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The Magic of Voice Thread in the Classroom Part 1

Inevitably, in the speaking classroom you never have enough time to evaluate each student one at a time. You do your best to be everyone’s teacher, but with the distractions it is hard to do a spur of the moment evaluation on every student. Enter: VoiceThread!

VoiceThread is an affordable online program that you should convince your administrators to buy. Given that you have an account, as the teacher, you can make unlimited threads. Your students just need regular free accounts and they can comment on any thread you set up; you only need to send them a link. The website provides a lot of support and lessons for how to use the site.

So once you master using VoiceThread and sharing your link, there are many directions you can go with this technology. Most of the time, I just create a single presentation slide with a question and a nice picture and let my students respond. This will get you pretty far in the VT world, but there are some things you should think about before you launch your first class assignment.

1. Tell your students that they have a time limit.

2. Multiply the number of students you have by your recommended time limit. 20 students X 1 minute for each response = 25-30 minutes of grading time

3. Have a simple rubric: You need to create an easy to use rubric. Decide beforehand what kinds of things you are going to grade. You can do a comprehensive grade, or only grade for a certain target skill like pronunciation.

4. Don’t let them read: Students will try to write out their answer beforehand and then read the answer out loud. While this method has some benefits, this was not my end goal. I wanted students to practice fluency, so I encouraged them not to write their answer.

*I have not received any financial support from Voice Thread.


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