Students shared personally significant poetry against a backdrop of their own self portrait. This VoiceThread gave students a chance to share their work orally, as well as to explore the cultural differences between our students in a safe environment.
This VoiceThread brought an art project and a writing project to an authentic audience. We first created our poems in class, using a specific frame that followed a loose pattern. Then, we drew our self portraits and focused on proper placement and size of eyes, nose and mouth on a face. I scanned the portraits into VoiceThread, and then had students read their poem to their portrait.
The original goal of the project was to celebrate and discover how our backgrounds make us unique. The self portraits came from one of the art standards for our grade level. It occurred to me when planning the portrait that it would make a lovely backdrop for a reading of their poems. Then, I chose to embed the VoiceThread into our classroom blog so that the other students could enjoy at their leisure. I also realized that this gave families at home a chance to enjoy and recognize the uniqueness of our students.
The easiest part of this project was creating the self portraits.
The hardest part was getting all of the voices entered into the VoiceThread. We needed a quiet room as our microphone picked up the slightest of noise (even recess noise with our classroom door closed made its way into the recordings). We learned a new phrase to keep our class quiet during the recordings: “Quiet on the set!”
A scanner, a microphone, and my laptop was all it took!
Have the students practice their poems several times before they come to you to record. We had to re-do the recordings more than once due to mistakes. Also, refresh VoiceThread after every couple of students - we had issues with the recordings either not being saved or being cut off early for no apparent reason.
Eventually I would like to have the students make comments on each others poems. I would like to give them some comment starters so that they can provide supportive and kind feedback to each other. I would like to have students make individual VoiceThreads with more hand drawn images of family and friends, and then provide the background story with their voices.