How I Use It
(The following examples align to Common Core Standards SL.3.1c, SL.3.4, SL.3.5, W.3.6, W.3.2, W.3.6, SL.6.1c, SL.6.2, SL.6.5)
Third graders used voicethread to publish how-to stories. They took pictures of each step in their story and narrated it using voicethread. As a formative assessment with an authentic audience, first graders watched the how-to stories that 3rd graders made and tried to follow their instructions. If their instructions were unclear, the first graders made comments and suggestions for how to adjust their instructions. After the third graders edited their stories, they listened to the stories of their peers and left comments on the final published versions. (SL.3.1c, SL.3.4, SL.3.5, W.3.6, W.3.2)
Sixth graders used voicethread as a formative assessment and a reflection. Using voicethread, I asked students to share what they knew about literary elements, and they responded by leaving their comments. This gave me an idea of how much they understood before we began their project so that I could plan my instruction. When the project was over, I left feedback on a voicethread for students about their project, and I asked them to reflect on a few elements by leaving comments to my questions. (W.3.6, SL.6.1c, SL.6.2, SL.6.5)
Voicethread is also a great tool to use with adults. My principal has used voicethread to share budget proposals in order to break down elements on a document that she is sharing, and voicethread gives us the opportunity to ask questions and leave feedback in specific places. It allows everyone to view and comment on their own time, and it gives her a record of questions that she can be sure to address. It's like a flipped classroom for teachers!
I am also using voicethread as a tool in our school's Professional Learning Community. We highlight a 21st century tool of the month, and I create a voicethread where teachers can leave feedback about the pros, cons, and how they are using the tool in their classrooms. It's a great way to keep everyone connected despite their busy schedules!
Cons--it was difficult to have a whole class access voicethread at once. We did not have the paid version which allows for student logins, and that might have made a difference. It was very frustrating for students to get logged out when their whole class was trying to access it simultaneously, especially if they were uploading a lot of pictures for their how-to story. Also, the free version of this program does not allow you to share your voicethread, so when our principal first created a voicethread for us to view about the budget, we were unable to see it until she upgraded to the paid version. Although there is an option for uploading video as well as pictures, I could not get videos to upload to voicethread, even on the paid version.
Voicethread is a very versatile tool that is easily accessible to a wide range of learners. By allowing the option for video, voice, or typed comments, it allows learners to differentiate the way they present information. This is an innovative tool and its pedagogy applications are only limited by the creativity of the user!
The downfall is that if you don't pay for the upgraded version, it is very difficult to have a whole class access it.