Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 4 - VoiceThread

Welcome back!  Have you picked up on the theme of this week’s challenges?  Each tool focuses on communication and collaboration.  The deliberate grouping of tools aligns with National Educational Technology Standards called the NETS for students.  There are also NETS for teachers, administrators and coaches, which are published by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).  Your blog comments are touching on most all of the five teacher standards and the fifth standard, Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership, is really at play.  We are thrilled that so many educators have committed to participating in this learning community and we are enjoying your reflections as we explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning. So on to today’s challenge!

VoiceThread engages students in discussions in a non-traditional way and became a favorite resource after colleague Matt Etienne asked me to check it out.   I saw the full potential of this tool when fellow coach, Richard Roll, shared how he and others were using VoiceThreads at Glenwood Leadership Academy. Since then I’ve used it as a student and must say it’s a powerful means for sharing peer reviews.

  
What is VoiceThread exactly?
It is a web application that allows you to use different types of media to create an interactive slideshow.  You can use pictures, videos, documents, or even presentations to build the VoiceThread but the real magic happens when you and your students record audio or text comments that respond to each slide.  You can even draw right on the slide to demonstrate your ideas.  The collaboration doesn't have to stop in your classroom either.  VoiceThreads can be private and yet selectively shared for cross-collaboration.

Get Started by Opening an Account:
  1. Go to  VoiceThread.com and Click Sign in or Register on the upper right of the screen.   
  2. When the new page loads, click Register on the left.  Enter all your information. 
  3.  When finished, click the Products tab and go to K12.   
  4. Then click Single Educator.   
  5. Scroll down to the chart showing the VT Educator option.  You can see all the free upgrades that you get with this distinction.  Click Apply at the bottom.  Fill out the requested information. (Within 24 hours you should get a message confirming it was processed.)
Once you create an account in VoiceThread you have access to a complete library of very well done tutorials including the comprehensive Introduction to VoiceThread.  If you don’t have a lot of time, one tutorial that a classroom teacher may be interested in is “Comment Moderation!” which demonstrates how to preview a comment before allowing it to be visible on the thread.  There are also tons of teacher created resources on the web.  I use Diigo, a social bookmarking tool, for saving webpages that I find useful.  Here is my list of resources on VoiceThread that you can refer to for more ideas and information.

I’ve created a very basic VoiceThread for you to test out. (Notice I embedded it below; it was super easy to do!)  I encourage you to get in there and try it out! 


Step 1: Click Comment, which will prompt you to log into VoiceThread.  Once you've done that you'll see your "Identity" in the lower left corner.

Step 2: To add a text comment to the first slide, click Type and begin typing in the comment box.  When you are finished hit Save. Your identifier will pop up next to the slide when complete.  You can preview it or move on.  If you want to add a recorded comment you can do that too.

Step 3:
If you are not automatically forwarded to the next slide, you can click the arrow on the right. Here's your chance to try out the Doodle Tool.  Click Type which will bring up a color wheel. 

Click on the color of your choice and you can begin creating your jack o' latern. Hit save when you're done. Click on the center of the palette to keep the drawing from fading out.





















Your assignment:
Identify an assignment or activity that you ask students to complete that could be transformed by introducing a VoiceThread instead. How do you think the change could impact student engagement?  What support would you or your students need to get started?  Share what you're thinking in a comment.

52 comments:

  1. I think this could be a really cool tool to help with a flipped classroom. This website has all the resources needed to make a frontloading video all in one place.
    I could also see using this for both my math and chemistry classes when it comes to showing students example problems. If students are struggling with their homework, they can pull up a voice thread of me doing more example problems than we did in class. This way, the students who need the extra help can have it while the students who get the concept can move on.
    Really cool website, already signed up for my account!

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  2. This is really interesting to me!!! In my inclusion classroom, I have several students that could benefit from an alternative assessment like this.

    First, the ability to record their voice instead of writing eliminates a barrier to their learning. When a student is asked to respond to a question, are we evaluating their ability to write? Or their ability to identify an answer to a question? Sometimes we do want to grade their writing abilities, but often we want to see how they respond. So talking allows them to focus on the answer without being burdened by the writing component which they fear and distracts them from the real task.

    Secondly, it builds on public speaking skills without having them in front of the class. True, they will need that skill and experience, but many are scared and allow that fear to keep them from delivering a clear message verbally before a class. This could be a bridge to speaking in front of a crowd.

