Facilitating Literacy in the 21st Century: Voicethread

This is the fifth post in a series about 21st Century tools in the literacy classroom

By readingintheborderlands

Literacy learning is easier and more engaging when it is collaborative. One technological tool that lends itself to collaboration is Voicethread. Voicethread describes itself as “a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam).” Once a student or group of students creates a voicethread, other students can view it and add their own comments through written notes, audio files, or short videos. Voicethreads can also be made public so that parents, friends, and community members can view and comment on them.

 This example of a voicethread is from a group of middle school students who participated in an online literature discussion about the Jacqueline Woodson novel Hush.

How can Voicethread be used in a literacy classroom?

  • When reading a whole-class book, groups of students can use Voicethread to explore different questions about the book. Once these are published, the rest of the class can comment on the Voicethreads through text, images, audio or video.
  • When groups are reading different books on the same theme, each group can create a Voicethread about their book, then other groups can widen and extend the conversation by commenting on connections they see across Voicethreads.
  • The discussion can be moved beyond the classroom by allowing members of the school community, parents and other family, and the general public to comment on the Voicethreads.
  • Students can explore difficult vocabulary and share their understandings by creating a Voicethread about each vocabulary word. Text, audio, images, and video can work together to show complex definitions, multiple meanings, and connections between words.

Educators can use Voicethread at a basic level for free. You can purchase a Voicethread subscription fairly cheaply for more extensive features.

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