Storytelling with VoiceThread
The recordings were done in
groups of two-to-four students who
sat around a table taking turns
recording their stories. After showing each group how the VoiceThread
site worked and creating identities
for each student (something the
site allows you to do easily), I let
students do the recordings on their
own. I felt that putting students in
charge relieved the possible anxiety
of recording their stories with me,
a stranger at the school, and would
increase their sense of ownership of
the project. Furthermore, it helped
some students to know that if they
“messed up” while recording their
stories, they could simply cancel the
recording and try again.
Anjali Balikrishna, grade five.
Recently, I had the opportunity to work with fifth-grade students at W.S.
Ryan Elementary School in
Denton, Texas, on a VoiceThread project. VoiceThread is an online tool to
share images, documents, and videos
and have conversations about them.
The project involved a collaboration
between art teacher Nancy Walkup,
her students, and myself. It was as
much a learning experience for me
as it was for Nancy and her students,
as this was the first time I worked
with a group of young students using
VoiceThread in the classroom.
A School-Wide Collaboration
All in all, the project went smoothly.
I must admit that getting through the
number of students we did in three
days would not have been possible
without the cooperation of classroom
teachers who permitted some of their
students to come to the recording
studio outside of art time, and others
who excused students for returning to
their classrooms late.
One of the unexpected surprises
that occurred during this project was
an interview by a local newspaper
VoiceThread is an online tool
quently, our Voice-
to share images, documents,
ended up on the
and videos and have
front page of the
conversations about them.
also sent students home with the web
address for VoiceThread so that they
were able to share the site with fam-
ily and friends.
To view students’ work and hear
their comments, go to voicethread.
classroom, scanned students’ artwork
so it would be ready to post online.
Creating Childhood Drawings
Students began the project weeks
before my arrival by viewing and discussing the work of Carmen Lomas
Garza, a Texas artist known for
creating paintings of her childhood
memories. Students created their
own childhood memory drawings
and wrote rough and final drafts of
descriptions of their pictures. Cindy
Hasio, a student-teacher in Nancy’s
I arrived at the school early each
morning to set up the recording
equipment. Over the course of three
days we were able to record twenty-six stories to accompany each student’s picture.
We decided to
turn a small reference room in the
a recording studio.
This was beneficial for several reasons: ( 1) a number
of students expressed concern about
having to record their stories in front
of the whole class; ( 2) the small space
of the reference room allowed us to
better control ambient noise during
recordings; ( 3) the recording space
was in close proximity to the artroom; and ( 4) most importantly, the
room we used had an Ethernet connection allowing access to the Web.
Craig Roland is associate professor of art
education at the University of Florida in
Gainesville and an advisory board member for SchoolArts. firstname.lastname@example.org