Best Practices:

See several resources below for great tips from educators who have used VoiceThread in classrooms.

Voicethread Examples in Education
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: ict k12)

Around forty examples of Voicethread organized by the purpose of the Voicethread. Shared by Suzie Vesper. More >>>

Ideas for how to develop lessons for VoiceThread

How did you think through the pedagogy that encourages collaboration and makes VoiceThread the “right” tool for your project?

  • Start with a goal in mind. Ask yourself WHY is VoiceThread the best tool for this lesson. Is it really encouraging collaboration and thoughtful responses? Are you trying to involve multiple classes on one project?
  • Use a storyboard or Inspiration for careful planning of your VoiceThread. Begin with a discussion of the big picture. How will your images, text, audio convey the message to the audience? Spend some time discussing this. Do you want to have an emotional impact, or is this about educating someone. How will our images/text represent the tone we are going for? Have the students first begin brainstorming with what they want to say during the presentation. Flush out all ideas BEFORE gathering images. This is a common mistake. Students want to find the photos first and then fit their message to the photos - it should be the other way around. Model digital citizenship by having students using images with Creative Commons licensing (FlickrStorm is a great search tool), draw and scan, or take photographs. A good site for free and open content can be found at OER. I have also had the students make slides in PowerPoint and then "save as" jpg and upload those (be careful though that they don't put too much text on the slide and use large fonts). I like to have the students do all their recordings in Audacitybefore they even begin assembling their project on Voicethread. We have issues with lots of background noise when recording in the classroom so I encourage students to come in during lunch/after school or at home to make their recordings. Audacity is FREE and easy to use and will allow the students to edit out mistakes, "um" or even add simple music introductions. Once all of the audio is recorded, the images are collected and avatars are made for each student - I let them begin assembling their VoiceThread. This process goes much smoother since we did all the work up front.
  • VoiceThread is great for debates. Multiple people can voice their opinions. Consider having one slide for pro and another for con.
  • I heard the story of a teacher who used Voicethread for creative storytelling in her one-computer classroom. The first students (they worked in pairs) started a chain story with a main character, setting and problem. The students drew a picture of the scene, scanned it and uploaded the to a class Voicethread account and recorded their portion of the story. When they were through, they tagged the next students in the class to continue on the story. It went on and on until everyone participated. This went on for several weeks and there was excitement each day when the pairs got to work on the class story and lots of whispering (because they were suppose to keep their part a secret). The pairs that went first were dying to find out what happened next and the pairs that started last had to wait their turn to find out the plot. The teacher occasionally checked on the story to make sure the plot made sense but the students did great. On the day of the big reveal of the story, the class ate popcorn and giggled at their parts of the story. It was a huge success. (I don't have URL - anyone know it?)
  • Wonderful ideas for using VoiceThread from Using Voicethread for Digital Conversations-
    • Begin by carefully selecting a topic that will promote conversation and debate between students—and that can be conveyed through images currently available to you. Possible topics include:
      • What can you learn about the values of a country or a culture by studying images?
      • Is Global Warming having an impact on our world?
      • Has urbanization helped or harmed our community?
      • Where can evidence of math be found in our daily lives?
      • Is graffiti a form of artistic expression or simply vandalism?
      • Who are heroes?
  • Voicethread is great for visual literacy or reflective practices. I have had my graphic design students upload projects and talk through their thinking of WHY they created the project the way they did. The comments are reflective and authentic which encourage thoughtful responses by their classmates.
  • Plan a collaborative project with schools from another state. Its easier if one school hosts the VoiceThread and invites other schools to participate. Give specific guidelines of how you want the school to participate, make decisions on using images/avatars, provide samples comments, and give credit to all participating schools.
  • I was thinking about doing embedded video with the new version of Google Earth, it dawned on me that perhaps I could embed a Voice Thread project into a place mark. I quickly added a place mark and in the description pane, I pasted the embed code for both Voice Thread and Animoto projects. It worked beautifully! Try it yourself, it is remarkably simple to do. Below is a short tutorial video to show you the process of embedding Voice Thread into Google Earth. The audio get slightly choppy, probably due to GE running. excerpt from John Maklary
  • Please add to this list ...

