Home » Featured Carousel »iPad »Tech Integration »Upgrade » Currently Reading:

VoiceThread Docents on the iPads

June 14, 2012 Featured Carousel, iPad, Tech Integration, Upgrade 3 Comments

Our second grade teacher, Ms.S., was ready to “upgrade” a traditionally taught unit on reptiles. We met to discuss how she could incorporate the 5 C’s of 21st century skills as well as support new emerging literacies. The basic idea was to upgrade a typical report,  using books from the library to research and fill out a “research” template on a piece of paper.

“Upgrading” meant to find ways to go beyond the traditional text based resources and local classroom community and AMPLIFY…

  • the skills being introduced or supported…
  • the reach students’ voices (in a myriad of media) have…
  • teaching as a skill of learning…
  • the audience they are writing, talking or presenting to…

With that in mind, we came up with  VoiceThread, as a tool to allow for this amplification to happen. We wanted students to become “docents”, responsible to research, learn about and teach others about a specific reptile.

A docent is defined as

1. A teacher or lecturer at some universities who is not a regular faculty member.
2. A lecturer or tour guide in a museum or cathedral.
The classroom teacher set up a visit from our local Reptile Store, who came to school with live animals. Each student had an “assigned” reptile they were researching. We took pictures of each student with “their animal” (to be inserted as the main page of the VoiceThread. Students were able to ask specific questions of the reptile expert during the visit as well.
Two students were assigned the role of photographer and videographer to document the visit and question and answer session with the expert.
Our first lesson back in the classroom, in preparation of using VoiceThread, was about Avatars. Since we were going to use VoiceThread under a school account, each students received their own identity complete with an avatar.

We talked about the movie Avatar, which most of the second graders were familiar with and how the “alien body” was a representation of the humans and allowed them to breath on planet Pandora. Since we are not able to “physically” move on the Internet, we also need to use an avatar to represent us in the virtual world. We talked about how our avatar should mean something to us and be a representation of how we want to be “known” online. Students had a choice of taking a photo of themselves (not the entire face, but a non-identifying body part, ex. eye, ear, elbow, hand…) or take a picture of a drawn self-portrait. They could also take a picture of their pet or favorite animal at home and send the image file via email to me to be uploaded to the VoiceThread account.



Here are the logistics of how I set up the VoiceThread to be used with the iPads.

  • Create the VoiceThread “Blazin Reptiles”  under teacher’s own VoiceThread account.
  • Create a separate VoiceThread account for students (with individual identities for each student).
  • Invite the student account to view and be able to add comments on the VT from my account.

The idea was to be able to log into the student account on each student iPad without them having the ability to delete the the VoiceThread project. The student account houses all the student identities.

Side Note: Although this sounded good in theory and USED TO work in practice (!!!), we found out that VoiceThread no longer allows multiple logins from multiple devices :( After logging into the student VoiceThread account on each iPad, in order to save time and problems with students trying to log in themselves during class, we received multiple “Session Expired” warning windows pop up. We tried to sign the iPads in as quickly as possible, so students could continue recording their prepared voice comments.

After tweeting about the problem, VoiceThread replied on Twitter:

Once students had created their avatars and they had been loaded under one account as different identities, we brought the iPads for each individual student to the classroom.

I connected one iPad wirelessly to the projector via the Reflection app  and walked through the steps of

  1. Finding the VoiceThread app
  2. Changing the Identity in the Account setting
  3. Opening up the Blazin’Reptile VoiceThread
  4. Navigating to the specific image with the picture of their reptile
  5. Choosing between text, audio or video comment
  6. Recording their voice comment
  7. Reviewing the audio (discarding or saving the comment)

One student volunteered to demonstrate the steps as an example in front of the entire class.

After we ran into the problems of students being logged out continuously, we reduced the amount of iPads connected to the student VoiceThread account and grouped students around one iPad to take turns.

We are envisioning:

  1. First round of audio comments: Students create audio recordings from their research notes.
  2. Second round of comments: Students listen to each other’s comments and leave questions for their peers about reptile, that was not covered in the first round comments.
  3. Third round of comments: Student docents listen to their classmates’ comments left on their reptile’s page and answer by elaborating and digging deeper into research if necessary.
  4. Fourth round of comments: VoiceThread being embedded on classroom blog (and Langwitches Blog). Comments with questions or facts about the reptiles being sought from outside “experts”, possibly another second grade class who studied reptiles.

