Presenting & Archiving

Presentation and Archiving

Presentation and archiving tools allow students to present projects to the instructor, to the class, or to the general public. Communication tools also factor heavily into this phase of project-based collaborative learning.  Oftentimes the co-creation tool will also be used as the presentation tool but there are some collaborative technology tools that are mainly used for sharing or downloading the presentation.


SlideShare – Teachers or students can upload documents and presentations to SlideShare to share ideas, conduct research, connect with others or make their presentation public. Anyone can view presentations & documents on topics that interest them, download them and reuse or remix for their own work.

Google Slides – Students can create beautiful slides with the presentation editor, which supports things like embedded videos, animations and dynamic slide transitions. Publish the presentations on the web so anyone can view them, or share them with a chosen group of users.  (Updated note:  If you have previously published Google Presentations using the “old” Google Docs – before the transition to Google Drive – you might want to go through and make sure that they are still marked as “published to the web” otherwise users may not be able to view your presentations.)  Users can also upload presentations made with PowerPoint or Keynote into Google Slides but some formatting or animations may be lost.

VoiceThread:  A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice through a Facebook Fan Page (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). VoiceThread is a perfect platform to use when you want to share presentations using an asynchronous method. Users can doodle while commenting, use multiple identities, and pick which comments are shown through moderation. VoiceThreads can even be embedded to show and receive comments on other websites.  K-16 VoiceThread examples.

Prezi:  Prezi is a virtual whiteboard that transforms presentations where images and words work together to present an idea or lesson.  With Prezi Meeting, teams can collaborate live or simply present prezis with up to 10 people in a prezi at one time. Prezi Meeting is included in all license types.

Haiku Deck (iPad app) and the newly updated Haiku Deck Web enables anyone to create beautiful slide presentations.  Haiku Deck intentionally limits how much text that you can put on each of your slides and it helps you find Creative Commons licensed images for your presentations. When you type a word or words on your slides you can have Haiku Deck search for images for you. The images that Haiku Deck serves up are large enough to completely fill your slide. You can also upload your own images from your iPad or import images from Instagram and Facebook.  Another excellent presentation app is Keynote.



Students can build project sites without writing a single line of code using Google Sites. It’s as easy as writing a document and to save time, teachers can provide students with pre-built templates. Students can present their content and embed in all sorts of gadgets from documents to videos to images to shared calendars and more.  Student or teacher-created websites are also great for archiving student projects from year to year.

Some other easy website creation tools are:  WixWeebly for EducationYola and Webs.


Screencasting:  A screencast is a digital recording (movie) that captures actions taking place on a computer desktop or tablet device.  Screencasting is another asynchronous platform for creating and sharing presentations or tutorials.  The movies can be embedded or shared by the link.  Screencasts are very popular with the “flipped classroom” or “reverse instruction” programs.

There a lot of free apps out on the web for screencasting, most of which also have paid versions that provide more capabilities.  Screencast-O-Matic was one of the first screencasting tools published and is still around (and kept up to date).  It works with both the Mac and the PC and requires no installation.  The same folks who make Camtasia (paid software) make Jing – a popular app that lets you easily capture screen activity, record voice-over, and publish clips up to 5 minutes long. Screenr is another popular, free, web-based screencasting tool that works with the Mac and PC.


Miscellaneous publishing or presentation tools:

  • Animoto (Education edition) is an easy way to create and share videos. The online video maker turns your photos, video clips and music into video in minutes.
  • Glogster EDU allows students to combine images, video, music, photos and audio to create multimedia pages. Glogs can be embedded into any webpage.
  • Issuu and Scribd are digital publishing platforms of user-created magazines, catalogs, and newspapers.
  • Museum Box provides the tools for students to build up an argument or description of an event, person or historical period by placing items in a virtual box. You can add text, images, video and sound to the side of the cubes.
  • iBooks Author is a Mac app that allows anyone to create multi-touch textbooks or books to be viewed on the iPad.
  • Snapguide is a free iOS app and web service for those that want to create and share step-by-step “how to guides.”

Co-Creation & Ideation Tools

Co-creation and ideation tools facilitate the most direct interaction between team members on the goals or desired outcomes of the project. Using these tools, participants can often work in groups directly editing or building the project artifact.  Several of these tools are the same ones used for project management – which is great – because the students will already be familiar with the interface.

