Indiana Reading Journal Volume 44 Issue 1 - Page 38

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Create--compiling information in new ways, generating new ideas, and proposing alternate solutions

CCAS-W 1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

CCAS-W 2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

CCAS-W 6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

CCAS-W 7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based

on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

(NGA Center & CCSSO, 2010b, p. 18).

Preparing students for our changing world calls for students to leverage technologies to support deeper levels of thinking. Technology-rich environments have shown a positive effect on the acquisition of HOTS (Hopson, Simms, & Knezek, 2001). Targeting web tools that support thinking within the top three levels of this framework (Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating) is necessary for today’s teachers who primarily use technology for lower-level curriculum tasks (Maddux & Johnson, 2006) and often feel inadequately supported when it comes to curricular technology integration (Hutchison & Reinking, 2011).

In this column I explore an online tool, VoiceThread, for supporting both literacy and Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) within a technology-rich classroom environment. In doing so, I first provide an overview of the VoiceThread tool. I then offer three curriculum opportunities for using VoiceThread as a tool to support digital literacy—each aligned to new standards and a HOTS level of Bloom’s (analyzing, evaluating, creating). Finally, I include a “Give it a Try!” feature within each suggested use that offers immediate steps teachers can take to implement key ideas.

Overview of VoiceThread

VoiceThread is one of many Web 2.0 tools. It is a cloud application hosted through the Internet, requires no software, and offers a rich commenting feature.

According to McLoughlin & Lee (2007) social software, such as VoiceThread, offer affordances for students including a sense of presence and social rapport, collaborative environments for information discovery, and platforms to create content (p. 667).

Within VoiceThread, students can participate through text-based, speech, video discussions, or audio-file upload allowing five options for commenting within 15 file types. Teachers can upload images, presentations, video clips, documents, or a combination of files to create individual VoiceThreads. Figure 2, a screenshot taken from the introductory video (see: http://tinyurl.com/ed-voicethread), showcases these listed features.

Figure 2:

Commenting Feature in VoiceThread