Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Just getting started – my “final” reflection

Well this is it folks…my “final” post in my Adventures in Web 2.0! It has been a fun journey that has barely felt like work (but don’t tell my professor!). I have sincerely enjoyed the challenge to not only understand and explore a variety of web 2.0 tools but also create them and consider them within my position as a teacher-librarian. I am so pleased with how much I have learned these past four months that I just cannot keep it a secret. So I have a four-fold plan:

  1. Keep current in web 2.0 technologies
  2. Spread the good news of web 2.0 with my colleagues
  3. Integrate a new tool each month into my school library program
  4. Develop some web 2.0 tools for my personal use

And just how will I do this? Here is a little more detail:

Keeping current:

I think keeping current is essential as I anticipate new web 2.0 tools will be developed and useful in the field of education as well as new ways to use the tools I learned about in this course. I have three ideas for keeping current on web 2.0 technologies. First of all, I am going to continue to follow the Women of Web 2.0 podcasts posted. I like the idea of listening to these podcasts while doing housework – kill two birds with one stone! I will give it a shot. Secondly, I am going to continue to build my RSS reader on Pageflakes and continue to check it on a regular basis. This is easy to do as my Pageflakes reader is set as my homepage for my internet browser. Thirdly, I am going to join a list serve. I am not sure which one yet and would love your opinions on which one you think would help keep me informed about new and improved web 2.0 tools. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Spreading the good news:

As I outlined in great detail in my post last week, I am planning on starting a “tech café” where I host teacher to teach and support them in learning new web 2.0 tools. Please check out my post from last week for more info on this!

Integrating monthly:

I set the goal of using a new web 2.0 tool each month starting in January in my school library program. This is a realistic goal that I think will allow me to make the tools useful and not overkill. I think the first step I will take is setting up a blog for our new Surrey Picture Books of the Year nominee unit. There are 10 picture books that I will read to the classes in the new year and after reading and discussing each one, students will work together to post their comments on our school library blog. To do this, I need to create a new blog dedicated to this project. I plan on using blogger for this and setting up a shelfari on the blog to showcase the 10 picture books we will read.

Revolutionize my social life!

One way I have not been able to use these web 2.0 tools yet is in my social life! I am really excited to integrate these technologies into my personal life as I think they will increase the amount of people I can be in communication with. I already have begun this on facebook but would like to expand my use of voicethreads, blogs, photosharing and videosharing, and even podcasting to send messages, be in conversation with and keep informed my out of town family and friends. My in town friends may also benefit from me using my facebook page more often and being able to send them information and messages in a variety of means.

I have had so many positive experiences this term in creating web 2.0 tools that I am excited to explore them further in the ways I have outlined above but also in my next endeavor in my masters program – the capping paper. This is a paper that is aimed to summarize a key learning from my masters program and I have chosen to write it on digital literacy. This topic spawned from my excitement of using web 2.0 tools and beginning to understand the importance of digital technologies our own work and the lives of our students and their future.

But in an attempt to keep it real here, I did have a few lowlights in this experience. I continue to find the sheer volume of tools, widgets, applications, etc. overwhelming. However, throughout this course I feel like I have developed strategies to overcome this feeling. I have become a more advanced searcher using google, University databases and other search engines. I have found it easier to learn from examples other people have used in their work, on their blogs, to see how the tools work before viewing an online tutorial or other informational source. For example, I regularly referred to the blog of a previous student in this course to see how she used a variety of tools and how she posted them. See Ronda’s TL blog at http://rondastlblog.blogspot.com/. I also found it helpful to view my current classmates’ blogs and read their posts that coincide with my learning. Although I did not often get a chance to leave comments for them, I learned a lot from them even after my blog posts had been put up.

Another lowlight during this course for me was the lack of time to implement these tools as I was learning them. I have been so enthusiastic about a variety of tools that at times I wish I could have implementing them into my teaching immediately. But instead, I have chosen to wait to the end of the course, after exploring all the tools, to be able to choose the correct tool for each learning situation and have the time to implement them to the best of my ability. So this is where I want to implement my four-fold plan and it is realistic in the next few months that I will have time to do so.