Google Apps for Education A group of students can work together on an in Google Docs and Spreadsheets, seeing changes in real time and even discuss the process or comment right within the tool.  Everything is automatically saved in the cloud which means that documents, presentations and sites can be accessed – and edited – on almost any mobile device, computer or tablet.

Group members can edit documents, presentations or websites with images, videos, tables, drawings, or links and teachers or other students can give feedback by adding comments. The discussion feature (now available in Spreadsheet and Presentations as well as Docs) allows team members to talk about the project, what to do, how its going, etc right within the project.  You can even use the Research tool right within Documents to search for content on the web. Google Sites can be used as a portfolio or as a place to embed and showcase student projects. As a teacher you can create a template of a Site that contains directions, examples, links to resources and helpful tips and then have your students make a copy of the site.   This productivity suite was made for collaboration!  Other collaboration suites are:  Zoho Docs  and Microsoft 365.

Google Apps Examples:

  • Spanish students worked collaboratively to create a newspaper with a variety of articles: “LA PRENSA DE LAS PANTERAS”
  • Students use a Google form to collect data about the relationship between your height and wingspan to prove or disprove Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man”
  • Students researched Biomes and various projects were embedded into a Google Site

WikispacesWikispaces: A wiki is a website which allows its users to add, modify, or delete its content via a web browser.  On a wiki students can share work and ideas, pictures and links, videos and media.  A wiki can be made public so anyone can edit the space or limited to just a class or a few participants.  Many different types of projects can be embedded in a wiki so they work well for showcasing projects made with other tools like:  videos, documents, polls, calendars, maps and specific Web 2.0 tools where you can get the HTML embed code (example:  Google Presentations, VoiceThread). Wikispaces provides free wikis for teachers and they do not contain ads. Don’t forget the tips for collaborative projects using Wikispaces. Another wiki option is PBWorks.

Wiki Examples:

  • High School online collaborative writing wiki
  • Elementary students in Auckland, New Zealand are using part of their class wiki as a blog and the other half to showcase student-created projects.
  • wiki to showcase student-made math movies


Evernote is a great tool for students and teachers to capture notes, save research, collaborate on projects, snap photos of whiteboards, record audio and more. Everything you add to your account is automatically synced and made available on all the computers, phones and tablets you use.  Notebooks can then be shared with group members and accessed from anywhere.

Evernote Examples:

  • Elementary grade students use Evernote for student portfolios
  • Here is a blog post how a Librarian uses Evernote as a research tool.


MeetingWords is a very simple text editor for the web. Your text is saved on the web, and more than one person can edit the same document at the same time. Everybody’s changes are instantly reflected on all screens.  You can work together on notes, brainstorming sessions, homework, etc.

Other content creation options:

VoiceThread:  A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice through a Facebook Fan Page (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too. Users can doodle while commenting, use multiple identities, and pick which comments are shown through moderation. VoiceThreads can even be embedded to show and receive comments on other websites and exported to MP3 players or DVDs to play as archival movies. (  Here is a wiki with VoiceThread examples:

  Prezi is a virtual whiteboard that transforms presentations where images and words work together to present an idea or lesson.  You can work together on the same prezi in real-time. With Prezi Meeting, teams can collaborate live or simply present prezis with up to 10 people in a prezi at one time. Prezi Meeting is included in all license types.




Ideation is the process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas.  There are several technology tools that support this brainstorming process.

Mindmeister:  You can work with multiple users simultaneously on the same mind map. All collaborators will be shown in the map footer if they are working on the same mind map. You can turn on the History View to see what changes have been done by which users. You can share your mind maps with a single collaborator, group, or public.  You can give presentations directly from MindMeister either online to other collaborators or with a projector.

Popplet:  Popplet is a place to collect ideas.  Its very simple to use easy great for younger kids.  You can collect inspiration, record thoughts, explore ideas, create galleries. Popplets share be shared and collaborated in real time.

Padlet:  (formerly called Wallwisher) is a super easy way to collect ideas, images, and multimedia onto a simple “wall”.  Works great on tablets too.

Other mind-mapping tools: Webspiration Classroom and Creately (paid)

Creative Commons / Copyfriendly Images/Audio/Music

Discuss with students how we can honor intellectual property by searching the web for “copyfriendly” images to use for collaborative projects.  Help students to understand that all of their work – whether digital or not – is copyrighted the minute they create it. You do not need a © symbol to copyright your work.  You created it – you own it!

