DETAIL: Digital Storytelling with VoiceThread

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This tutorial explains how to use VoiceThread digital storytelling technology to address many Common Core State Standards related to reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language.


  • 1.Chicago Public SchoolsDepartment of Educational Technology CPS DETAIL TECHNOLOGY TRAININGDigital Storytelling to Support Comprehensionof Central Themes, Details, and Text Structure

2. What is digital storytelling?Digital stories combine images, drawings, and voice narration to create storiesthat can be shared with others. These stories can be narrative in form orcontain research-based information from across the curriculum. Studentsdevelop skills in creating central story themes, establishing supporting details,and writing scripts that demonstrate an understanding of text structure whileleveraging literary devices to improve the story. Students develop speaking andlistening skills by creating the audio component. They build information andvisual literacy skills, artistic sensibilities, and technology skills while makingdigital photo selections, adding drawn content to the images, and incorporatingnarration. 3. Digital Stories in the ClassroomTeachers can use digital stories to Share research as a digital story Develop writing and speaking skills Foster collaboration between peers Cultivate visual literacy skills Integrate educational technology with the curriculum 4. Using Digital Stories to Address CCSS(Primary Example)Digital stories can be used to address a very wide range of CCSS.A primary grade teacher creates a unit of instruction on nutrition. The students take notes about healthy eating habits based on books they read and instructional videos they watch. The classroom teacher collaborates with the librarian, so part of the notetaking is done in the library. Using a simple, teacher-created, two-column graphic organizer, the students write short reports about what they have learned, breaking them into discreet segments in the right column, creating a storyboard of the planned digital story. Next, in collaboration with the computer teacher, the students identify and download pictures that illustrate each segment of their report. The students upload their images and comment on them, using their report scripts, at the VoiceThread websiteSelected related anchor CCSS: R2, R7, R10, W1 > W10, SL2, SL4, SL5, L1 5. Using Digital Stories to Address CCSS (Intermediate Example)Digital stories can be used to address a very wide range of CCSS.A middle grades social studies teacher creates a unit on Sub-Saharan Africa. In this unit, small groups of students research various aspects of the topic, such as the politics, history, geography, identity, and culture. They use various print and electronic sources to get knowledge, leveraging their time in the library, as well as the classroom. The notes are used to create the scripts of their digital stories. In the classroom or computer lab, students download appropriate images to illustrate their stories. They use the images and scripts to create their VoiceThread digital stories. As a follow-up, students perform peer assessment by commenting appropriately on each others VoiceThreads.Selected related anchor CCSS: R2, R7, R10, W1 > W10, SL2, SL4, SL5, L1 6. Using Digital Stories to Address CCSS (High School Example)Digital stories can be used to address a very wide range of CCSS.A high school history teacher creates a unit of study on the topic of Immigration & the Progressive Era. Students research component topics, such as politics, history, identity, and culture of the time period. They use print and digital resources from their library to get background information. They also use a museum fieldtrip to analyze artifacts of the time and to listen to recorded oral histories of immigrants. They use this information to compare and contrast the experiences of immigrants in that time period with modern immigrants to Chicago based on interviews of people they know and additional research. At each step, they build a collection of relevant images. They prepare formal research papers to share the results of their research and, also, create a companion VoiceThread to tell the fictionalized story of an immigrant of that era who played a unique role in society.Selected related anchor CCSS: R2, R7, R10, W1 > W10, SL2, SL4, SL5, L1 7. Samples of CPS Digital StoriesWilma Rudolph - Byrne Elementary School in Africa Inter-American Magnet Elementary School in Spanish Westinghouse High School Life Cycle of a Plant Pirie Elementary School Daniel Hale Williams Prep 8. Using VoiceThreadDigital stories can be told by using a variety of technologies,including edited video, narrated slideshows, and softwareprograms. This tutorial uses the online tool VoiceThread. Itsadvantages include: Applicability to K 12 educational environments Multiple commenting format to meet various student needs Easy online accessibility Shallow learning curve Ability to safely monitor student activity Availability of a free teacher version 9. Preparing to Make the VoiceThread 10. Step 1: Identify the Purpose of the StoryDetermine the Common Core State Standards and curriculumobjectives that you need to address with this assignment. Payparticular attention to writing and research-related standards.Identify content-related standards that can also beincorporated into the assignment. Use this information tocreate the scope of the assignment for your students. 11. Step 2: Research & Information GatheringResearch-related stories Plan for the research process Incorporate print and digital resources Leverage the librarian, computer teacher, literacy specialist or other partner teachers who can collaborate in the process Use graphic organizers or other note-taking devices to help students keep track of their work Monitor the process to help student summarize their research effectively and cite their sourcesCreative stories Plan for the research process, if needed Help students create a story map or outline to assist inthe planning of their storiesThis step can be a distinct part of the assessment and grading process. 