Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Voicethread in the Classroom

Since I first discovered Voicethread a few years ago, I've been trying to introduce it to teachers in my Board.  Why?  The Growing Success document (Ontario policy on Assessement and Evaluation) has a pronounced emphasis on Assessment FOR Learning.  That means, that we need to find a variety of ways for teachers to assess student learning to inform instruction. Voicethread provides three (free) ways for students to respond to you and to one another:  text, audio, video.   Even after learning about new, awesome tools, Voicethread is still my favourite.

So often, we try one tool and have it quickly replaced by another with better features. Voicethread works for our students in applied courses and with ESL learners. Quite frankly, it would work well for any learner.

This is a tool that is NOT a passing fad. 

Because it's been around for a while, there are so many ideas already out there for using Voicethread.  Check out this shared document called 25 Ways to Use Voicethread in the Classroom  and a collaborative effort posted by Richard Byrne: 100 Ways to Use Voicethread in the Classroom.  Collette Cassinelli has a great slideshare presentation about the advantages of using Voicethread to collaborate and create--check it out on the sidebar.  There is also a Wikispace dedicated to Voicethread which has hundreds of shared projects.  The Browse pages within Voicethread itself provide a wonderful cross-section of examples.  Their virtual Guides are useful and easy to follow.

Voicethread for ESL students 

I have been co-planning and co-teaching with an ESL teacher.  The students were very shy at first, but appreciated the fact that they could re-record their voices until they were happy with how they sounded.

First, we explicitly taught the kids the features of Voicethread using a sample Voicethread.  There are a variety on the website.   What we really wanted, was for this very small class to fee CONNECTED to other students in the Board.  We created an Introduction to Voicethread VT which would allow for students across our school board to connect with one another.  Here is a copy of what this looks like.  The actual VT has only been shared within our classes.

We also spent some time talking about what online posts (oral or written) should look like (net-etiquette) which is an absolute MUST.

The students are enjoying the tool so much that the teacher has since created two other lessons using Voicethread, and for their CPT, students will create a Voicethread portfolio.  Can't wait to see what that looks like!

What are some media messages about women and what can we do about them? 

The lesson explores a variety of texts that show negative media messages and focuses on a poem.  Students are then encouraged to write a letter to a company to express their opinion about the negative media messages they are sending.  The Voicethread provided us with the opportunity to gauge whether or not students understood how to interpret meda texts and how effectively they were making inferences.

What is it like to be homeless?

This lesson explores a poem by Dionne Brand and the Voicethread consolidates students' understanding of imagery.  The Voicethread itself uses a poem  by Raymond Souster.

Lesson and link to Voicethread

"What are the environmental costs of a sinking ship?"

This Voicethread, explores the Costa Concordia cruiseship accident and what the potential for further tourist exploration in the Arctic might mean.  Though this was never actually taught as a lesson, it is an example of how we can use current events as a springboard for discussion.


The possibilities are endless.

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