All in all – highly recommended experience! This course was practical, applicable to my situation and along the way I was supported with as much support from my colleagues and professor to be successful. If you get the chance to take such a course – go for it! This is only the beginning for me!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

At the "Tech Cafe"...the relaxing way to approach web 2.0 exploration

As a teacher-librarian, I see myself as an educational leader whose role is to not only keep current in my practice but to support and facilitate this learning amongst my colleagues. To continue to pursue this goal in my position, I want to integrate the learning I have done in the past 4 months in this course in my own teaching but also work with and support my colleagues. I feel I have a responsibility to my students to assist teachers in my school to use web 2.0 tools. In his research, Larry Cuban found that "20% of teachers use information and communication technologies as part of their instruction" (Pletka, 2007, p.19). If I was able to find the same statistics in my school, my guess is that it would not be much different.

To support my colleagues in learning web 2.0 technologies and integrating them into their classrooms, I feel I need to do three things:

  1. Model web 2.0 tools to my colleagues
  2. Provide supportive hands-on learning experiences for my colleagues
  3. Be available to support my colleagues while they integrate these tools

In the past three years at my school, the technology situation at my school has gone from good to great (but not terrific!). We have acquired two mobile laptop computer labs, one full stationary computer lab, at least one computer in each classroom and 9 brand new computers in the school library for student use – both Macs and PCs. We have internet access on all of these computers with minimal filtering. Access to hardware, software and the internet is in a plethora at my school. Rarely does a student or staff member go without technology when they need it. How great is that!

The barrier however, is the lack of experience students and teachers have with this access. Teachers in my school are keen and willing to use technology to teach but are still using very basic means to do so. It is not our computers, but teachers and students who need upgrading in the area of web 2.0. So this is where I can help!

As there are many ways that I can promote these tools, I am going to take the avenue of showing my colleagues how web 2.0 tools can help them meet our two school goals that focus on literacy and social responsibility. I will create a “Tech Cafe” where I will spend an hour to two hours once a month after school putting on a workshop focused on a new tool. Each "cafe" teachers will get to learn how to create, use and integrate the tool while enjoying a hot drink and tasty treat! I want it to be hands-on, applicable and something that will uplift and encourage not bog down and frustrate teachers. To provide this I will ensure I am able to support them not only with my understanding of the tools but also with my time during the "cafes" and as they integrate the tools in their teaching. I have collaborative time in my schedule where I can work with teachers on this.

I feel the very first tech cafe should start with Will Richardson's (2009) advice:

"Before you attempt to bring these technologies to your students, first be selfish about their use in your own learning practice. While there is no doubt my classes were in many ways profoundly changed by blogs and wikis and the like, the bigger truth is that transformation in my own personal learning practice is what informed my work with students. It wasn't until I fully understood how these technologies can facilitate global connections and conversations around my own passions, how they could help me create powerful learning networks and communities, that I was able to see what needed to change in terms of my curriculum and my teaching" (p.8).

After giving my colleagues Will Richardson's advice, I am going to start by introducing social bookmarking to my colleagues. I feel by creating social bookmarking sites, I will draw on their already developed ability to use websites in their teaching by giving them a tool to organize these sites and share them with each other through the mail tool.

Secondly, I am going to introduce my colleagues to voice threads. Here is how I may introduce it….

After these initial steps, I will assess how the "tech cafe" model is working and decide if I will continue with it or tweak it to include more of my colleagues.

I anticipate my biggest problem is initially getting teachers to commit their time to coming to the “tech cafe” as like most teachers, their time is already in high demand. I plan on not only providing a hot drink and tasty treat as a tiny incentive to coming to the workshop but also keeping them short and sweet in that we do a lot in a short amount of time and then play some more in context of their teaching in my collaborative time.

Even if I can get one teacher on board at first, I know the interest will slowly spread when my colleague and I can showcase how we have used these tools with our students – maybe in a school wide assembly! What better advertising than having students showcase their learning through web 2.0 tools in front of the school and then allowing students and the teacher time to give their testimonies of how easy and fun it was to do!

