Voicethread Ups and Downs

The final project for my Coetail Course 5 was to be a Voicethread of my students explaining an addition strategy. Last year I had my students collaborate to create a poster that was uploaded to Voicethread and then wanted each student to share something from the poster.

The posters got uploaded but the voices never got recorded as this was one of the projects that happened after I left in May. Earlier we had done a similar project with multiplication.

That one the students were able to record their voices. When we did this project I was very pleased to be able to send students out in the hallway in their groups and they were able to help one another record and save their voices.

At our first meeting for Course 5 I was unsure what I wanted to do. In talking with Kim Cofino, she recommended that I have the students use manipulatives rather than a poster to show their thinking of the math strategy. That sounded like a good way to show understanding and use technology. I have run into a few snags.

Last week I had the students choose which type of manipulative they would use to explain an addition problem. I paired them up and had them practice how to do a few problems. Also last week Grace Yamato came in and worked with the students on learning to take photos. Our class blog posting about Technology Time is here. So this week I started having students work with their partners to take photos. After looking at some of the photos I ¬†thought it might be easier to let them video tape the explanation. I have run into a problem. I can’t seem to upload the video to Voicethread. I read the explanation and have no idea what I’m doing wrong. I know that I can’t use Chrome to comment on Voicethread. I need to use Safari or Firefox but does the server make a difference for uploading a video? I don’t know anyone else at my school who has used Voicethread as much as I have so I’m not sure where to go for help. I would like to solve this, as I have been encouraging the K and 1 teachers to use Voicethread and they were planning on some videos too. Does it work best to use the webcam built into the computer to record? Would an iPad work better?

Today at our PLC(Professional Learning Community) I was talking with the first grade teacher. She wants to record her students sharing a just right book. As we talked she asked how was the technology changing or improving what she had done in the past when the students shared the book in front of the class. It was so good to have her ask how the technology would transform the learning. Not just think that it would be fun for the students or she could check off that she was using technology. She plans on having the students share books at least three times this year so if they are able to go back and see what they did earlier in the year and hopefully see an improvement in their presentation as well as comment on other students’ books it is improving the learning. Several years ago I used Voicethread with our summer reading program. I had hoped at the time that many of the students would share about their books on the thread that I had made for their grade level. Some of the students did, but a few students and parents created their own threads. One boy created 15 different threads. As an EAL student the improvement he made from the first to the last was very noticeable.¬†The kindergarten class has just started a study of Mem Fox. I suggested to the K teacher that we make a Voicethread of the students sharing their favorite Mem Fox story. I’m excited to be working with the K and 1 teachers on these projects so that as those students come to 2nd grade they will already have an understanding of Voicethread.

There seem to be so many aspects of technology that need to be taught at the beginning of the year to be able to do all the projects that I would like the students to be working on. I know they will get there, but sometimes I wish they were already there with their knowledge of technology so we could spend more time on the content.

9 thoughts on “Voicethread Ups and Downs

  1. Hi Jean,

    It sounds like you are doing some really amazing things with VoiceThread in your classes! We here at VoiceThread would love to hear more about what you are doing and to help resolve some of the technical questions you have. Please feel free to contact our team at support@voicethread.com. We would be happy to help!

    Kind regards,
    Sadie

    • Dear Sadie,

      Thank you. I think I have found some of the problem. I was trying to export directly from iPhoto but have realized that I need to export to another program and then import it to Voicethread. If I continue to have difficulty I will be contacting the support team at voicethread.

  2. Hey Jean!

    Interesting… I’m in the process of using Voicethread as a tool for students to share artifacts of personal/cultural/family importance and talk/write/record their thoughts about why and how these artifacts represent ways in which their lives have been enriched. A huge obstacle I have come across is that Voicethread will allow for only so many multiple computers using the same login details. As my students do not have their own email addresses, we are all operating under one account. I wonder if you encountered this challenge as well and if so, how you worked around it…

    Thanks for the post!

    Jamie

    • Jamie,

      I have been uploading all the photos and videos on my computer, my iPad or the classroom computer so that is only 3 devices and haven’t run into the problem you mentioned. It is possible to create accounts for the students without an email account. I did a few years ago, and just had to create an email even if it wasn’t a real one. But that is really complicated and I found out when I wanted to take those students off then I needed to switch to parent’s email addresses or things might be deleted. Didn’t quite understand, so now I have a separate identity each year. We have a class mascot, Brisky, and I use his photo and the year the class will graduate as a new identity and have the students comment through him. If parents create an account the students should be able to comment on what you create at school. You might be able to share with them and they could upload from that account that is tied to their parents’ email. I know one of the other teachers was trying to use Voicethread and had created some sample threads and then went to have the students do one and got the message that she had reached her limit of 5 free ones. I have a paid subscription and that helps. My friend actually ended up using iMovie and was happy with the result and since it is posted on her blog the parents and students can comment about it on the blog. I like Voicethread but I am still learning the best uses and how to best use it with the students.

      Jean

  3. Hi, Jean,
    Thanks for sharing. I saw both of your Voice Thread (VT) above and like the second one a lot — posters with your students’ audio-explanations. Their doodlings are great, too. It’s easy for listeners/us to follow their pictures where we supposed to look at.

    Do you share with your class and/or school community? What are their reactions? I am sure your students received positive notes.

    At the beginning of course 5, you showed me your VT account. And a part of the reasons, I also start using VT. I am trying — a first year VT teacher. And so far, my online students enjoy learning by doing the projects on VT.

    I look for more of your students’ masterpieces!

    Reiko (^_^)

    • Thanks Reiko,

      I have them on my class blog. Haven’t had many comments from parents or the students. We are working on subtraction strategies and the students will be evaluating how they have done and if they are improving. I’m learning more about Voicethread and really enjoyed having my students make one about a recent field trip. We’ve also been working on writing books using Storyrobe.http://makingiteducational.edublogs.org/2012/11/10/books-we-made-for-bible/ They’ve been challenging and I’m looking forward to having the students reflect on their book and another book on Monday.

      Thanks for the encouragement,
      Hope all is going well with your VT.

      Jean

  4. Glad you found the solution to the video upload problem! It’s always tough at the beginning of the year to pick and choose which tools will be the most effective and to get students off on the right foot. You’re doing a great job honing in on skills you know were important last year. Just think of where they will be by the end of the school year!

    • Kim,
      I am looking forward to seeing where the students will be and the students coming up each year as the other teachers feel more confident and use more technology in their classrooms.
      Jean

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