Tag Archives: VuVox

Course 5

The Revolution of Revolutionary Biographies

Realized that I never posted a link to our Middle School U.S. Revolutionary Biography lesson. The format is not UbD, but it is similar and it is the format we use at our school. The steps we have taken have been outline in previous posting, which I will also link to. We continue to work on the lesson, however now that we have time to breath a bit we are also playing catch up in other areas as well. In small schools like ours we were many hats and only have one head! I’ll get back to you with some finished products in the near future!

The links below take you through some of the steps and thought processes from the start of the lesson to where it currently stands. You could also scroll down on the blog and start with the posting titled “A Life Preserver Please!”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Link to Lesson Plan:

Revolutionary Biographies Lesson Plan

For Rubrics to the lesson check out Diana’s Blog:

Diana’s Blog

Feel free to ask any additional questions that you might have!




Course 5

Life Preserver II

Life Preserver Cont…

With Mary Dodson Wade’s visit over and the foundation set, Diana went to work presenting the biography project to her middle school LA/SS class.  My plan would be to come in as much as I could in between play rehearsals. Since I was not one to be teaching the writing part my primary focus was on assisting kids through their technological endeavors.

Introducing historical biographies

Before the lesson began Diana and I were looking at ways in which we could incorporate technology. The kids had been shown a number of presentation tools throughout the year including, vuvox, voicethread, Comic Life, voki, storyjumper as well as others. These would all be options to the students, but my hope was that some students would be able to locate their own tools. Tools that might better cater to their target audience of K-2 students. I had high self-fulfilling hopes of learning about something new from our student with this option for self-exploration.

The students/teacher list of tech tools grows!

The larger issue for Diana and I became the aspect of collaboration with the outside world. Mary had already physically graced us with her presence, but perhaps she would be willing to continue this little experiment of ours virtually. Diana composed and sent of an email to Mary asking if she wouldn’t mind taking on the roll of editor so to speak. Students would send off their final drafts along with a lovely thank you note to Mary who would in turn offer the students suggestions prior to “publishing” their final drafts. Originally we had planned to only share in person the finished stories to our K-2 students and virtually with the middle school students at our sister school in Duri, three nauseating and bumpy hours away. Then it occurred to us why not let our kids present them to the K-2 students in Duri as well. It would require us to work out some logistics seeing as our students would potentially be using a variety of tools. Skype may work for part of the presentation, but not all. Perhaps screen share would work. Needless to say we needed to wait and see what tools the kids final settle on using and then get out fantastic Tech Coordinator Barry involved!

In the meantime Diana and I would continue to facilitate. Guide the kids when guidance was needed and make sure that they stay the course due to our limited timeline. I was already seeing how easy it was for them to get sucked into one site without exploring others.  So for now students are busy gathering relevant data on their historical figure, finding or creating images to use and ultimately deciding what tools would work best for their presentation.

Stay tuned…

Course 3

Take a Picture!

Well that was enjoyable!

Course 3 introduced us to a multitude of options and effective practices in the use of visual media. The tools and philosophies presented were inspiring and some even immediately incorporate in to the classroom. Where previously I felt a hesitation to apply many of the new technologies introduced, but these particular new toys (VuVox, VoiceThread, Comic Life, etc.) and new ways of looking at uses for old ones (PowerPoint) began to feel familiar much quicker and dare I say it, fun!

The amount of programs/websites tools available now is absolutely astounding, yet super exciting. The link to cogdogroo was eye opening with its list of over 50 tools to assist in the creation of digital storytelling. Granted I wish I had seen it last spring when I was wrapping up another online course in technology integration from a California university. At the time I was given very little to go off of in regards to digital storytelling, yet I was expected to write about how I would use such a tool in my own classroom. The idea was completely new to me and almost entirely dismissed. Hate to sound like an rear end kisser, but really a big thank you to Jeff and Kim for presenting digital storytelling in a more inspiring light. The possibilities are truly endless and more importantly engaging for students.