Note: Time ran away from us…summer break arrived …The VoiceThread did not make it past round one :(

Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Sarah says:

    Loved this post! I did something similar, though not nearly so in depth this year. We had the same trouble with the multiple iPads. If I may, how many iPads were you able to log in on? I couldn’t only ever have the kids on one iPad. I ended up doing the project whole group, but having the commenting as a learning station one day that the kids rotated through. I like how you had the kids comment on the slides as well. That was actually part of the rubric for our project. Students had to make a quality post on at least three other slides to get full credit. One other note about your avatars – we also did this. Only we did it at the start of the year, so students used their ‘handle’ for posting on our classroom blog, Voicethread, and our (pretend) Twitter feed where we worked with vocab words. Having their own screen name was a source of great pride for the kids. It also allowed me to talk about Internet safety, which I feel is super important in this digital age, yet is rarely addressed.

    Thanks for the great post. This is one of my favorite blogs and I follow it regularly. Have a great summer!

  2. umm Ahamd says:


    We have made project on skype education about reptiles, if you are interested to see our big collection of snakes and dragons, and let your class talk to my kids about caring for them, you can contact us. Good post by the way and your blog has helped me a lot in equipping my children for 21st century!


  3. Maxine says:

    I love this, it makes me realize that we are really in a new generation. Even kids do know about the latest gadgets, and it was use in education nowadays.

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Langwitches via Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


Choose a Category

In Need of Professional Development?

Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano for customized workshops, coaching and presentations.
Video Conference sessions available.

For a list of sample sessions visit Globally Connected Learning .

Want to Learn More About iPads in the Classroom?

Professional Learning Board just released a Self-study iPads in the Classroom course I wrote. It is a self-directed course to take in your own time and at your own speed.


Upcoming Books

Like Langwitches on Facebook

Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators

Guest Posts

Augmented Reality that’s “Real” and Focused on Learning


cross posted with permission from Dr. Silvana Meneghini,’s On The Edge Blog. Silvana, the High School Technology Coordinator at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, shared a How-To post to connect augmented reality to student reflection by adding a layer of learning (not technology for technology sake). I highly …


Upgrading Our Recipes for Learning: Digital Learning Strategies


In an attempt to bring  new additions to your Blog reader, I am starting to feature  guest posts on Langwitches. Be assured that these guest posts are from educational bloggers, I highly value and their voices contribute significantly to my own learning. Today I am sharing a blog post and …

(No Comments)

Is Technology shoving Pedagogy to the center stage? TPACK Reviewed


Guest post by Silvana Meneghini, Academic Technology Coordinator, Graded- American School of São Paulo. Originally posted on her blog On the Edge. Pedagogical ideas like student centered learning, collaboration, and critical thinking have been around for a long time and are slowly making the way into the classroom. When technology …


Professional Development

How to Create a Backchannel Exit Ticket for Class, Presentation or Workshop?


This screencast below will show you how to use Google Docs as a backchannel or exit ticket during a presentation, lesson or workshop. Creating a BackChannel or Exit Ticket on Google Docs from langwitches on Vimeo.

(1 Comment)

Redefining My Learning


Silvana Meneghini and I  work as Academic Technology Coordinators at Graded, the American School of São Paulo. ” A flashlight in the fog of technology integration“, initially the title of a conference workshop proposal, quickly developed into the desire of creating a framework to guide and coach teachers based on …

(1 Comment)

SAMR Exercise Google Hangout: Mark Your Calendars


Silvana Meneghini and I  have created a template for technology, learning and literacy coaches. In an effort to create a depository of examples and scenarios for lessons and activities and how an upgrade movement through the stages of the SAMR model actually looks like in the classroom, we are shared …



21st Century Learning

Visible Thinking in Math- Part 1


The conversation about visible thinking in Math started with one of our teachers at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, Adam Hancock, wanting to know how he could incorporate having students’ use their blogfolios in Math class. It seemed natural to have students write for Humanities (Language Arts and …


Redefining My Learning


Silvana Meneghini and I  work as Academic Technology Coordinators at Graded, the American School of São Paulo. ” A flashlight in the fog of technology integration“, initially the title of a conference workshop proposal, quickly developed into the desire of creating a framework to guide and coach teachers based on …

(1 Comment)

Reflection in the Learning Process, Not As An Add On


Is it personality? Are some people born with it? Can it be learned? I am talking about REFLECTION. At the beginning of the week, I had the opportunity to be part of a workshop during our pre-service ( we just returned from our summer break here in the Southern Hemisphere) …


The Digital Learning Farm in Action

Student Tutorials- MineCraft, How to Ride a Horse, iMovie and more


It is no secret, that I am a big fan of Alan November‘s Digital Learning Farm concept. I especially believe in Teaching is the Highest Form of Understanding and the power of motivation and demonstration of evidence of student learning via the Tutorial Designer role. See a myriad of blog …


