Week 7 Post – New Tool Learned

What tool did you learn this week to assist you in differentiating the learning process for students?

This week we had the task of learning about a tool that could assist in differentiating the learning process for students. My first initial thought was to learn more about the document camera as a tool to differentiate. I thought “Why not? I have it readily available in my classroom for use already!” But then I thought to myself “Challenge yourself, think outside of what is available, and dive into something new.” And so, I did.

The tool I decided to learn this week was Voicethread. Throughout this course I have heard of the wonders of Voicethread and of its various uses. It could even be used at the kindergarten level! Therefore I figured why not delve into it more to see in which ways I could use it for my kinder students. To begin this learning process I first had to learn what Voicethread was.  It all began with a Google search, which then led me directly to the Voicethread site. According to the site, Voicethread is a cloud application in which users can create media, comment on it in a variety of formats, and share with whomever they please. Sounded simple enough, or so I thought. There was and is much more to it than merely creating a file, uploading it, commenting on it, and sharing it.

Integrating a tool such as Voicethread into a classroom, let alone a kindergarten classroom, is a process.  In order for students to understand what is being asked things have to be introduced step by step with repeated instructions along the way. Though I have not introduced Voicethread into my classroom just yet, I have begun the process. The process begins by first introducing students to how to properly use a computer. Many of my students do not have computers at home and thus have limited, if any access to them. During the past few weeks I have slowly begun to integrate more computer use into choice time to teach my students how to properly use the two computers we currently have in our classroom. They needed to be shown how to handle the mouse as well as navigate with it, the keyboard if and when they were to use it, how to open and close a program, and how to be good sports about sharing the use of the computer. Fussing about computer time was one of the biggest problem areas in the first week of introduction to the computers.

The next step that I am currently in the process of introducing is the internet. Many have had experiences with it but do not know much more about it than it is where they get to play games. So far the discussion has revolved around a definition of what the internet is. From here I plan to introduce the various uses for the internet. Though they may be a bit young to understand every piece of this it is more about exposure than a thorough understanding.

Finally, I will begin the Voicethread introduction. I plan on doing so by creating a few presentations using Voicethread and demonstrating its uses through these demonstrations. One such demonstration will include directions for an art activity we will be doing next week and another will be a picture collage that reflects upon our learning from past weeks. I will discuss with them how I created a file, loaded it onto the internet into the Voicethread application, and created the slideshow presentation for them. This demonstration will be revisited after spring break as I demonstrate for them a project I plan to do alongside them as they create a Voicethread to share with their peers that focuses on our fairy tale theme.  The plan is to have them create a fairy tale of their own with a beginning, middle and end that they can produce on paper, upload to Voicethread when finished, narrate their story, and present to the class. It will be a timely project that will be done in small groups during our choice time. If all goes as planned I hope to upload some of the videos to share with others. I am both excited and nervous about how it will all go. Only time will tell.

So, as the famous saying goes, stay tuned for the hardships, joys, and celebrations of integration of Voicthread into my kindergarten classroom. There is much to be learned, much to be excited about, and much to be hopeful for! Hopefully by the end I am still standing and have hair left on my head!

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