Book Reviews with 4th Grade

Our 4th graders have been reading the Texas Bluebonnet books over the past few months and they voted on their favorite this week in the library. I’ve been wanting to get the students into VoiceThread and thought creating book reviews might be an easy introduction to the application. So, in the computer lab, we illustrated our favorite choices using MS Paint. The students then wrote their book review using either MS Word or pencil and paper so that they would have a script to read while recording (Much easier than trying to “wing” it!).

Next step was to create a VoiceThread. This is the first time we’ve used this application this year and the students were quick to catch on with uploading and adding titles. Unfortunately, the recording didn’t cooperate. The students learned how to plug in the mics but when they spoke, their voices weren’t picked up. Not sure what the problem was but when you’re in the middle of class, you have to quickly come up with a backup plan!

Fortunately, I happened to have some iPads in the lab. I gathered my tech support helpers for the day, showed them what to do, and had them record their VoiceThread. They were really excited to be “in charge” of helping their classmates sign into the VoiceThread app and guide them through the recording process. Below is one of the book reviews:


On the first day we were only able to get about a third of the class recorded but by today, we had several experts to help speed along the process. I was so proud of how well the students worked together! We had a couple of photographers (see the animoto below), several tech support personnel (every once in awhile, I’d hear someone call, “Tech support! I need some tech support!”), and a scribe (who checked off who had finished recording and sharing their VoiceThread). 


The idea of a VoiceThread is to create conversations. I’d wanted the students to make comments on their classmates’ book reviews but we just ran out of time. Next week I work with another 4th grade class and hopefully we’ll get more accomplished. I hope to meet with my tech support group during recess which should help things move a bit more smoothly during class. I was very pleased with how the students took on their leadership roles – they were truly taking their jobs seriously. My goal is to continue incorporating ways in which students can contribute to their learning.

**The idea of  students as contributors is based on Alan November’s concept of the Digital Learning Farm, Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s Digital Learning Farm and iPad Apps, and Silvia’s presentation of Orchestrating the Collaborative Classroom. These resources are some of the best I’ve ever experienced – I highly recommend taking a look at them.

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