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Book Review: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park from C Vidor
VoiceThread showcases information and images about the geography, history, setting, and themes of Linda Sue Park's Newbery award winning book, A Single Shard. The book takes place in ancient Korea, a time and place that may be unfamiliar to many readers. This VoiceThread aims to make these elements a bit more familiar to students with brief explanations and interesting images. The VoiceThread also suggests ways in which some themes of the book are evident in the story's imagery. Where appropriate, I have included questions to help students make comparisons and contrasts between their own lives and the experiences of the characters in the book. I think this VoiceThread will help students build up a bank of visual images and concepts that can help their comprehension and understanding of the text.
As the first book by a Korean American author to win a Newbery award, A Single Shard is a glimpse in to a part of the world (ancient Korea) that is completely new to many of its readers, as it was to me when I first read it. Knowing how much of a difference background knowledge makes for a student's understanding of a text, I tried to select the images and concepts that I think are most essential for young readers to know about. I read many of the resources listed at the Korea Academy for Educators (http://www.koreaacademy.org) and participated in their Summer 2009 program in order to gather the information I needed to write the narration. After completing the script, I gathered non-copyrighted images from the web, keeping track of sources as I went. Because I wanted text included as a part of each VoiceThread image, I created a powerpoint of my images with their captions and titles, then used Grab to create the slides that I would then upload to VoiceThread. (My original p lan was to refer to image sources in the narration, but I found that this broke up the flow of the narration and decided instead to include the URL for each image source within the slide as part of the image--thus, the need for powerpoint in order to re-format each image on a background with the image source URL underneath.)
My biggest breakthrough with VoiceThread on this project was purchasing a small external microphone. Previously, I had been using my laptop's internal microphone, which records an annoying fan sound along with the narration. Best $20.00 I ever spent. I still needed to re-record many of my comments in order to eliminate an annoying sing-song habit! Throughout this project I kept notes on a list of suggestions for teachers. I wrote those up in a single document and uploaded it at the end along with the picture credits and slide notes. I also included an acknowledgments slide to highlight the people and resources who were of most help in the creation ! of the VoiceThread. The inclusion of acknowledgments and picture credits models academic integrity for the students. As always, the process of uploading the images and documents was a breeze. I did some re-arranging of slides--which also necessitated some numbering changes in the picture credits.
To gain an introductory knowledge of some of the geography, history, setting, and themes of A Single Shard.
Be able to locate Korea on a map; know that it became two separate countries after World War II; know that it has an ancient and rich history of cultural and historical accomplishments.
- State some of the particular cultural highlights of the Koryo period (during which A Single Shard takes place).
- Remember and imagine what some key images from the book look like: the potter's hut, celadon ware, rice fields, mountains.
- Discuss how the themes of food, scholarship, artistry, and courage are expressed in the book.
- Compare and contrast elements of own life with that of the characters'.
Challenges or setbacks
The easiest part of the project was uploading the images and recording the narration once it was written. As always for me, the most challenging part was to create a narration that was substantive enough to give adequate information on each image, while still remaining accessible for a middle school audience.
- Youtube video converter
- Digital recorder
- External microphone
Spend the time upfront writing the narration. Everything else flows from that. Unless you are unusually talented at extempore comments, it is easier to have a script.
I think the quality of my script benefited from what I learned about Korean history and culture from doing the background reading and participating in a professional development opportunity (Korea Academy for Educators) -- I think the more you can learn about the topic of your script the better it will be.
This VoiceThread could be used to introduce A Single Shard as a class book. It could also be used during or after the students read the book as a part of discussing the themes and character development.
The structure of this VoiceThread could also be used as a model for creating other VoiceThreads to introduce books for class reading and discussion. The basic organization is: geography, history, setting, theme, acknowledgments, and picture credits.