Voice Thread - Create - Share - Assess

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This past year, while I was taking Integration of Technology Part 1, I discovered a great new tool - Voice Thread.  In general, when I explore a new web tool I follow inquiry process.   My overall question when I begin to learn  about the tool is how can I apply this in the classroom?  My learning then goes as follows:  read an overview of the tool, explore the tool, become frustrated because the tool is not doing what I expect it to do, find someone who knows about the tool and ask questions.  As I explored Voice Thread, or VT, last year I decided to try and use it with my class as a diagnostic tool.  I created a VT for my class and shared it.  Then my frustration began.  First, my class could not find it, then I received an e-mail from a teacher asking if I shared something with her.  She told me that she was exploring with VT as well and shared and let me know that I had shared the video within the board.  I realized that I needed to find someone who could share the basics of VT.

After learning the basics about VT, here I am ready to reboot for the following year.  My teaching partner, Chantelle Davies and I are planning to use VT as a class tool.  One idea we have discussed is for a couple of students to be recorders of the week’s learning.  As VT allows creators to use images, videos and text, the idea is for the students to capture key learning ideas of the week and share it with the class.  With this single idea, students can create, share and be assessed.

The nice thing about VT is that it addresses a variety of learning styles and can be used to capture students knowledge in a creative way.  VT allows the user to read text and see images (Visual Learner), listen to comments (Auditory Learner) and engages students through the use of technology (Kinesthetic Learner).  It allows struggling writers the opportunity to share their knowledge orally.  This allows students a differentiated way of sharing their knowledge.  Think of the success and confidence a student might show if they were given this tool as opposed to a pencil and paper when given a reading response question.  

As students use this tool to share their knowledge comments can be created by peers and teachers.  As stated in previous blogs, comments should lead to new learning or should lead to questions.  VT leads to open dialogue and the opportunity to observe other student work.  This makes each student more accountable and leads to deeper understanding of content.  A student can post work that is not complete and ask for feedback or comments that may improve the work.  As comments are added it is easy for those with access to see if the student uses the feedback and makes changes to the work as they continue with the task.  

If the tool is used for open dialogue and the tool is used to record learning then it becomes easy for the teacher to see the learning that has occurred over time.  As VT has the ability to allow others to comment, a teacher can give feedback as the student creates new VTs. We know that many times students either ignore written comments or need clarification because they are unable to read my writing.  VT offers a more personal approach by allowing the teacher to video oneself while giving a comment/feedback.   A more personal connection is made if a student is able to hear the audio or see the teacher.  Over time, a learning portfolio can be created as the student adds new work and builds upon comments and feedback.  Students can also comment individually about the growth they had in their learning and make suggestions of next steps for themselves.  As the student records thoughts and reflections the teacher can observe the growth and also comment on strengths and needs.  

So where does this leave us in our inquiry process?  We are back to reading more about the tool before we dive back into trying to create a VT.  In our recent readings we have found a few links with some interesting ideas of how to use VT in the class. The first link is to the blog Teaching Without Walls by Michelle Pacansky-Brock.  The blog post gives the basics about VT and offers video tutorials. The second link is to NED’S KEEPER by Lea Anne Daughtry.  This blog post offers a list of suggestions of how to use VT in the classroom.  

Chantelle and I would be interested to hear your experiences with VT.  What creative way have you used it the classroom?

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