
The audio upload of instructions was the easiest part of this project.
The hardest part was figuring out how to get to that scribble tool. No setbacks. The students were thrilled to see they could use their cell phones to make comments.
- Make sure to preload with discussion of what students think immediately happened to freed slaves. I would use one select photo as discussion commenced.
- Make sure to follow up with a student self evaluation sheet.
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.