I like to appeal to the creative musicians, photographers and artists in my classes.  I try to help students understand that they can CHOOSE to share their creations and still maintain ownership.  This leads to a discussion about Creative Commons licensing.  If a student is willing to share their work to be remixed, changed or altered they must decided whether to allow commercial use or not.  Going through the process of choosing a license for their own work reinforces the concept of “honoring” the intentions of the other content-creators.

Inevitably, a student brings up the concept of “fair use” and wonders why they can’t just so a Google image search for their school-related assignments.  Its at this point that we talk about the purpose of citations for school work – that citing an image for a PowerPoint or presentation means that you are not taking credit for having made the image used and are indicating on the Works Cited page who is the original owner.

This discussion helps students to understand that under fair use laws, teachers must still follow certain rules:

  • I will include a notice that the materials are protected by copyright
  • I will use technology that reasonably limits the students’ ability to retain or further distribute the materials
  • I will make the materials available to the students only for a period of time that is relevant to the context of a class session.

Sure, there are always going to be those who think that if its on the Internet then they should be able to use it. But presenting Copyright vs. Creative Commons in a way that explains WHY and focus on HONORING the work of others, gets kids thinking about themselves as content-creators and how they would feel if someone “stole” their work and made money off it.

My all-time favorite resource to share with students is Joyce Valenza’s CopyFriendly Resource Page.

Library of Congress lesson plan: Childhood Poverty


Last week I attended a two-day Primary Source workshop from the Library of Congress sponsored by NCCE.  During the course of the workshop we looked through all the fabulous resources gathered by the Library of Congress.  There is so much information its a bit overwhelming at first – but once you dive into it you begin to understand the search features.

On the main LOC website you will see the main collections divided into 9 sections.  I especially found the Prints & Photographs, American Memory, Manuscripts and Veteran’s History sections to be helpful.  Make sure you check out the Teacher’s section because the LOC has already curated their collections into Primary Source sets and Themed Resources.

We use the analysis worksheets to help us review the primary sources – there is also a helpful Teacher’s Guide to assist you in using Primary Sources.

Each workshop attendee create a lesson plan using Primary Sources.  The focus of my lesson was using primary source photographs as a discussion around the theme of childhood poverty.  Our school’s theme next year is childhood poverty and this summer every student is choosing to read The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls or The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore.  My lesson is to look at primary source photographs and compare them to the characters in the novels and then create a VoiceThread narrative project emphasizing how economic, cultural and geographic condition factor into poverty.

Click here to download the Childhood Poverty Lesson plan

Activity Name Childhood Poverty
Activity Overview
Big Understanding: Poverty affects both children and adults
Essential Question(s): 

  • How does poverty affect children in terms of economics, culture and geography?
  • How has poverty changed throughout history?
  • How would my life been different if I grew up in poverty?

Standards (State or National) Oregon Grade 9 – Social Studies 3.6.1 

Analyze and evaluate the impact of economic, cultural or environmental factors that result in changes to population of cities, countries, or regions.

Oregon Grade 9 – Language Arts 2.5

Listen to and Read Informational and Narrative Text: Skill To Support the Standard: (For the purpose of noting key skills that support classroom instruction of the standards) Understand and draw upon a variety of comprehension strategies as needed–re-reading, self-correcting, summarizing, class and group discussions, generating and responding to essential questions, making predictions, and comparing information from several sources.

Oregon Grade 9 – Technology 3.A

Students select and apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, validate, and use information.

Time Required 3-5 class periods
Objectives Students will analyze primary documents to identify signs of childhood poverty. 

Students will propose scenarios of how the child in the images was affected by poverty in terms of economic, culture or geography.

Students will reflect how their life would have been different if they had been affected by extreme poverty.

Preparation Background lesson:  Students have chosen to read one of the novels:  The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls or The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore for their summer reading selection. 


Copy analyzing photographs and print worksheet

Copy VoiceThread graphic organizer

Set up VoiceThread accounts.

Gathering microphones for recording


Procedure Engage prior knowledge:  Discuss themes from novels.  What struck you about the experiences of the characters?  How did poverty affect their lives? 

Analyzing Prints from Library of Congress

Access the When They Were Young collection of prints from the Library of Congress.  Locate images that show children in poverty.

