There are many educational applications for Voicethread. One of the most important for a Tanach or Talmud class is to practice reading skills. Every teacher complains that students do not know how to read. In the lower level classes, they have trouble just reading the Hebrew/Aramaic correctly. In higher classes, students might be able to read the words but do they know how to translate? Do they pause in the right places and use the correct inflection to indicate the difference between a question, answer, or statement? The primary challenge teachers face in teaching reading is reading is boring. It is hard to give an engaging lesson that addresses many different learning styles and excites students with higher order thinking while at the same time having the time and patience to call on many students to read. This becomes even more of an issue in high school where students cannot be motivated easily to listen to each other read.
Voicethread becomes the perfect venue for this. It uses educational technology to teach something everyone agrees is important but cannot easily be done any other way. One can post the verses from Tanach or the lines from the Gemara as the picture in the middle of the thread and then the students can all be required to read it. Not only can students read on Voicethread, they can listen to their reading and correct it, or listen to others read to model their own reading. Voicethread also has advanced features like hidden URLs and comment moderation so teachers can easily control the Voicethread by not allowing inappropriate comments and can keep privacy concerns on a thread to a minimum.
I just setup my first Voicethread with my class today. The assignment is due Friday so one student has posted his comments so far. Here are the step-by-step instructions that I gave to my students (with the direct thread link removed to protect the privacy of my students).
Here are the instructions for our first Voice Thread Reading Assignment:
- Click on the following link to access the VoiceThread assignment: (put direct Voicethread link here)
- You will need to sign in, to leave your comments.
- Click, “Sign in or register” in the bottom left hand corner of the screen.
- When you get to the sign-in screen, click “Not Registered Yet? Register!”.
- You will have to enter your first and last names (NO NICKNAMES!), your email, and a password to log in.
- After you are signed in, click “Comment” in the middle lower part of the screen.
- You can comment either by using a microphone in your computer, your webcam, or by giving your number and it will call you so you can comment with your phone. Do not type comments as this is a reading assignment so only audio comments are accepted.
- After you comment, you will see it and be able to listen to it. However, it will not appear for others until I moderate it. Be careful to only leave appropriate comments.
- If you choose a profile picture, only use one that I would consider appropriate for a Torah class.
Why don't you give Voicethread a try with your class! Send me your comments about your experiences either as a comment on this blog or speak your comments on a Voicethread of your own and send me the web address to access the thread. I would love to hear!