Although I assume my colleagues will be most interested in working with the tools, creating them and applying them in their teaching, I will have available the following books in the library for them to borrow as well as links to the following websites to support them, give them ideas and provide them with theory and research on teaching with web 2.0 tools. I will also direct them to explore a variety of the blogs of my classmates in this course as they have worked hard exploring and examining these tools. They can access them through my blog or I can send them the links on their new delicious accounts!

Books & Articles:

Asselin, M., Doiron, R. (unknown) Towards a Transformative Pedagogy for School Libraries 2.0. Retrieved November 20, 2008 from http://asselindoiron.pbwiki.com/AERApaper

Burniske, R. (2008). Literacy in the digital age. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Nelson, K. (2008). Teaching in the digital age. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

North Vancouver School District (2007). Digital Expression. North Vancouver, BC: North Vancouver School District.

November, A. (2008). Web Literacy for Educators. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Pletka, B. (2007). Educating the Net Generation: How to engage students in the 21st century. Santa Monica, CA: Santa Monica Press.

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

Valenza, J., Rodoff, K. (2008). Information fluency. Retrieved November 20, 2008 from http://informationfluency.wikispaces.com/


Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day @ http://janeknight.typepad.com/pick/2008/11/blurb.html

Learning 2.0 @ http://plcmcl2-things.blogspot.com/

Mount Prospect Public Library Web 2.0 tutorials @ http://mppllearning2point0.pbwiki.com/

Tame the Web @ http://tametheweb.com/

Wonderful Web 2.0 Tools @ http://techitupwebtools.pbwiki.com/

Women of Web 2.0 @ http://www.edtechtalk.com/taxonomy/term/219

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blogs as a homebase on the read/write web – a home run!

The potential of the read/write web, as discussed by Richardson (2009), is truly epitomized in blogging. The read/write web is the ability of all users to be able to contribute to the content found on the web. “We are no longer limited to being independent readers or consumers of information…we can be collaborators in the creation of large storehouses of information (Richardson, 2009, p.2). Blogs are easy to create and use tools on the read/write web. David Warlick defines a blog as “a Web-publishing concept that enables anyone -- first graders, political pundits, homeless people, high school principals, presidential candidates -- to publish information on the Internet” (Warlick, para.4). Best of all, they are free online tools. These factors are part of the reason blogs epitomize the read/write web. We can also look to the nature of blogs in that they are self created, can be made available to chosen audiences, interactive through commenting, flexible to incorporate other web 2.0 tools (YouTube, Flickr, Voice Threads, etc.) and allow the creation of your personal voice. This provides a plethora of reasons why blogs can be your homebase on the read/write web.

Your homebase on the read/write web is the place that you create to explore, discuss, display, challenge or question your own learning and the learning of others. As I have done on this blog, it is a place where I have collected, recorded and displayed my learning as well as interacted with my fellow classmates about the learning topics and can continue to develop to further my learning. This is an on-going creation where I can read and write on the web to further my learning, reflect on it and contribute to the content on the web. It is my homebase for my adventures in learning about web 2.0!

Similarly, blogs can be used as a homebase for students, for teachers, classrooms and groups of students or teachers. A singular purpose can be chosen for a blog or it can evolve as the learner does. When used as a homebase, blogs can represent the learning that is occurring through showing the learning, supporting the learning or having the learning occur right on the blog! One way this can be done is in the interaction the blogger can have with those that access and comment on the blog.

The following chart outlines a few ways in which blogs can be used in education. I specifically like that it identifies activities for writing and reading as well those that can be involved in these areas (i.e. self, instructor, other students, rest of the net).

As a teacher-librarian, I can see that I could use blogs in the following ways with my students:

- As a means of communication between students, teachers, parents and other members of the education environment.

- As a means of assessment by allowing students to display their learning, self-evaluate, provide assessment information both for and of learning.

- As a medium for cooperative learning allowing student interaction with or without teacher direction and intervention.

