Teacher Review For VoiceThread

Simple way to have students create podcasts and/or demonstrate visual literacy

Kathleen G.
Classroom teacher
California State University Fresno
Fresno, CA
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My Subjects English Language Arts
My Rating 4
Learning Scores
Engagement 5
Pedagogy 5
Support 3
My Students Liked It Yes
My Students Learned Yes
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time 5-15 minutes
Great for Creation
Further application
Student-driven work
Great with Advanced learners
Low literacy
How I Use It
I use VoiceThread as a way for students to "publish" writing rather than just as an app that serves as a podcast. Here are some things to keep in mind about using VoiceThread. Make sure to talk about the difference between written and spoken words--so students must grapple with the demands of the rhetorical context. I ask students to brainstorm, research, and write a script. Once they've completed these tasks, they can record their voice (we talk about inflection, speed, etc.) and then find visual images to accompany the text. We usually need to talk about fair use and Creative Commons so that students know what is appropriate in using images from the web. A second way I use VoiceThread is as one of several options to present their thinking. With my university students, I can usually set them loose to figure out VoiceThread on their own. However, I try to point them towards one or two examples that I think are really effective so they know what they should aspire to produce. And I remind them of both the support tools on the website and the videos they can find on Google related to making a VoiceThread. Third, I've used it a couple of times to introduce a topic to students. I either created my own VoiceThread or found one to use from other teachers/students. My students seemed to enjoy this new variation on class instruction.
My Take
I like how easy VoiceThread is to use (for someone with a Macbook--not sure how easy it is for a PC user). It's very sequential, so it may not work for every learner in the classroom--but it could be used to help students establish chronology or to allow them to make connections between words and visual images. So many contemporary students have grown accustomed to having visuals that I think VoiceThread is more engaging for them. And for those interested in Spoken Word, VoiceThread is a medium they can use to practice their skills and try out different approaches to performance. I think this website provides a good way to synthesize and/or present learning. However, I think that the teacher who doesn't scaffold risks getting products that are associative, tangential, or even nonsensical. Students might not understand the importance of reading with inflection--or they might just sit down and record whatever comes out of their mouths. That might be fine sometimes, but I'd certainly want students to create more thoughtful and polished work.