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  3. I like Molly's idea of using this to provide learner instruction from other learners. They don't need any fancy software (ie screen recording) and all the netbooks have webcams and microphones on them. Great, great idea.

    I know from other educators, that this is a great tool for elementary classes as well, especially because they can draw on top of what you're doing.

    It is really tempting as the teacher to want to direct the conversation, but Voice Thread takes that control away from us. I would really encourage you to post something (some kind of discussion starter) and let the learners run with it. You might be surprised at some of the comments and thoughts that turn up...

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  4. The first lesson that comes to mind for me as I draw on the pumpkin is using a coordinate plane and having students draw transformations of shapes. They could use the recorder or text to explain the process as they show the refection, translation, or rotation they are doing. By using this tool in class beforehand, I think students would be quick to pick up on how to use the simple buttons to add comments.

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  5. I am getting ready to have my 8th grade general music class explore various legal ways to obtain music online. My plan was to have them create a presentation with their findings in Google Docs and then present in class, but I could have them use VoiceThread instead. They could use the recorder to talk about the pros and cons of the site they researched. Then they could view each other's VoiceThreads online rather than presenting them in class.

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  6. I have been working on teaching my students how to make book trailers for the books we are reading in class. VoiceThread will be a great tool as my students create their trailers. I didn't know something like this existed.

    The netbooks have already been invaluable in my classes. These daily challenges are going to help strengthen the student assignments and projects. Each day I am sharing a snippet of what I am learning and the excitement is building. They are coming up with some great ideas for uses in our classroom.

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  7. It's been a slow morning but the richness of the ideas being shared more than make up for it!

    Molly, while you can demonstrate more examples in a screencast, the added plus of using VoiceThread is that the students can share what they are getting-have a slide for them to solve and then you can follow their process and redirect as needed. Better yet, a classmate might help catch a peer's misunderstanding and show a new way of learning! Brian alluded to this!

    Kara, you might even create just one VoiceThread for the whole class to comment on. Students could submit their "slide" and those files could be uploaded into one VoiceThread.

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  8. Kuddos to Mrs. Esparza for being the first to add to the VoiceThread!

    Please overlook the low level prompts that I used. Or better yet, share high level questions that could have been used. Really, I just wanted everyone to have a chance to get in and experiment with VoiceThread.

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  9. I love this! I am thinking about using this next year, for Red Ribbon Week. I could post writings that the students have written, along with door decorationg contests, etc. It would be a great way to share what is going on in the school.

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  10. I am loving this tool!!! I teach biology and anatomy and both courses are very visual. I love the idea of inserting images and having students work in groups to act out phases. We could easily do this with mitosis and meiosis. I browsed some of the other voicethreads created by others and saw an anatomy voice thread where students were given a skeletal structure and they had to draw on the muscle while they recorded the function of the muscle. I thought this was a really great idea.
    My only concern I have is how easy it is to work the program on the netbooks. I want to take some time to look at the program through my students eyes and see how it will function for them. Some of the programs and tools I find work great on my large computer screen, but sometimes students struggle with the smaller screen on their netbooks.
    Has anyone used this on the netbooks?

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  11. @Jennifer-
    I've found the same issues...things look great to me, but then they can hardly see things on their tiny screens. Is there a way teachers can get (or borrow) netbooks so we can cross-check what we're trying to do and adjust BEFORE we run into problems?

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  12. I might use this site to have students share their experiences about participating in such projects as The Stock Market Game or Bungee Barbie. I believe students sharing their authentic thoughts and experiences would be extremely helpful for students getting ready to begin these activities. It would be a really valuable resource to use to introduce a new activity or project, especially if the creator(s) was another student!

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  13. One thought I had for VoiceThread was that it would be fun to have students create a progressive story or poem based on a series of visual prompts. I could provide the pictures, or the kids could be responsible for that.

    Another idea woud be to post a single picture, but assign all students to write a short poem inspired by the picture and post a recording of their poem.

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  14. I usually teach my grade 4-6 students about consumer awareness. One of the projects asks the students to create their own commercial. They design their product, write a script, and choose a jingle and/or mascot. This would be a great way to produce the commercials.

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  15. Neat tool, I could use it to have students listen to a recording and then add comments about what they heard.

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  16. I have tried voice thread before, but it was just an experiment. It is good to see what students know by them explaining with words and writing. The had part is, when students access this on their netbooks, it is hard for them to write with the little mouse pad.

