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Author contact: Author Biography: Vicki E.

Phillips is the General Education Coordinator and English Instructor, Rasmussen College, Ocala, Florida I have my degrees primarily in English with an emphasis in Humanities. (B.A. in English with Humanities emphasis (OSU) and M.A. in English (ASU). I have been teaching in the community or four-year colleges for over twenty years now. I found that by using technology in my classes, I could encourage my students to not only do the assigned writing, but could get them to think critically about what they were reading before they started typing papers!
Students respond in weekly entries to instructor created VoiceThreads on a specific assignment. Some examples from our literature anthology are as follows: A short selection from The Things They Carried by Tim OBrien; Fire and Ice by Robert Frost; The Pearl by John Steinbeck; and What Does Theatre Mean to You are just a few that I have created VoiceThreads on to be used in the classroom. Then, as an option to the traditional research paper for a Significant Author project, I allow the students to create their own VoiceThread project. Class or subject area: Introduction to Literature; American Literature; Reading and Writing about Literature Grade level(s): 4 yr. College Literature courses, Community Colleges, High School Specific learning objectives: Identify the elements of fiction, poetry, drama, and literary non-fiction. Interpret the function of these elements in sample literary texts. Recognize, categorize, and explain common literary terminology as well as sample critical approaches to literary genres. Examine how different social and historical contexts shape literary production. Identify common and/or culturally specific themes, viewpoints, and/or biases in literature from different periods and diverse backgrounds. Formulate a reasonable, well-presented, and mechanically acceptable written analysis of literary works across genres, using supporting evidence.

Anniversary Book Project


Using VoiceThreads to Transform a Classroom into a Critical Thinking Platform for Non-Traditional Learners
By: Vicki Phillips Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC-ND

Activity Summary

What Are VoiceTheads A VoiceThread is simply a media presentation that you put together, using PowerPoint slides, original artwork, photos, etc as your background. The difference is that a VoiceThread has the capability of allowing you to add not only your picture and voice, but you can use your camera and microphone to record yourself speaking to the presentation. There are basically five ways to comment on a VoiceThread: computer microphone, text (by typing on your keyboard), telephone, audio file (Mp3 and Wav), and webcam. The magic doesnt stop there. Your students have the same capability. Each participant to the thread is either given a selected icon or they can upload an image or one of the preselected avatars of themselves and then they can respond to the thread in one of the five ways that you created your comments. Other Features How else does it differ from a PowerPoint? PowerPoints allow you to make notations on your slides, but you will find a really neat little feature on VoiceThreads, which allows you (and only you) as the creator to doodle or draw in what appears to the viewer of the thread to be in real time on the presentation. You have a pen icon, which allows you to underline or circle the words or features in the slides or artwork as you are speaking. It takes a little practice when you first get started to have the hold the stylus steady as you are speaking, but it becomes easier each time you utilize it. The really exciting thing about it is how the students respond to the doodles. It seems to hold their attention to the slides and as the pen circles the relevant material, I notice more of my students making notes themselves as they actively engage with the slides. Another by-product of this technology is that it is accessible by not only your students but anyone with an internet connection. You may choose to embed the link or the presentation in your online classes if you teach online, your college portal, or even your own wiki or blog space. Your students can access this presentation from any computer hooked to the Internet. All they need to do is go to and put in your name and any and all threads you create under that identity will pop up. You set the tags (search engine features) when you create the thread, just as you would add tags to any blog or post. I usually set mine by both my course number and my name. That way my students can locate not only the VTs for their particular class, but also take a look at the ones that I developed on grammar and writing skills if they need some additional help in those areas as well. Concerns Some of you may be asking about content and thinking about inappropriate responses by people outside your class, etc. The beauty of a VoiceThread is that you have total control of your thread. You are the creator; you are the admin and also the editor. You select those features when you set up the presentation. You can set up the VT, so that no comment is posted until you approve the comment. You will be notified via email to the email address you set up that you have a new comment on your VT. You then can go in, read the comment, and decide whether or not to allow it to be open to the public. You actually open a little curtain on the icon, which means that it is now available. More Benefits A relatively new feature on VoiceThread is the ability to actually decide the order by which the comments are listed on the sidebars. This is great because research has generally shown that the top comments should be the more substantial comments as those set the bar for the rest.

The commentators icon will appear with their recorded comment alongside the presentation. Each persons comments will pop up on the screen in a sidebar that borders the thread on the left and right columns. I am including one of mine below so you can see the full view:

Now that you can see the possibilities, the next step is up to you. Two other wonderful benefits to Voicethread is that you get to create your first three for free, and best of all, there is no program to buy or install! My advice to you is to watch one of their tutorials. They are really well done, very concise, and extremely easy to follow. Youll be creating your own VoiceThread in thirty minutes or less. Above all, as we tell our students over and over again, be easy about all of this. Have fun with the process and send me your Threads. I would love to hear from you after you try this in your classrooms. For those of you who are saying, Wait a minute, I teach science. How could I possibly use this in my teaching? Then, I would refer you to the Penn State article by Matthew N. Meyer entitled VoiceThread Used for Quick Remediation in Biology 110 (March 9, 2011) located on the VoiceThread for Penn State site at: Lastly, remember that this is a tool that you can teach your students to use this free program as well. Imagine the excitement when you introduce VoiceThread, and they then choose to utilize

a VoiceThread instead of a PowerPoint presentation for the next class project. Imagine then what excitement ensues as they ask their classmates and even family members to participate in their original thread. Now your classroom has definitely blown out the walls of the box. As other engaged learners respond and comment on the thread, your students become not only creators, but also teachers to their peers and an entire global community. You can design group VoiceThread rubrics and parameters to facilitate this as well. If you are nervous about how to grade a VoiceThread, I have created a rubric included below. As your students explore this technology, we are once again reminded that to ultimately create out of knowledge gained is the pinnacle tip of the Bloom pyramid. They have now taken your teachings and expanded it into their own creation and the circle of learning continues as long as their thread remains on the Internet. Some of their creations will be viewed and commented on by people from countries all over the world. It is an exciting world out there for our students and for us as teachers. The world we live in is one full of global opportunities and connections. Now is the time to turn our classrooms into a true global learning experience, and it is easily accomplished with this wonderful technology. For more information on using VoiceThreads in your classroom, please email me at the following address: I also encourage you to check out more of my Voicethreads at . The link below is one I created for one of the artists we are currently studying in the Introduction to Humanities class. The voice comment posted by one of my more reticent (in class) students was extremely rewarding for me to hear. Until this post, I had no idea how much she enjoyed learning about the artist. I leave you with this thought. Be prepared to be surprised and sometimes truly amazed by your students responses. - 968628.b1428334.i7553506 Lastly, I am including a rubric I created for easier grading on the student created VoiceThreads.