- As a tool for reflection for students learning, ideas and exploration of learning topics.

- As individual students’ homebases for learning.

Don’t believe it? Check out how a Grade 5 class has used blogs to create a classroom community online by clicking here. http://www.pb5th.com/Polar_Bear_Fat/vb/ Many of the links are private (good idea when working with students!) but you can see that the teacher communicates information (i.e. field trips, homework, daily class activities), marks, class worksheets and forms, and birthdays of members. Students and parents who are members can also contribute to the blog too. This is evident through the statistics – 48, 314 blog posts from over 400 members! This truly is a community and a homebase for these Grade 5 students, teachers and parents.

As a teacher-librarian and colleague, I can see that I could use blogs in the following ways with my colleagues for professional development:

- Develop a blog for a particular purpose to share information with a group of colleagues who share the same interest. For example, connect with other teacher-librarians who have a literacy school goal and share how we support that school goal through the school library program on our blog. We can not only write posts and comment on each others postings, but share articles, videos and other professional information.

- Create a blog as a means of mentorship between myself and another teacher. For example, if another teacher-librarian is interested in developing their practice, we could set up a blog on which we communicate, mentor and guide each other in our area of common interest.

- Develop a blog on a topic that I am preparing a workshop on and introduce workshop participants to the blog as a means of furthering their learning and continuing the conversation of learning beyond the workshop.

- Create a blog for my own professional development on all topics in order to record my learning and explore it in greater detail. This could be a private blog for me to be very open and ‘messy’ in my learning.

By no means are these exhausted lists but ideas that came to mind after reading, research and reflection on blogs used in education.

What potential do you see for this tool? What to give blogging a try? I would recommend starting with blogger found at www.blogger.com In my experience with three different free blogging providers, this has been the easiest to set up, invite and access users and incorporate other forms of media onto my blog. Before creating your blog, be sure to decide on the purpose of your blog, how often you may use it, your audience, if your blog will be private or public and any specific conditions that would determine your blog set up for your purposes.

Blogging as the epitome of the read/write web can be used in numerous ways based on your design and purpose. With an authentic audience to write for and the ownership in which the blogger will develop over their space on the web, blogging will help you achieve your educational goals whether they are for your professional development or for your students learning. Blogs as a homebase for learning will surely be parallel to hitting a home run!


Blog uses in education. Retrieved on November 17, 2008 from http://www.edtechpost.ca/gems/matrix2.gif

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Warlick, D. Retrieved November 19, 2009 from http://www.education-world.com/a_tech/tech/tech217.shtml

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Keeping up with the "Joneses" with RSS Feeds

As a professional educator, I feel it is my responsibility to be continually searching for opportunities to learn new ideas, theories, pedagogies and ways to improve my practice. This week as I focused on exploring RSS feeds I realized that they are a tool that can help me in this endeavor. .

What is RSS? Chris Harris explains it very well. “RSS, which stands for something so geeky that even geeks can't remember what it is supposed to mean, is a tool that allows you to subscribe to a site's feed. What that means is that anytime new information is published to that website, it will automatically be collected and sent to you. The RSS feed won't bug you unless there is new information, which helps you avoid overload. Even better, you access your RSS feeds through an RSS reader, which means you only have to go to a single site for all of your updates!”

As many professionals and experts in my field are creating and constantly updating websites, blogs, wikis, nings and other web 2.0 communication tools, I can use a RSS aggregator such as Pageflakes, Google Reader or Bloglines to efficiently follow their newest ideas in education. I personally use Pageflakes as my homepage as it allows me to not only follow my RSS feeds through the Reader function or on my pages, it also is a place where I can connect all my web 2.0 tools (i.e. blog, wikis, flickr, podcasts, delicious bookmarks and keep a to-do list all at one spot. I also love Pageflakes because it allows me to create more than one page. For example, I have a homepage, a personal page and a professional page. As I use my facebook account for personal use, my facebook feed is on my personal page. In terms of RSS feeds, I like the Pageflakes reader because it allows me to choose the format in which I view the feeds. I can read summaries or entire entries that have been updates. So depending on the time I have, I can switch between these functions to ensure I am able to continue to follow my RSS feeds.