12. Step 3: Create the ScriptDirect students to prepare a script that they plan to use in thecreation of their VoiceThread digital stories. The script can beassess for the use of: Central themes, supporting details, text structure, and employment of literary devices Accurate, cited information that is summarized in the students own words (research-related) Story development (creative writing)This step can be a distinct part of the assessment and grading process. 13. Step 4: StoryboardsStoryboards can be used to plan the digital story. This step canbe done in conjunction with the script-writing or separately. Use the storyboard to identify visual images needed for the story and to separate the script into segments. A simple, teacher-made blank, gridded table with two columns is often sufficient. There are many other storyboard templates available on the Internet. In VoiceThread, it is possible to extend one segment of narration across multiple visual images.This step can be a distinct part of the assessment and grading process. 14. Step 5: Getting ImagesThere are a variety of ways to get images for use inVoiceThread. Consider partnering with the librarian, computerteacher, or another collaborating teacher for this phase. Tobuild digital citizenship responsibilities, make sure students useimages for which they have permission. Images with CreativeCommons licensing are the easiest to use. Have students savethe URLs of these images and include them in the final slide oftheir VoiceThreads. See the following slides for moreinformation.This step can be a distinct part of the assessment and grading process. 15. Step 5a: Creative Commons LicensingCreative Commons Licensingis a way to assign rights forothers to use your images orother digital artifacts in amanner you approve. Learnmore about the types of freelicenses at 16. Step 5b: Use the Flickr Creative Commons 17. Step 5c: Custom Images Searches Heres a Google advanced image search which can be filtered for usage rights. 18. Step 5d: Your Own ImagesUse your ownimages takenby your owncameras 19. Step 5e: PowerPoint Slides Create your slides within PowerPoint and save the slides as .JPGs. In this way, images can be edited or combined with text and shapes, to make interesting slides. 20. Creating theVoiceThread 21. Step 6: Create a VoiceThread AccountCreate a free K-12 VTEducator Account at only one teacheraccount. Although VoiceThreadalso has paid accounts, it isadvised to begin with a freeaccount. This module explainshow to use the FREE version. Ifyou decide to later get a paidversion, you will see differentfunctionality listed under ClassSubscription. 22. Step 6: Log Into the AccountLog into the account at http://voicethread.comand set up your profile. 23. Step 7: Watch the Informational VideoAt , watch an overview video to learnmore and familiarize yourself with thesupport portal. Click on the Browselink to see VoiceThreads created byothers. When ready, go to and click onthe Create button. [Note: Only paidaccounts work under website.] 24. Step 8: Upload Your ImagesClick on the Create buttonto be taken to the area tomake the VoiceThread.Upload images from yourcomputer or other sources.Highlight images torotate, add a link, adda title, replace, ordelete.Sort images to bydragging and droppingto the preferred order. 25. Step 9: Add Your VoiceAdd narration by phone (3min limit), webcam,microphone, typing, or fileupload. Aheadset/microphone device isusually the easiest to use in aclassroom setting. Click thearrow to advance slides. Youcan add audio to each slideindividually or narrate overslides as you advance them. 26. Step 10: Add DrawingsIf desired, you can free-hand draw over the imagewhile talking. Click on acolor selection, whencommenting, and move themouse over the image todraw while makingcomments. 27. Step 11: Share Your VoiceThreadShare your VoiceThread with your contacts or get a linkto share with others. 28. Step 12: Make Additional Sharing Decisions Determine playback and publishing options or get the embed code 29. Step 13: VoiceThread Classroom LogisticsFree VT Educator accounts allow up to 50 VoiceThreads to be created under oneteacher account. With the free VT Educator account, the following classroomprocedures are recommended: All activities leading up to the actual creation of the VoiceThreads canbe done as full-group activities The VoiceThreads should be created by each student individually or bysmall groups working together at one computer. The teacher should loginto the account and not share the password with students. You cannotlog into two computers with the same account simultaneously. It is possible to create various student identities within the main teacheraccount, if desired. (See next slide) Monitor students as they work. Be aware that students will have accessto the work of other students. Students should be advised to only edittheir own VoiceThread. 30. Step 14: Creating Account IdentitiesIf desired, create identitiesto distinguish the work ofvarious students. Use firstnames only. Use a pictureprovided by VoiceThread orhave students use an avatar1. Under your login name, generator to create their click the arrow to own cartoon images. activate the drop-down menu and select My Identities2. Click on Add an Identity3. Type the students first name or a nickname. Select an image, if desired. 31. Step 15: VoiceThread MobileCheck out for informationon using VoiceThread on iOS devices 32. Step 16: More Digital Storytelling platformsOnce youve tried VoiceThread, you may want to continue withthis easy and effective digital storytelling platform. Othertechnologies to investigate in the future include: Microsoft Photostory (download to computer) Movie Maker or iMovie or CamStudio (movie editing, download to computer) PowerPoint with narration Various iPad apps, such as StoryKit, Toontastic, and Screen Chomp PicLits, Storybird, Animoto, Zooburst, and other web- based programs.