One of our school goals for this school year is reading. As a school we are focusing on developing a love of reading in our students and evaluating our teaching practices to ensure that our students are meeting their expected learning results with reading. So, I was very excited to read Wes Fryer’s recent post about using VoiceThread for book reviews. To be honest, I looked at VoiceThread last year, but I was so caught up in all the other things I was doing that I pretty much forgot about it until I saw Wes’ fantastic samples (completed by his very own children!).
Now that I’ve been reminded of what a great tool VoiceThread is, I asked two of our fourth grade teachers to begin a collaborative book review project. Of course they absolutely loved Alexander’s book review, but they were even more excited about the collaborative aspect of VoiceThread. Basically, the author of a VoiceThread can invite other users to add onto their existing Thread – meaning that our students in Bangkok can start a book review about, let’s say, Harry Potter, and students, anywhere in the world, can add their own opinions to that very same thread. The idea that one person’s book review can grow into a collaborative project was definitely the clincher for our teachers. And for me, it’s a stepping stone into more “flat classroom” type projects that I’d like to begin at ISB.
The idea of connecting students around the world to talk about books is also definitely exciting for our kids. I was telling one of the grade 4 boys about the project after school the other day. He started off frowning – I could see the wheels turning, this is clearly a student that does not like to read – and then I mentioned the global partners and his face just lit up. He told me that he doesn’t like to read books but he’s excited about being able to talk to other students around the world. Whatever it takes to get our students excited about reading is good enough for me!
Our goal is to ensure that all of our readers have a place to discuss their favorite books and to get other students interested in books they might not normally read. Each of our students will produce at least one audiovisual book review, then we will share them with other classes and ask them to add onto our existing Threads with their own ideas about the book. These collaborative book reviews will start out between our two fourth grade classrooms here at ISB, but we would love to collaborate with other grade 4 classes around the world.
Are you interested? Please feel free to add yourself to the planning wiki to get started!