3 Need-Scenarios to Engage Students with Authentic Tasks


Alan November’s concept of the Digital Learning Farm, asks schools and teachers to empower students by giving them relevant responsibilities that allow them to contribute in  meaningful ways to their learning community (class/school/etc.). How can we give students the opportunity to CONTRIBUTE versus completing projects that end up in the …


Blogging as the Official Scribe of the Classroom


Alan November elevated the “Official Scribe” as one of the roles that empower student learners. I see the role of the scribe as follows: The official scribe plays an important role in the classroom community. Their work is essential for students who were absent from class or need a review …


Global Education

NASA’s Global Selfie Crowdsourced on Earth Day


Today, April 22, 2014, NASA is crowdsourcing Global Selfies. NASA astronauts brought home the first ever images of the whole planet from space. Now NASA satellites capture new images of Earth every second. For Earth Day we are trying to create an image of Earth from the ground up while …

(No Comments)

Selfies Around the World


  On the heels of The Cultural Phenomena of Selfies and  iPhoneography: Photo Challenges, Ideas & Literacy, students from the American School of São Paulo, Brazil want to know more about Selfies around the world. If you and your students would like to CONTRIBUTE with actual images for an in- school and online exhibition …


Julie Lindsay: Designing Engaging Curriculum for Global Collaboration in the Classroom

Following the post:  Note- Taking Learnflow of a Conference Workshop, here is the second story of my curated tweets from a session with Julie Lindsay. My favorite take away from her well run workshop was her quote “Flat learning is a pedagogy”. Amplifying our classroom, allowing students to reach out …

(No Comments)

Blogging With your Classroom

There is More to Blogging with Your Students


There is more to blogging with your students than simply creating a blog and starting to copy and paste work, that traditionally was done on a paper journal or worksheet in the classroom, into that digital space. Blogging is about quality and authentic writing in digital spaces with a global …

(No Comments)

You Have 1 Second to Hook a Potential Reader


If you are blogging with your students, you have been exposed to them. You have been exposed to hundreds of unimaginative, cloned, generic and uninspiring BLOG TITLES. When opening your RSS reader that contains the latest blog posts of your students,  you are confronted with a list, similar to the …

(1 Comment)

Student Led Conferences: Sick and Tired of Blogs & Reflection?


Our students just finished a second round of Student Led Conferences (SLC) this school year (one in Semester 1 and another in Semester 2). SLCs are a formal opportunity for students to present to their parents about the state of their learning. The students’ advisor (a teacher responsible for a …

(1 Comment)


Evaluating iPad Apps


I wanted to take a closer look at the iPad Evaluation I previously blogged about in Evaluating Apps with Transformative Use in Mind. The section of Content and Components deserved a closer look and explanation. You can  download the PDF file of the iPad App Evaluation for the Classroom with …

(1 Comment)

Visible Thinking in Math- Part 1


The conversation about visible thinking in Math started with one of our teachers at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, Adam Hancock, wanting to know how he could incorporate having students’ use their blogfolios in Math class. It seemed natural to have students write for Humanities (Language Arts and …


Self- Directed Course: iPads in the Classroom


Professional Learning Board just released a Self-study  iPads in the Classroom course I wrote. It is a  self-directed course to take in your own time and at your own speed. “You have an iPad in your classroom, now what?” The iPad helps us prepare today’s student for today’s world in …


Digital Storytelling

Poetry on Record


Inspired by Poetry, Performance & Taylor Mali and Beyond…, 8th grade Humanities teacher Shannon Hancock coached her students to create their own original “Mali Poem”and record a visual and vocal performance. I joined the class to give a brief overview of presentation design. I used selected slides from my slidedeck below to …

(No Comments)

Workflow & Learnflow of an Animation Story


After teaching a 1:1 Toolkit class for incoming Middle Schoolers tothe 1:1 laptop environment this past quarter, I am currently teaching a Media Basics course for sixth graders. I am using a school blog to document the class (among others), showcase student work, share resources and give written step-by-step directions …

(No Comments)

My StoryTelling App Folder(s)


Matt Gomez shared a post today with a screenshot of his storytelling iPad app folder. I wanted to reciprocate and share mine. Storytelling I Folder StoryBuddy StoryBuilder StoryPagesHD Toontastic Tappy Memories StoryBoards Premium StoryMaker HD StoryPatch In a World … Drama Build a Story PhotoPuppets HD Epic Citadel Sock Puppets …


%d bloggers like this: