Students here at Cybermiddle have an interesting opportunity that students in many other schools don’t have: Every student has their own Ed Voicethread account! Your teachers can provide you with your username and password so you can participate in ongoing conversations with other students about the topics that you are studying.
Students can also create their own conversations—which might make for really interesting products for projects! Wouldn’t it be cool to show your teachers what you know about a topic by engaging in a conversation with your friends where you debated the pros and the cons of something you were studying in class?
Sure seems a lot more interesting than making a diorama!
In order to create a thread of your own, however, you have to work through a few steps. They include:
Working through the "Gimmie a Thread" training tutorials: These tutorials are posted in the resources section at the bottom of this blog post. They cover the steps for creating and moderating a Voicethread conversation—and are incredibly important because they include specific settings and directions that you must follow.
While viewing these tutorials, you must complete this viewing guide:
Filling out the "Gimmie a Thread" permission slip: Before you can create your own Voicethread conversation, you have to fill out a permission slip that details the topic for your conversation, the users that you plan to invite to your conversation and the sources that you plan to use to find images for your conversation.
You can download a copy of the permission slip here:
Filling out the "Gimmie a Thread" tracking form: In order to keep track of the conversations going on here at our school, every student interested in moderating their own thread must complete this online form. That way, teachers can be updated whenever new conversations are started by their students.
Use Copyright-Free images: Images–like books–are often protected by copyright. That means you cannot simply Google for images and use what you find. Instead, you must search for images that photographers have made available for use without permissions or copyright protections. You can find sources for such images in the resources section at the bottom of this blog post.
We want every interested student to give moderating a Voicethread conversation a whirl in their time at Cybermiddle school—but it is important that you learn to act in a safe and responsible way while working online. These steps will help to ensure that you can be proud of everything that you produce because it will be of high quality—and it will keep everyone involved protected.
Bam Bam Bigelow
RESOURCES FOR STUDENT TRAINING:
Tutorial 1: Creating a Voicethread presentation
Tutorial 2: Moderating a Voicethread Presentation
Sources for Copyright Free images:
The following websites are excellent sources of images for Voicethread presentations:
Utter the word Wikipedia in most schools and you’ll be met with grumbles, won’t you? Most teachers see Wikipedia—the free online encyclopedia maintained by thousands of Internet users—as the root of all digital evil! "It’s unreliable!" we cry. "You can’t trust the content that you find there." And while some of those arguments may be true, Wikipedia users are some of the most open content creators in the world. Wikimedia connects to a collection of images and videos posted in Wikipedia that are often copyright free—or free for use in most situations with nothing more than a citation of the original source. This site will introduce you to the Wikimedia collection, which is sorted by category and nothing short of impressive.
Like Wikimedia, Morguefile is designed as a warehouse of images that are copyright free and available to any user for any project with little restriction. The photographers who share their images in Morguefile are working to create a set of reference images on common topics for the world to use. They take great satisfaction in lowering the barrier to incorporating high quality photography into school-related projects and often only request an image citation or an email for a picture to be used. As described on Morguefile’s website, "The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits. This is the world wide web’s morguefile."
Flickr Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/
Flickr is another one of those websites that has probably earned its share of grumble from teachers and district technology leaders in your community, right? Chances are that it may even be blocked by your district’s firewall! And while there are legitimate reasons for concern with Flickr—users can definitely find inappropriate content posted by others!—Flickr also has an absolutely INCREDIBLE collection of images that photographers have made available under "creative commons" licensing. Images found in Flickr’s creative commons gallery can literally be used for almost any project that is related to education with nothing more than a credit to the original photographer.
While students in middle and elementary school should never be encouraged to explore Flickr without adult guidance, teachers can easily create collections of images for students to choose from for any project and make them available on classroom or school wikis. Because the quality of the images shared in Flickr are so remarkable—and the size of the Flickr CC collection is huge—this is a resource that teachers are going to want to explore when creating Voicethread presentations.
The Library of Congress Print Reading Room: http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/catalog.html
Recognizing the changing nature of new media, the Library of Congress is working to make as many images as possible available to users in a digital format. This link connects to the Library of Congress’s Print Reading Room, which contains almost a million digital images. What makes these images particularly valuable is that they are grouped into user-friendly categories like "People," "History," and "The Environment."
NASA’s Image Gallery: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/index.html
One governmental agency that takes remarkable pictures is NASA…and we shouldn’t be surprised! Heck, they’ve got some serious cameras in some seriously amazing places, don’t they? This link connects to NASA’s image gallery, which contains thousands of pictures that your children will find fascinating. With a few clicks of the mouse, you’ll be able to find shots of stars, planets and space craft that will spark your imagination—and (like all images taken by government organizations), these pictures are a part of the common domain and not subject to copyright protections.