Use the Analyzing photographs worksheet to make observations, reflections and questions about the images.

Question Prompts:


Describe what you see.

What do you notice first about the children?

What is the physical setting?  What, if any, words do you see?

What other details can you see?


Why do you think this image was made?

What’s happening in the image?

How does this represent poverty?  How do you know?

When do you think it was made? Who do you think was the audience for this image?

What can you learn from examining this image?

What’s missing from this image?  If someone made this today, what would be different? What would be the same?


What do you wonder about… who? what? when? where?  why? how?

Compare the primary source images to the images you created in your mind to the novel you read for Summer Reading:  The Glass Castle or The Other Wes Moore.

Discuss:  How are they the same?  How are they different?


In pairs, students will choose an image related to poverty from the Library of Congress website to save.

Students will write up a scenario of how the child in the image was affected by poverty in terms of economic, culture or geography. Each pair of students will record a short 1 minute story about their chosen primary source using Audacity.

Students will upload their image and audio recording into one slide of the class VoiceThread project.

Classmates will be required to visit one slide of the class VoiceThread project and make a comment on the story by either asking a question about their story or adding their own comment.  Students could also add comments about the novels they read and relate it to the scenarios.

Hint:  Use the following sentence starters to shape your thoughts and comments while viewing or participating in the VoiceThread presentations. Comments based on these kinds of statements make VoiceThread project interactive and engaging.

  • This reminds me of…
  • This is similar to…
  • I wonder…
  • I realized…
  • I noticed…
  • You can relate this to…
  • I’d like to know…
  • I’m surprised that…
  • If I were ________, I would ______________
  • If __________ then ___________
  • Although it seems…
  • I’m not sure that…


Assessment/Reflection Use graphic organizer to respond to the class VoiceThread project.

The organizer includes questions such as:

  • Highlight a comment from our Voicethread conversation that closely matches your own thinking. Why does this comment resonate—or make sense to—you?
  • Highlight a comment from our Voicethread conversation that you respectfully disagree with. If you were to engage in a conversation with the commenter, what evidence/argument would you use to persuade them to change their point of view?
  • Highlight a comment from our Voicethread conversation that challenged your thinking in a good way and/or made you rethink one of your original ideas. What about the new comment was challenging? What are you going to do now that your original belief was challenged? Will you change yoru mind? Will you do more researching/thinking/talking with others?
  • Highlight the strand of conversation from our Voicethread conversation that was the most interesting or motivating to you. Which ideas would you like to have more time to talk about? Why? What new topics does this conversation make you want to study next?


See ya at NECC in DC!

NECC Hands-On Workshop
Using VoiceThread for Interactive Projects – [Formal Session: BYOL]
Tuesday, 6/30/2009, 3:30pm–4:30pm

Prepare for our session by collecting images for practice project. I selected some images from FlickrStorm (Creative Commons licensing) that you can download for our workshop or bring your own.

PC or Mac users should download Audacityfor audio recording and editing. Consider bringing a headset with microphone for recording audio comments.


Directory of Classroom partners for VoiceThread projects

voicethread.pngA year ago I began the VoiceThread 4 Education wiki.   It has grown into such an incredible resource for educators who are looking for real VoiceThread samples from classrooms of all grade levels and subject areas.

The VoiceThread Ning is another great place to meet other educators who love using VoiceThread.

At the suggestion of Brad Wilson, I added a new page to the VoiceThread 4 Education wiki: Classroom Partners. On this page, educators can add their contact information, VoiceThread project description, project dates and grade level if they are looking for collaborators on projects.

Consider adding your information and help spread the news about this directory. Thanks!

Join the conversation

Voicethread Project: Reflections on educational technology.

Directions: Take a moment to browse through the quotes on the following VoiceThread slides. Choose one that speaks to you and reflect upon its meaning. Add your reflection to the slide by recording a comment with the phone feature, voice recording, webcam recording or by typing . Feel free to comment on more than one slide if you’d like. Thank you for participating.

Connect Article published

logoI’m thrilled that Saint Mary’s Press asked me to write an article about technology in Catholic Schools for their January edition of CONNECT: A free newsletter for high school religion teacher, campus ministers and principals.

