You have probably heard of the story if Little Red Riding Hood many times and you probably think of her as a sweet child. Well – you’re wrong.
So begins the story written by 8th graders at Islander Middle School. An exercise in narrative writing and demonstrating understanding of literary elements, the students worked together to write a story based on a classic fairy tale. Then, they illustrated their stories with original drawings and read the stories to kindergartners at Lakeridge Elementary, an experience that middle school students have enjoyed for many years.
But this time, while sharing with the kindergartners, two 8th grade students in Monica Phillips’ classroom clicked the “start” button on their laptop computer connected to the presentation screen in front of the room. Then, their story came to life with a narrative they had recorded earlier (complete with sound effects), illustrations and a voice activated response at the end. “What did you like about the story?” asked one 8th grade student. “The pictures,” said a shy kindergartner over the computer microphone. All of the responses were then collected and a “voice thread” begins.
“We heard about “voice thread” (http://www.voicethread.com) from other teachers,” explained Julie Hovind and Sarah Olson, Teachers on Special Assignment for MISD. “It’s basically a web-based communications network that allows students and teachers to collaborate on digital stories and all sorts of other projects. We asked for volunteers to pilot this idea to see how it works in our classrooms.” “I thought it sounded interesting,” said Monica Phillips, “especially for 8th grade students who love the active aspects of technology.”
Piloting new ideas is one way the district is implementing technology as a tool for learning in MISD classrooms. As “Teachers on Special Assignment” (TOSAs), Sarah Olson and Julie Hovind are spending this year working with teachers on everything from the interactive whiteboard and document camera, to teaching with powerpoint, creating web sites and utilizing on-line reporting systems. Between this past summer and throughout the year, all MISD teachers will have participated in a Technology Integration workshop focused on the interactive use of the internet such as wikis, blogs, podcasting and modeling systems. “It’s all part of the district Technology Plan through 2012” said Jennifer Wright. “Our goal is to maintain and expand access to electronic resources so that students and staff have the tools they need to enhance student learning.”