Below is a screenshot of my professional Pageflakes page that includes RSS feed from my favourite sites. I have chosen a few feeds to keep on my professional page in case I do not have time in a day to get to the Reader. Also below is a screenshot of my Reader in Pageflakes which I am currently working on personalizing by selecting and adding sites I want to follow on a regular basis.

Professional Page on Pageflakes

RSS Reader Page on Pageflakes

Not only are RSS feeds a fabulous professional development tool, they can also be useful in the classroom setting for teaching and learning! Speaking of RSS feeds, Will Richardson notes they can “add to your knowledge base, help you communicate, and make your teaching better” (2009, p.77).

If your students are using blogs as learning tools, they will be able to create RSS feeds right on their blogs using widgets. They can subscribe to their classmates blogs as well as sites they are interested in, led to by their teacher or feel will assist in their learning journey.

Students who are not using blogs can use readers such as Pageflakes, Google Reader or Bloglines to manage, organize and read their RSS feeds. Teachers can choose to limit the sites in which students follow keeping their readers for school use only or allow students to completely personalize their readers for school use as well as personal use.

Whether using RSS feeds and blog aggregators for your professional development or with your students, I think it is important to develop a list of criteria for the sites that you follow. Each time you come across a site you think you may want to follow, before adding it to your RSS feeds on your reader, evaluate the site based on your criteria to ensure it is a site that is worth your time each day to read. This can be done personally, with a group of colleagues or with a class of students and ensures that you are spending your time only reading what is truly important to your goals for following sites through RSS feeds.

One of the ways I am very excited to use RSS feeds in the elementary school library setting, is by adding a link to a Reader such as Pageflakes that is set up for students, staff and parents to use as an addition to our collection! I will start by creating a Pageflakes account for my school, creating a page for students, one for staff and one for parents and add RSS feeds to each page as it would support the work and learning of each group. After the initial set up, I could teach students how to access the Pageflakes page and read the RSS feeds. To inform the staff and parents, I would hold after school information sessions individually for each group to show they how to access their Pageflakes page, read the RSS feeds, show them the potential for their students or children and teach them how to add sites they feel would benefit their group. As an extension of the physical library, this can be a school community presence on the web that would allow all members of my school community to “keep up with the Joneses” in the field of education.


Harris, C. (2007). Digital reshift. School Library Journal. Retrieved Nov. 9, 2008 from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/blog/840000284/post/510007651.html?q=rss

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Teacher to Teacher Social Networking Communities - even interact with experts!

After having a facebook account for over a year, I have come to realize that it is truly a great tool to use to keep in touch with people that you may not do so otherwise. For example, I am currently planning my 10 year high school reunion and found 48 of the 66 people I graduated with on facebook and got in touch with another 11 of my fellow graduates through siblings or friends on facebook who they are in touch with. Of the 66 of us who graduated together, only 7 of them are out of my "reach" on facebook. That is amazing to me.

As a teacher, this is also a little frightening. I am using my facebook account to be in touch with friends, family and other acquaintances who can write comments on my wall, send me messages, tag me in videos or photos they have loaded on to their facebook pages. This being said...I do NOT want my students being able to access that information. I do not think I have anything to hide but do not think it is professional for students to be a part of my personal life in such as way. Luckily, facebook allows you to set up your own privacy settings so that I can restrict who sees my wall, my photos, my comments, my messages...my anything on facebook. I know there are some teachers who have students as their friends on facebook but I personally believe, when facebook is being used to conduct personal social networking, students should not be included in this forum. I believe it is a breach of professional conduct on the part of the teacher.

One way I do see facebook being used in the educational setting is forming groups with other teachers on a topic of interest to support and learn from each other. A group can be set up by anyone who has a facebook account and can be private (invite only) or public (all welcome) to facebook users. The group has its own space where the administrator (person who set up the group) has the option to include a discussion space, a wall to post comments on, a photo sharing space, website sharing space and other collaborative features.