In this issue of Connect, Colette Cassinelli, of Valley Catholic Middle and High School in Beaverton, Oregon, introduces some manageable ways to use technology that can significantly enhance the learning experiences of our students. In doing so, she illustrates that it is possible to take steps into the world of education and technology without being completely overwhelmed by the possibilities that seem to multiply every day. Our own use of technology for learning can model to our students how they can use technology in responsible and useful ways.

In the feature article, Colette introduces the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS) and gives examples of ways to make these standards come alive. In “Making It Happen,” she gives more in-depth descriptions of using technology in the high school classroom.

Feature Article | Making It Happen | Resources | From Saint Mary’s Press

Catholic Educators and Twenty-first-Century Learning
by Colette Cassinelli

Everywhere around us the world is changing. Business, politics, and journalism are being transformed by rapid changes in technology, and education is slowly seeing technology’s potential. Catholic educators today must embrace a new pedagogy and embed collaborative technologies for a new society of learners.

Students in our classrooms today differ from those who came before them. Educational theorist Marc Prensky calls these students “digital natives.” They are well versed in the uses of computers, cell phones, digital cameras, and text messaging. They think and process information in a fundamentally different way than previous generations. The Pew Internet and American Life Project (2007) found that 64 percent of online teenagers (ages 12-17) engaged in at least one type of Web content creation, such as blogs and photo and media sharing. These students are creative, smart, and most of all, networked, and they want their education to be and feel meaningful, worthwhile, and relevant to the future.

Educational consultant Ian Jakes states, “The primary task of the educational system must be to give learners the right tools and provide them with a critical mind so that they can ask the right questions and make the right connections. The problem is that the world is not the stable, static place it once was. The world has changed and continues to change.”

How can we as Catholic educators adopt these new tools and contemplate ways the interactive Web can enhance our own practices and student learning? How can we encourage students to be lifelong learners and discover the power of self-learning? How do we rethink our curriculum and embed twenty-first-century skills into our teaching to create authentic learning tasks?

It is an overwhelming undertaking, and many of us educators who did not grow up with technology (Marc Prensky calls us “Digital Immigrants”) are hesitant to change and have no clear road map for how to begin.

National Technology Standards for Students (NETS)
An excellent place to start is with the newly refreshed National Technology Standards for Students (2007) outlined by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The new NETS provide a framework for educators to use as they transition schools from Industrial Age to Digital Age places of learning. These new standards focus on skills and knowledge that students need to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly digital society. They focus on cognitive skills, as netsswell as creativity and innovation. These are the six standard areas:

  1. creativity and innovation
  2. communication and collaboration
  3. research and information fluency
  4. critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making
  5. digital citizenship
  6. technology operations and concepts

All educators want their students to be creative and innovative. We embrace collaboration among our students because sharing knowledge enhances student learning. We provide opportunities for our students not only to be able to access information efficiently but also to be able to evaluate sources and synthesize the content. We desire to challenge our students to think critically and understand all aspects of a problem before making decisions. We insist that our students be responsible and ethical citizens of a digital world and leave behind “digital footprints” that represent moral and upright citizens. We hope that our students will be technologically prepared for a job in the future that we can’t even imagine yet.

Each of the standards outlined by ISTE contains simple and easy to implement technology skills. First, begin by examining your curriculum and identifying areas where you want your students to demonstrate understanding. Focus on student learning rather than on your teaching practice. Look for opportunities where students can embrace creative expression and share ideas digitally through written or multimedia formats. Start small–you do not need to embrace everything at once! Find a network of other teacher-learners like the online forum found at Classroom 2.0 ( and explore new technology tools together. (This Web site does a good job explaining that we have experienced the “Web 1.0” as a one-way means of getting information. “Web 2.0” is a new phase in Internet usage, allowing a two-way exchange of information, meaning that all of us can post material on the Internet and shape its content.)

Creativity and innovation. The proliferation of free Web 2.0 tools on the Internet provides educators with ample opportunity for students to be engaged in creative and unique ways. Digital storytelling is now easier than ever with free downloadable software like Microsoft’s PhotoStory 3 or by visiting Web-based programs like These tools allow students to upload images, audio, and narration for personal narratives, to demonstrate understanding of a skill presented in class, or to share stories from school events. VoiceThread projects take it a step further and allow classmates to comment and create conversations around digital images–either in a private or public forum.