Subject Area Ideas -

  • As an assessment tool, VT allows a student to orally comment on and make written notations on the picture.
  • Creating portfolios and tracking goals on VoiceThreads allows parents, students and teachers to continue the conversation throughout the entire term, rather than limiting the conversation to report card/conference time. Students can upload regular updates, including their most recent work samples. Teachers could leave comments as a form of assessment. Parents can leave their own thoughts, and hear (first-hand) the feedback their child has received from the teacher. VoiceThreads could sustain the dialogue in a simple, accessible and authentic way.
Foreign Language
  • Teacher creates a series of Voicethreads and students could practice either repeating or responding. Could be used as drill and practice or for assessment.
Field Trips
  • Teacher assign groups of students to explain the digital pictures taken during the trip and how they relate to curriculum topics.
  • Scanned images of student artwork could be used for students to critique their own works or that of fellow students.
Language Arts
  • Using scanned images of writing pieces, students could comment as part of a reflective phase of the writing process.
  • Post an image as a prewriting activity and allow students to respond orally in an idea-generating phase. There is a great magnifying feature that would allow text to be read.
  • Use for vocabulary development and oral expression in Speech/Language and ESL/ELL classes.
  • ESOL students write and record where they come from on a world map.
  • Great Book Stories
  • Use VoiceThread for pre-reading/making predictions before starting a new novel. Have students make predictions about the plot of a novel by posting a picture of an object from the novel.
  • Have students write poems and then find an image that represents/symbolizes their poem and read the poem aloud. Other students may comment on their poem.
Social Studies
  • Use for Oral Histories
  • Have students bring in an old photo of their family (not studio a photo) to scan and have students record their thoughts and feelings or story behind the image.
  • Have students provide a picture of a grandparent then narrate what they learned about that grandparent from interviewing him/her. Could also might be used for local history projects (pictures of local sites) or war veteran stories.
  • Have stduents explain a new concept.
  • K-7 Mathcasts 500 Project
  • In elementary math, students are having to show multiple strategies for solving problems. On VT picture could have multiple entries with each new student entry being a different strategy or comment about an already-posted strategy. It promotes student ownership and authentic math language.
  • Use as a way to report on an experiment.
Back to School Night
  • Tour of your classroom: Take photos of your classroom and students working and then post on your website for parents who are unable to come to Back to School Night. Let parents record their thoughts at BTS night over the VoiceThread or have students record what they are excited about learning this coming school year ad play it at BTS night.

Encouraging Appropriate Comments

  • Great comment sentence starters from:
    • This reminds me of…
    • This is similar to…
    • I wonder…
    • I realized…
    • I noticed…
    • You can relate this to…
    • I’d like to know…
    • I’m surprised that…
    • If I were , I would
    • If then _
    • Although it seems…
    • I’m not sure that…
  • Consider using a cell phone to record comments made by outsiders. Click on the phone icon on the VoiceThread window and enter a phone number. VoiceThread will then "call" that number and the receiver can leave a comment that will be attached to that image. OR try using Gabcast to have an outsider record an interview and then download the interview off the Gabcast website and upload it into VoiceThread. See samples of how interviews were recorded on Career projects at

VoiceThread Publishing Example: Safe, Powerful, Interactive

by Wes Fryer at
Thanks to a tweet from New York school librarian Karen Kliegman, I learned about a superb elementary VoiceThread project she helped facilitate titled, “Federal Holidays: New Holiday Proposals.”

This student VoiceThread project exemplifies “best practices” for safe publishing of student work in several ways:
  1. SAFETY: Student identities are not revealed. Each student created a custom avatar/icon and used it when sharing their ideas during their project. While I think student photos and first names can be FINE to share with parent permission in VoiceThread projects and other web-published media projects, the approach Karen has taken with this VoiceThread is conservative and safe but still allows the full power of VoiceThread to be utilized and realized. In many conservative communities in the United States where fear about Internet use by young people seems to rival irrational fears about Islamic terrorists lurking behind every corner, publishing without student photos and names is a GREAT way to promote the cause of 21st century literacy development which administrators / school board members can easily understand as well as support.
  2. MULTIPLE VOICES: On each VoiceThread photo page, multiple students who contributed to their project speak and share. Rather than a narrated PowerPoint, this presentation format effectively reveals the different students, personalities, and ideas which contributed to the student project.
  3. OPEN FOR PUBLIC COMMENTING: Karen has left this VoiceThread open for other learners around the world to not only view, but also comment on. This is VITAL. Publishing student work on the “closed web” rather than “the open web” is far less powerful and potentially beneficial. Kudos to Karen for modeling best practices and publishing this example of student work on the OPEN WEB, leaving it open for public commenting.
  4. INTERACTION WELCOME: Published student work in the 21st century should invite ongoing interaction and participation by learners inside and outside the traditional classroom. In 1998 when we published student work in my 4th grade classroom to our school website, it was published in a STATIC form that did not facilitate interaction. The extent of interaction possible at that time was a web project visitor taking the time to send an email to the teacher, whose address was listed at the bottom of the page. Being able to share your voice and ideas interactively in a MODERATED environment (which VoiceThread provides) is critical for the development of 21st century literacy skills. There IS a “big world” out there beyond the walls of the traditional classroom, and inviting others to interact with and provide feedback on the work created by students is an important role for visionary educators and educational leaders in 2008.
Many thanks to Karen for sharing this wonderful VoiceThread!

Tips for beginning with VoiceThread

  1. Begin by adding comments to other VoiceThread projects. Use text, audio comments and a webcam to become with how comments work. You can use a FREE VoiceThread account to do this. Get comfortable with the program before jumping in.
  2. Create one account for your class and create one VoiceThread project where everyone participates. Each students can add a comment or be in charge of finding a (Creative Commons) image to use or create an original image with basic photo editing program.
  3. Each student can have their own identity icon. Consider having younger children draw an image of themselves or choose an icon to represent themselves instead of a photo.
  4. Only after the class has quite a bit of experience posting comments and uploading images to VoiceThread would I consider an individual project made by students. If you do this, make the students do ALL of the script writing, image collecting or creation, voice recording (edit with Audacity) before you allow them to begin assembling their VoiceThread. I used Inspiration with my students for planning their VoiceThread. Students linked their chosen image and recording and I approved them before they assembled their projects.

What I've noticed in viewing several VT projects recently is that the students (and some educators, adults) don't test their audio completely before posting it on threads. It's critical that this be done. Check the volumes and the plug-ins. Nothing detracts from a wonderful presentation more than poor audio/video. Don't post it unless it's of high quality. Just frustrates the viewer.