I am currently a part of a group called Librarians and Web 2.0 that was created and is administrated by a Graduate of the same Masters program I am in - Karen Lindsay. There are 191 people in this public group who interact on a discussion board and through wall comments as well as sharing YouTube and Teacher Tube Videos and other resources that are of interest to group members. My favourite feature provided by facebook on group pages is the links to "related groups". This gives you information about other groups with common interests that you can join as well.

It has been a positive experience to be a part of this group and through this experience see how groups can be created on any topic as a professional collaborative tool. I can see that in my teaching, I would explore creating a group as a means to collaborative with other teachers who are already on facebook. If I was working on a unit or specified project or initiative with teachers who had facebook accounts, I could see a closed group (or private group) would give us a space to share and support each other when time permits.

In his interview with PC Magazine, Chris Anderson discusses the type of community that facebook provides. "As history has shown, a new network will always come along and supersede an existing one: Friendster begets MySpace begets Facebook begets whatever comes next. We don't need another giant social-network site. The world needs an infinite number of micro social networks about specific issues." I believe this can be accomplished in the group function of facebook. Anderson goes on to discuss true communities. "Social-networking tools are appealing and certainly addictive to some, but true communities have a purpose, a passion." When you join a facebook group, you do so because you are motivated by passion and a common purpose. In this way facebook can be a valuable tool, setting up professional communities.

The most fantastic potential of facebook is for teachers to get in touch with experts and learn from them! They may not be registered as our "friends" on facebook, but if experts are on facebook, they most likely are a part of groups or administrate groups that hold their personal passion where they share their knowledge.

Meredith Farkas notes this potential in her article What Friends are for. "When I first started using Twitter and Facebook, I didn't see their potential as professional development tools. One day, though, I examined my list of friends on Facebook, and realized I was looking at an online Rolodex full of experts. I saw experts on podcasting, library catalogs, engineering resources, web design, and much more. Here was this network of smart people who were likely ready and willing to share their knowledge. All I had to do is message them in Facebook".

Even with my reservations with using facebook in the field of education with students, I do think it is a tool that has great potential for teachers and educational colleagues to share and support in common goals and interests in education.

I think I am heading off to hunt for some experts! I will let you know if I find any!

The Micro Threat to Facebook :Social-networking tools are appealing and certainly addictive to some, but true communities have a purpose, a passion. (2008) PC Magazine, 27(11), p.1-2. Retrieved November 7, 2008, from ProQuest Education Journals database. (Document ID: 1554705091).

Farkas, M. (2008). What Friends Are For. American Libraries, 39(1/2), 36. Retrieved November 7, 2008, from ProQuest Education Journals database. (Document ID: 1408972291).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Need for reform...digital reform

This video just makes me want to act today, tonight, tomorrow on promoting web 2.0 tools, teaching digital literacies and changing the way in which I teach and interact with students. This is a MUST see!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Building Oral Language through Voice Threads

Check out my very first voice thread and please feel free to add a comment!

Well I think that voice threads have become my new favourite web 2.0 tool! They are super fun, easy, free and incorporate photo and video sharing, emailing and social networking. I was worried about being able to create a voice thread at first because I did not have a microphone on my computer and had never recorded my voice using a computer. Turns out...it's not so hard! I found a site at www.voicethread.com, bought a $12 computer microphone, plugged it in to my computer and followed the steps (only three of them!) to create my very first voice thread! Before this I did explore the voice thread website (click here to check it out) and watched different tutorials on how to create an account and a voice thread. Click on the Monster Voice Thread link below to view a fabulous example of how children can use voice thread.

Monster Voice Thread

Once you have an account on voicethread.com you can invite your family, friends, classmates, teachers or whoever you may seek as your audience to set up an account as well. All you need is an email address to do so. Once you have an audience and have created a voice thread you can share the voice thread with any of those people! It is too easy!

After doing this only once, I have a ton of ideas of how I will use this tool in the educational setting.

