Random Thoughts

Explain the experiement

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I have been working with Carol Jordan a science teacher here at my school for most of the year on different projects.

At the beginning of the year she invited me into her IB Theory of Knowledge class (TOK) to give a presentation on the Connectivism Theory of Learning. From that moment on we’ve been working together on a number of projects.

Most recently Carol had her 9th graders create VoiceThread projects and videos about an experiment.

Now this falls in the “doing old things in new ways” category because her purpose was to have students go through the scientific process as usual, but instead of writing up a report she decided to allow them to create VoiceThreads and videos about their experiments still following the same scientific format.

Where this does become interesting is in the difference between the VoiceThread projects and the videos.

The videos allow students to tell the story of the experiment. They recorded the experiment and then afterwards told the story of what they were doing, what they learning and their steps along the way. Still a scientific report just in new media form. One which engages the students in creating something new and different.

The VoiceThreads on the other hand allowed the students to discuss their experiment. Carol and I talked numerous times about how using VoiceThread to capture the conversation of learning was different then just retelling the story, but could still be graded using the same rubric. Carol could watch and listen to the VoiceThreads and grade for understanding of concepts, of the language used, and learn what students where thinking. The conversation was molded into the framework of the scientific process. So students still had to talk about their hypothesis but they did it within a conversation of what they were thinking….allowing the teacher to assess the knowledge gained, the questions students still have, and bring that conversation back to the classroom for clarification and further learning.

What I have enjoyed is the way in which Carol continues to try new ways of engaging students in the experiment process. Sure the students could write up experiment report after experiment report, or they can have the opportunity to report their findings in other ways. Ways that excite them, engage them and keep science from becoming “Not another experiment.”

It’s teachers like this that continue to push themselves and their students in new and exciting directions that gets me out of bed in the morning.

[tags]sas, science, tok, 21st Century Learning]/tags]

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Jeff and Carol, thanks for sharing these student projects! I’m always looking for new ways to deal with the traditional lab report format; it was great to see some actual student examples.

  2. Jane Altemen Reply

    Yes, indeed, Jeff and Carol, thanks so much for sharing! I happened upon your work last night and I changed my lab task today! I showed my chemistry students the examples you so generously shared! We at UNIS Hanoi are an MYP school so my students and I will have to pay close attention to the rubrics but I dont see any limitations. I suppose, like any group work situation, it is tricky to assign authentic grades to individual group members? Have you any tricks for that?

  3. I liked the idea of doing something like this, taking an old method and doing it in a new way. I am not so sure I like the voice thread as much as the video though. I think I like seeing the students putting the extra effort in to the project. The script for the voice thread seems like it would work for a video but you can do more with the video. I can understand sometimes time does not permit for a video and much more effort is required for that. I guess that is when it would be good to use the voice thread instead. Either way they are better then doing a lab report like we are use to, plus both are more entertaining and creative for the students to do.

  4. Pingback: Experimenting with Lab Reports and VoiceThread : Clarify Me

  5. Danielle Kiefner Reply

    That video was great! It is exciting to hear about and see different ways teachers keep students interested and engaged in education. Not only can making videos and voice threads be fun for the students, but it gives them experience expressing themselves verbally. Making the video required knowledge of the scientific method and course material, but it also incorporated use of technology, teamwork, and creativity. The students were having fun while learning, and it is also fun for teachers to see their students engaging in new experiences. It is important to me to allow students to express themselves in different ways and to assess their learning in various ways also. Projects like these should be meaningful to students because they differ from a routine assignment. I will definitely use tools such as videos and voice threads in my classroom, and it is great to see other teachers having so much success with them.

  6. I just blogged about this. Excellent use of technology for telling the story of their experiment!

    I have used voicethreads for students to explain the part in the lab that best explains what they should have learned from it. This makes any lab far different from the routine assignment that it used to be and transforms their learning from just knowledge to that of application.

    I hope that there will be more sharing of great uses of technology. The more educators that share, the better our teaching and using technology becomes.

  7. When I took a look at the Voicethread, I was also thinking that it might be useful to have the students from this school or others leave comments on the experiments. It would give way to discussions instead of another way of a differet way of reporting results. It might work well if it was between two classes working on the same project during different periods of the day in the same school.

  8. Zaharo Hilentzaris Reply

    Personally, I love writing up old fashioned lab reports, but I know that I am a minority. Currently I am a biological education major at Illinois State University and I hold a UTA (undergraduate teaching associate) position at my school. I know first hand that students grow tired of the same boring procedures and lab reports. I believe that what your coworker, Carol Jordan, has done with Voice Threads is innovative and exciting for students. Not only would this method help students learn, but it also gives them hands on experience on different ways to interact and record finding in a laboratory setting. It gives then the experience and excitement of a real scientist and wakes them up to what real science is about. Technology and ideas like these make me excited about my future in teaching.

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