As any teacher could probably attest to, kids have an unrelenting desire to interact with each other. In the recent past, this would have mostly been observed as physical interactions, such as talking when the teacher wasn't looking, playing on playgrounds, passing notes in class, going to the bathroom in pairs and others! Increasingly, however, the opportunities for physical interactions are fewer and kids are choosing to interact more through digital means, such as text messaging, social media and gaming. A unique opportunity is presented to teachers as a result of this drive to digitally communicate, and that is that students are highly motivated and already have a fluency with digital tools that is often well beyond the expertise of the teacher. With the willingness and existing capacity to use these tools as a part of the curriculum, there is no more a need for convincing, only for ideas and opportunities to allow this student expression, collaboration and communication within an educational environment.
While I am not someone who likes to advocate for specific technology tools, when there is only one like it, I just have to! VoiceThread is a free tool that allows users to add images, documents and videos, and then allows others to comment on each segment through text, audio and video. It becomes what you could call a "Group Audio Blog" in which everyone contributes their thoughts in various ways. With this functionality, it can easily be used as a storytelling tool, expository communication tool, collaboration tool or even an assessment tool! The possibilities are endless! It is very hard to understand the true power that VoiceThread could have in the classroom without seeing one. So, I encourage you to browse through some of the public VoiceThreads that people have submitted: https://voicethread.com/#browse or check out this one on Picturing Writing: https://voicethread.com/share/119840/.
If you are trying to figure out how you can weave this powerful tool into your existing lessons, consider these 26 interesting ways to use VocieThread in the Classroom from Tom Barrett: https://goo.gl/HmG07Q. Until next time!
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