1. The grade 4 science class I currently teach is studying a weather unit. To conclude the unit and put into practice the types of weather and weather measuring instruments they have explored, I am going to assign them an assignment that requires them to create a weather broadcast similar to what they would see on the evening news. Instead of performing their broadcast to the class, they can now create a voice thread (including pictures or video) of the weather they are predicting for "tomorrow". All classmates can set up a voicethread account and then comment on each others predictions - again extending their learning.

2. In the new year, during my library unit on parts of a story, students can create voice threads that represent each part of a story. They can work in groups to create their own story on a voice thread, include pictures they have created as the visual component and encourage written and oral responses through viewing each others stories.

3. I am currently planning a collaborative unit with three grade 7 teachers around a leveled novel study. Three groups will be formed and books that have a movie created after them will be chosen. After a group has finished a book, they will watch the movie and then I will guide them in a comparison activity to summarize their learning. Voice threads will be a perfect tool for them as it is simple to learn to do, students can display and explore their learning through displaying parts of the movie or book or their own re-creation of them while adding their own voice to the project. They can then view what they classmates have created and extend their learning through comments.

Many of my other ideas support the development of oral language. As a form of literacy, this piece is often not a focus but using voice thread not only incorporates reading and writing skills but it focuses on oral language skills. Even students who feel inhibited to speak in front of a group can do so through the use of voice threads. I believe even young students, as young as Kindergarten, could create a voice thread and with the guidance of a teacher, it can turn into a self esteem building, oral language development and learning enhancing experience. If you are not sure about children as young as 5 using voice threads, click here for an example of how it has been! I love this example of how teachers can use voice threads as a teaching tool!

Naturally there are barriers to using this tool as an educational tool such as access to sufficient hardware, internet connection and a teacher with enough knowledge of the tool to create meaningful activities for its use. Fortunately in my teaching situation hardware and internet connection are not a barrier. I see my role as the Teacher-Librarian in the school to promote such tools through after school 'workshops', collaborative teaching and planning, district wide workshops, small group instruction, library class instruction and different demonstration opportunities. For example, maybe in the next staff meeting I will give my monthly library report through the medium of a voice thread. I could show my voice thread on the projector for all teachers to see and show them how easy it is to create one (in the 5 minutes I am given we could create a voice thread in the meeting!). I will also provide the opportunity for staff to stay after the meeting to set up their own account and further explore this tool.

Not convinced?

Check out these explanations from four teachers who listed voicethreads in their top 10 tools to use in the classroom:

A VoiceThread is an online media album that allows people to make comments, either audio or text, and share them with anyone they wish. A VoiceThread allows an entire group’s story to be told and collected in one place." Andreas Büsing

VoiceThread allows you to easily create an online slide-show with narration from one or multiple voices, which is then hosted on the site. Another great educational tool." Larry Ferlazzo

Promotes asynchronous discussion about posted subjects. This utility leapfrogs all other applications because of its inclusiveness and simplicity. One a photo, video, graphic or document is posted, visitors can comment on it by recording audio files or entering text. You can even phone your comments to the site. Can make graphic notations on the item of discussion while talking. Tough to describe, it’s a MUST SEE to BELIEVE." Leigh Zeitz

is a Web 2.0 hosted service that takes slide-type presentations to a whole new level. It is easy to create presentations with either audio or video support tracks. VoiceThread makes it possible to record “live annotations” while recording a presentation. The end result is a streaming presentation that greatly improves instructor presence. VoiceThread creates a warmer teaching-learning experience." Rick Lillie

Found at http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/Top100Tools/voicethread.html

Other educators like this tool so much they are building wikis and contributing to them to promote the tool in our school setting. Check out the wiki built and maintained by Colette Cassinelli by clicking here. This is a great wiki because not only does it give you support for using voice threads, it also uses voice thread as a tool to discuss with other educators how they use the tool in their teaching! You have to be a part of this!

In short, voicethread is easy, free, collaborative, promotes many literacies and can be a powerful learning and teaching tool! Enjoy this fabulous tool!