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  17. Neato! I am going to try this with my higher level kids that have compacted out of the topic we are working on. I have all kinds of projects in mind that they could do to take the topic further. :)

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  18. I just did this last night for the first time. In my masters class we have to respond weekly to a discussion question on a discussion board. We normally just do it on the board but this time our professor utilized this. It was neat hearing voices to go with names I was very aprehensive at first. Good thing is you can preview, delete, and try again before the final post. I think I had to do about 10 takes before I liked what I heard. I think I sound very different on the recording than what I do in speaking but maybe not. I think the kids will like hearing their own voice. This will also help with speaking skills. I will have my daughter try it for rehearsing her speech for speech club. I just did a writing prompt to go with our story My Diary From here to there and the students were moving and had only 1 suitcase. They had to tell me where they were going and why, what they were taking and why, etc. I could see this being cool for them to produce their writing via audio instead of just on the computer or doing a final draft. I also feel that the SPCED kids would like this better than having to write something out. I did not realize that there was a drawing feature. I like that and can see the students thinking that was cool. NEED NETBOOKS or something I can do it on. We have DINOSAUR computers in our lab.

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  19. I like the abiity to add voice to this tool. I make up fun rhymes and raps to help kids memorize terms and formulas in math. My class is now making up their own songs/rhymes for different topics. This would be a great way to build strategies and include everyone.

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  20. I am planning a fairy tale unit for my seventh grade students and had planned on having them create a remake of their favorite fairy tale. This would be a wonderful addition to that unit. I could have the students create their illustrations and story, but then have them record their voices to make the story come alive. It would really personalize the book and give the students practice with their reading and speaking skills!

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  21. My first idea for this was to have students write or speak for the characters in a scene/picture. Kids could work together to continue the dialogue.

    I agree with Susan about the difficulty of writing with the mouse pad, especially for little hands.I also agree w/John Wells's thoughts on using this with inclusion kids. The ability to speak, rather than type or write, showcases what kids really think, and they will be uninhibited!

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  22. I really enjoyed looking at some of the sample pieces on the website: guess the movie (fun) and a bully proof piece (with several simple messages for dealing with bullies and simple student actors demonstrating the ideas!) This would be great for elementary students. I know this is an educational tool but it would be so much fun to take the time to make a voice thread with family memories - to record not just the pictures but actual comments from the people in the pictures! I would have loved to have something like this with the voices and comments of my grandparents.

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  23. Could somebody tell me how to get rid of the trash can!??

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  24. I like Tim's idea a lot, because after watching the tutorials, that is the exact type of thing i was thinking about. With my work I could easily post various types of images (people/places/scenes/etc) and ask teachers to react to the images based on their perceptions and talk about the ladder of inference, and to think together about what other 'running tapes' we could create for ourselves about groups of people (particularly groups our students represent) that would give us more informed perceptions. I also like using this software to do "I AM" poems with teachers (look here for an example: http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson391/I-am-poem.pdf) -whereby they could do voice threads over images they select that capture their personalities, or help them use them with kids to do the same thing and help build relationships/talk about culture, etc.

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  25. This is definitely one I am going to try with my computer club. Looks like a fun way to get them involved and creative!

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  26. I really like that you can add in a personal voice. I can see this used with those students who may not be the strongest writers, but can verbally express their thoughts. The younger students are also very into hearing their own voice on activities. What a great way to motivate them, inspire them and teach them all at the same time.

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  27. I can see using this for a student that could not be in class for several days. The lesson or assignment could be recorded for the student to view. If the student had any questions, they might make a comment back to look for further guidance with the lesson.

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  28. I loved this. I could see students using this to work math problems collaboratively on the computer (problems like graphs and figures or problem solving problems). I could play back each student's drawings or comments to see what their thinking was. I think it would increase student involvement because it is not on paper. Ever since the netbooks, students hate paper and pencil assignments. I could make the assignments online with this, but only after a lot of modeling and in class work with it. I would start with some simple tasks and increase the difficulty over time.

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  29. I love Kara's idea for a project about obtaining legal music. I would love to see the finished project when students are finished! I'm not a math teacher but I wonder if you could post a problem, equation, etc and have students work on it together. Also, maybe a great way for students to explain and 'narrate' a book plot. A lot of similar ideas already explored above - a late post tonight!

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  30. This looks like a great tool to use for Professional Development. It can be used as a way to provide some PD on material or as a refresher after the training.

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  31. I tried this in class today and we couldn't get images to upload to the thread. Has anyone else experienced problems with this? I was having problems on my computer and on the netbooks. Thanks!