As a visual learner the power of imagery has never surprised me. That being said I have come to realize that I was not using visual literacy in a manner that was most effective for student learning. PowerPoint presentations were drab and cram packed with too much text and super saturated with long spiels by yours truly. It needs to be concise, to the point and exciting. I’m taking cue from the advertising world. We know that the biggest consumers and most easily influenced are the youth today…the tweeners…the teenagers. Major corporations are more successful than ever before in selling their products to this age group because of excellent advertising campaigns. It’s concise, to the point, memorable and it all involves visuals. So take a picture!

I look forward to seeing what lies ahead in the COETAIL program. Feeling anxious and antsy though about that final presentation to the rest of the class in March. Public speaking ranks about as high as eating lutefisk for me. Looking on the bright side I suppose I could use lots of visual imagery to get my point across and spare you all of my stutters and “umm…umm…ummms…”

Course 3

“Grandma Jo’s Cupcake Blues” – A Digital Story

The possibilities for ways in which to create a digital story truly seem endless. There is an incredible amount of tools available online allowing one to present in any mass variety of ways. This was perhaps the most difficult part of this particular assignment…finding the right tools to use.

Being great big fans of graphic novels, Diana and I aspired to create a digital story that had the feeling of a graphic novel. Initially I felt that perhaps we could use Comic Life. I knew we had it on our school laptops and I had ever so briefly dabbled with it last year. Immediately we realized that this would not give us the audio option that we really wanted. I continued to play with image ideas in Comic Life while Diana laid out the storyboard. As fun as this program is and I can see my student using it down the road, I craved more control over the image altering process, which Comic Life did not provide. Time for more doodling. Photoshop Elements was selected as the weapon of choice to transform our family photos into something more “graphic” like in appearance. Not being super apt in the program it took some time to thumb through all the options searching for just the right tools.

In the meantime Diana had widdled down our virtual story platform options to VuVox and Voice Thread. Diana uploaded the images onto both websites to preview prior to selecting which to proceed with. In the end we liked the way VuVox looked and moved better than Voice Thread, which seemed more like an interactive PowerPoint. Voice Thread is however a very exciting, highly recommended website and tool, but not what we were looking for in this particular project.

VuVox did not have any direct recording options available, but provided us with the option to upload audio. One continuous audio track of Diana and I retelling our embellished story was recorded in GarageBand and then dropped in to iTunes so that it could to be uploaded to the VuVox site and synched up to our images. This would in turn become the bane of our existence. It turns out that individual tracking would have made the process of matching up the timing of the slides and audio much, much more easy on us. VuVox offered us with little helpful information or suggestions on how best to lay down the audio creating lots of trial and error on our parts. Another fatalistic realization of VuVox came towards what we had hoped was the end of having to hear our two-minute short story for the zillionth time. We discovered that when guests had been invited open and view the saved digital story they also had the ability to move slides at there own discretion. This instantly throws off what took us so long to do, the synching of audio and images. VuVox turned out to be much more tricky that we had anticipated and hoped for. So with hands in the air and a white flag waving we surrender for now, but not forever, for VuVox really is a great website. It just requires a little more understanding before presenting it to out students.

Just as the options for ways in which to create digital stories are infinite the possibilities of how they can be used in the classroom are equally as countless. The processes and programs that Diana and I took alone could be used easily in a cross-curricular unit that involves subjects such as Language Arts, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Technology and really even Social Studies if the topic is changed from a family story to one with a historical perspective or background. In the end three programs and websites were used extensively to create our digital story. VuVox.com, Adobe Photoshop Elements and GarageBand. The thought of creating a digital story in this method with students is very exciting and one I am anxious undertake with my co-workers. Hopefully the kids will find the process of telling stories in this manner as enjoyable and challenging as we did!

Have a peak at what we ended up with using VuVox. One you push play it is highly advisable that you steer clear of the highly sensitive slide scroll button! Feel free to provide us with any feedback and suggestions. Thanks!