Communication and collaboration. Another great way to encourage collaboration among students is to use a wiki for classroom instruction. A wiki is a simple, easy-to-use Web page that anyone can edit. Students can document the steps of a science experiment, participate in collaborative story writing, or list Web sites used for a research paper. The power of a wiki is the collaborative nature of the technology, and any student can add her changes to the document. The revision history is automatically saved so it can easily be reverted back to a previous version if necessary. Many wiki Web sites, like Wikispaces, will give educators free access with no ads.

Technology integration. One place to start with technology integration is among professional activities for your faculty and staff. With Google Apps for Education, schools can set up e-mail, a calendar, and collaboration tools right from the browser. Administrators and educators can work together on documents uploaded to shared “Google Docs and Spreadsheets” and assign editing rights to facilitate synchronous writing. Google Apps for Education is free, with no advertising, and is easy to manage because there is no hardware or software to maintain. You can even customize your search page with your school name and resources you want made available to your school community (calendar, news feeds, announcements, etc.). After staff members see the power of sharing documents among themselves, then teachers can embrace this same type of collaboration with their students.

Digital citizenship. When implementing any type of technology into the curriculum, it is critical to simultaneously teach and demonstrate appropriate digital citizenship. We want our students to be safe online, so it is best to have students and parents sign “acceptable use” agreements before allowing students to use Web 2.0 sites (note that some sites require students to be thirteen). Students should use only first names, no identifying descriptions such as age or school name, and consider using avatars (a computer user’s self-representation as a two-dimensional icon or a three-dimensional model) or icons instead of real photos. Along with digital literacy, teachers can also address serious topics such as cyberbullying and online safety when using social-networking sites.
Digital Fluency
Most of all, we want our students to be digitally fluent inside and outside the classroom. We want them to see learning as a lifelong goal, not something that only happens inside a classroom. Learning is an active process with the learner at its center. Technology can provide unprecedented opportunities to explore new areas and can actively engage students in a wider range of projects than have ever been possible before. As Thomas Friedman states in his book, The World Is Flat, “the most important ability you can develop in a flat world is the ability to ‘learn how to learn’–to constantly absorb, and teach yourself, new ways of doing old things or new ways of doing new things” (page 302). As Catholic educators, we can use technology to excite and inspire these “digital natives” and lead them down a road to developing their own passion and curiosity.

Expanding the Uses of Technology
by Colette Cassinelli

Computer class is not just about learning how to format Word documents, write formulas in Excel, or make a PowerPoint anymore. It’s about using creativity and communication tools to challenge students to dig deeper and further student learning with real-world lessons. While I may teach students how to use various technological tools in the ways I describe, they can be applied across the curriculum.

Students learn best when they are fully engaged in classroom activities. I believe that as Catholic educators we must ensure that materials we use in class are relevant to our students’ lives and emphasize ways that learning can be applied in real-life situations. I like to present students in my computer classes with tasks that are authentic, built on life experiences, and use real-world technology tools. My desire is to have activities that provoke the curiosity of students but at the same time produce relevant, high-quality digital products.

Long-Distance Interviewing via Skype
Chad Lehman, a K-5 library media specialist from Wisconsin, posted a plea on the Classroom 2.0 online forum looking for teachers from other states to collaborate on a state project he was doing with his fourth graders. As part of their research on the fifty states, he wanted each fourth grader to interview someone about what it’s like to live in that state and what they like best about living there. I replied to Mr. Lehman that my seventh grade students would love to participate. I downloaded a program called Skype onto one of the lab computers and brought my webcam from home. Skype is a software program that allows you to make video phone calls over the Internet. We arranged the time of the interview and the class waited excitedly for the big day. Two students were chosen to speak for our class and answer the questions. We projected the Webcam image of the interview onto a large screen so everyone could watch. Mr. Lehman and a fourth-grade boy interviewed our class. All of my students were 100 percent engaged in the interview. If our two representatives didn’t know the answer to a question, the other twenty-eight kids scrambled to see who could find the answer first on Google. The interview went off without a hitch, and my students begged to do it again. These relatively easy-to-implement technology projects made me realize that my students were eager to communicate with students outside our school. I decided to next try a longer, more in-depth project.

Blogging to Make the World a Better Place
Using the quote from Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” I challenged my middle and high school computer students to brainstorm how we could use the digital tools of today to “be the change.” Students used Inspiration (a dichangegital graphic organizer) to map out ideas of how they could accomplish this and went to work researching a topic of their choosing. I wanted to make sure the parents understood the project and sent home a letter detailing our proposal, including an explanation of how we were going to use a blog for our publishing platform. (A blog is like an online diary where the students could write posts about their topic and share resources.) I set up individual student blogs at This Web site allows each student to customize their own blog but still be connected to the larger class.

