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I’ve just started using a great new tool for student learning, revision and assessment. It’s called “Voicethread” and it allows registered users unlimited free use for educational purposes. You can quickly and easily upload images (either from your own computer, Flickr or other copyright free sources) and anyone can add comments as text or as a voice recording. It does not require you to download any software and you don’t need to fiddle with sound files – it’s as easy as talking into a microphone! Students can easily register individually or a teacher can add alternate identities to their own account. To maintain student privacy I asked our students to upload an avatar image (created with assistance from our IT guru, Anne M.) and only use their first names.

 I think it’s uses are only limited by your imagination – so far, I have taken photos of my student’s water cycle posters and asked each of them to annotate each of the labelled processes. This revealed that many had not understood the terms – condensation, precipitation, transpiration and percolation. This tool enables the teacher to individualise learning as you can listen to the student’s comment and respond in your own time. I have also used it as a review of our science unit “Separating Mixtures”. I took photos of each stage in the process of separating a mixture of iron filings, rice, sand and salt and also took pictures of distillation equipment and a separating funnel. Students were asked to describe what was happening in each stage of the process.

The third project I have created is one about Australian Animals  – My students will write a short script about one of the pictured animals and their structural, functional and behavioural adaptations. A year 7 science teacher in New York is collaborating with me on this one – his students will talk about american animals and each class will design a camouflage to enable up-close research on a specific animal from the other student’s country. So they will need to understand the physical features, functional characteristics and behavioural traits that enable each animal to survive in their respective environments.

I think it would be a great tool to use for poetry – students choose images, write a poem and then read the poem. It could be used for art appreciation, telling children’s stories, acting out comic strips, history projects, biographies….. great for students who prefer not to put pen to paper ( I have a few of those!) and some who need to practise their ‘public’ speaking in a safe environment.