K-12 Curriculum Development

Blended Intergenerational High School Voicethread Planning in Nashville

Last fall TMS established a “blended” (in-person + online) professional development relationship to develop a Voicethread unit plan for student multimedia productions involving participation from older adults in the community with English classes of Elizabeth Smith at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet, a public high school in Nashville, TN.  Hume Fogg has been recognized as a national Blue Ribbon school by the USDOE, and ranked the 49th best public school in the country by US News & World Report, which meant that the existing project plans that Elizabeth brought for us to work media literacy concepts and digital media tools into were already chock-full-of rigor and creatively designed.

Blended planning

Elizabeth and I were connected through her involvement with The Generation Connection camp (TGC), which TMS has collaborated with for 9 years. Our blended relationship began with a face-to-face meeting in Nashville to brainstorm ways that TGC, TMS and Hume Fogg could create a project that would incorporate media literacy concepts into a high school English project that involved older adults in the community as collaborators and resources for the students.  After getting a feel for each other in person, we continued developing the project over the phone, co-editing planning documents in Google Docs (left), and within projects (below).

Intergenerational Collaboration within Schools

TGC’s mission is to faciliate reciprocal mentoring between youth and older adults to build community, and create meaningful relationships between often isolated groups within the same community.  We planned to match small student production groups with older adults from the community as a resource and collaborator.  The “reciprocal” element would involve students teaching older adults Voicethread skills and schooling them in social media online collaboration, which is second-nature to them, while older adults would offer their generation’s research methods, and in some cases first-hand experinece related to the projects, or knowledge of how readings of the classic novels the projects are connected to have changed over the years.  As we’ve seen through TGC  Due to the logistics of background checks, and scheduling challenges, the intergenerational collaboration did not materialize this time around, but will remain a part of the unit plan for 2012-13 school year at Hume Fogg.

Voicethread “Case” Productions around Classic Novels

Step 1: Intro project for teacher & students to get acquainted with Voicethread

Students first completed mini projects to get acquainted with the Voicethread process defending the relevance of In Cold Blood for an AP English Curriculum: Here’s the assignment (Google Doc):

Step 2: Larger-scale projects requiring specific multimedia elements

[Elizabeth, would you like to give a sentence or two about the objective of the assignment?  And a description of the showcase you guys did at the end to culuminate?  Did you have a rubric for analyzing the work?]

Meta Documentary plan (Google Doc)

Media literacy value amplified by the assignment, made possible by Voicethread

The strength of these projects from a media literacy perspective are in the specific requirement of students to communicate and persuade through a combination of media in an online environment.  Students must decide where to get quality information to complete their “case” assignment, and synthesize that information by communicating what they learned through a combination of video, documents, and images in Voicethread.  Voicethread allowed the incorporation of whatever media the students chose to produce, and allowed collaboration to take place asynchronously as well as in person in class.  It also allows for student or teacher and peer interaactive review through the commenting feature.