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  32. I had similar problems yesterday. I think it could be the file size???

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  33. This would be a good way for students to retell a story. It could also be used to practice reading fluency. I can't wait to explore this more.

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  34. This would be great to use to help students with creative writing who have so many great stories in their heads but have so much trouble writing or typing it.

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  35. I taught a class with a student who was in another county and she joined the class each week by Skype. I also love the idea of Skype pushing cultural boundaries by allowing classrooms to reach across the globe and learn from each other.

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  36. Another easy to use tool...
    http://voicethread.com/share/2381069/

    Modeling is a powerful strategy and the possibilities are endless for using voice thread to demonstrate to students what you want them to do. It would certainly be something unique and like the brain research indicates - catch their attention.

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  37. I think the voice thread would be great for having students expain how to do math problems.

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  38. Just thinking about how difficult it is to teach students how to mark text. This seems like a great way to display text, read and model for students what you're thinking and noticing, and then demo marking the important text. We need to try this at Fairlawn!

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  39. I could see using this to demonstrate a math process. Having student voices giving the steps might be powerful for students to use when they are working independently.

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  40. This is a tool I've needed for a long time! Especially since I've been teaching my upper level Japanese classes as "flipped classrooms" for a few years now.
    I'm actually going to try to use this tomorrow (Tuesday) with my 4th year students to see how they like it. I'll be introducing new grammar patterns. We often have to mark text in sentences so this is a great tool to deomonstrate that without having to create a podcast. They often feel left out since they are combined with a first year class and it's such a time constraint to have direct instructional time with them.
    I could also use this for culture discussions in class when I'm working with another group of students.

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  41. I love this tool!

    In my classroom, I have started to do peer critiques of video productions. For the past 2 assignments, I have created a form and students have dropped the forms in an Angel dropbox. I have then created a portfolio for each group to read.

    With this tool, each student could watch the video and give real time feedback that we could then discuss together. Is there any way to make comments anonymous?

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  42. I could really see this being useful in the planning stages of group projects, allowing students to work together without being in the same room

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  43. I really like this program. I especially like how you can draw on the slide while you are talking. It would be very useful for students and teachers. I have used powerpoint where you record narative to go along with the slide but this works much better and is more interactive.

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  44. I am super excited about this one. I hope it is as easy as it looks. I think I will first try it for book reviews. On a side note, I love Cathy V's idea of sharing what we are learning in the challenge with her students and getting their feedback...going to steal that idea!

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  45. This is cute. May take some getting used to, but I could see myself using this in the classroom. Since we have recently been working on sound recognition, I would love to see something dealing with the alphabet and pictures to go along with it. I'm sure the kids get tired of worksheets and flashcards! :)

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  46. I thought the voicethread was really neat, but I am not sure how I could use it math. The only idea would be having students explain the process of solving a problem at hand or maybe their beginning approach at solving a given problem. I think this would be really cool to use with literature and creating stories. I probably should be doing what Cathy Voelker is doing and sharing these web tools with my students....they could come up with how to use them in mathematics.

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  47. A coworker used Skype last year to connect her classroom with another class at an elementary school. The kids loved the interaction and it was a success.
    I would like to take it a step further and use it with a class from another state. I have a contact in Tuscon, Arizona, that would like to Skype with our class. We are considering a unit where we have the kids read the same novels and then share thoughts and ideas through Skype. We have also talked about a research project that connects our communities.
    I love this idea and will share as we work out the details.

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  48. I found some examples of science VoiceThreads here: http://voicethread.com/#q.b47425.i0.k0

    This gave me ideas of how I could use VoiceThread for a lab report. I also think it could work well to ask the problem of the day, and have the students comment with their answers.

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  49. Foe key vocab words: Students can be put into small groups. Each group is randomly assigned a vocab word. Each group could "teach" the class about their assigned word.

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  50. Like Marie had posted, I could see using this to teach vocabulary to introduce a story. I could post the words and possibly pictures that go with each. The students could get in small groups and add comments regarding what they think each of the meanings are. In addition, I always have students act out each meaning with gestures and at some point in the week to give me sentences using the words. They could type these in or record them to create a final product we could add to each day. This could be an easy way to review the words each day. Is there any way for students to add photos and/or videos for all to see? If so, they could add these in as well. I think the students would love the interactive sense of the assignment and be more engaged as well as taking more pride in their work as everyone will see it.

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