Students posted their first entry explaining their chosen topic and how they hoped to change the world. The topics ranged from encouraging people to give blood, protecting the environment, teenage depression, animal abuse, recycling, and more. They designed original Web banners for their site and research facts to give their blog credibility. To encourage students to read each other’s posting, I set up learning circles of four to five students who read and commented on one another’s blogs. We discussed appropriate commenting, how to encourage further discussion, writing in a manner that was professional, using accurate facts, and citing resources. This activity gave a real-world experience to everything I taught in my earlier digital citizenship unit. We used only first names, did not use identifying photos, and did not reveal our school name.

In addition to discussing their topic and writing personal reflections, students also embedded other forms of media such as digital comic strips and educational public service announcement videos. The students enjoyed receiving comments from their classmates but were eager for a larger audience. I located a group of teachers online who were also blogging with their students and invited them to read our blogs. My students participated in a “comment challenge” to read and post on other classroom blogs. Soon my students were discussing their topics with elementary and high school students from around the US and Canada and as far away as Australia. As a teacher I was able to review and approve all comments before they were posted. The overall reaction to the blogging activity was positive and encouraging. Many students worked on their blogs from home and were always excited to receive new comments.

Additional Ideas
Giving my students an authentic audience raised the level of student engagement and quality of work in my classroom. Other classes have also made videos for Peace Day, evaluated the nutritional content of school lunches by using Excel spreadsheets, mass produced letters to local representatives about legislation, interviewed locals for career VoiceThread projects, and more. Next year I plan on incorporating additional interaction with other schools by having the students create original digital postcards and embed them into a Google map. We will send the URL of the Google map to the other schools and encourage them to visit our map and add their images and research.

Our teens are social creatures as we know. Allowing them to communicate with other students around the country and the world can help them learn about important topics in a way that is real, immediate, and personal, enabling them to expand their worldviews and ask more critical questions about any topic under discussion.

View all the Connect articles at

New changes coming to VoiceThread

about_voicethreadBeginning January 1, 2009 VoiceThread will no longer allow multiple simultaneous logins to the same account.  The good folks at the VoiceThread blog explain the rationale and acknowledge simultaneous log ins are convenient but they also pose security risks and could be in violation of COPPA.

I’ve have used both class accounts and an individual VoiceThread account for various class projects.  Some issues about using identities with just one account are outlined on the VoiceThread blog:

  • Comment Moderation does not work because the Identities are simply a different ‘face’ for the educator account. VoiceThread will instantly show any and all new comments to any of your Identities.
  • Because the students are logged in as you, they must be directly supervised as they work and record their comments because they can delete any comment made by any other identity, including the educators, and they can even delete entire VoiceThreads with just two clicks (note:  this HAS happened to me!)
  • When you delete an identity you will delete all of the comments and content that the identity has made in the past, which means that next year you will either have to delete all of your prior years students identities and the work they made, or create a brand new account each year.

During my VoiceThread workshop presentations I have always shared the pros/cons of using one account and having multiple identities.  The new system will take some planning and getting used to but I don’t think it will limit my enthusiasm for VoiceThread and the value it adds to my curriculum.

A subscription to the secure K-12 ed.voicethread network gives every student their very own account (student email addresses not required) and students can then choose which classmates to collaborate with – but the projects are still viewable by the teacher.

Some other features of the student accounts on ed.voicethread are:

• Create a portfolio of up to 15 VoiceThreads
• Maintain a media library up to 250 MB
• Unlimited commentary – voice / text / webcam
• Upload archival mp3 files as commentary
• By default cannot add contacts or send invitations to users who are not members of Ed.VoiceThread
• By default cannot view content unless it’s created or vetted by an Ed.VoiceThread member

Update: There are still free educator accounts available but you don’t have access to the secure ed.voicethread network and you can’t have simultaneous logins.

Some NEW features to VoiceThread that were added this past month are:

  1. Copying/cloning your VoiceThreads – Now you can copy an existing VoiceThread so that it can be reused with a different group of people or to just create a backup copy.
  2. iPod/iPhone Exports
  3. And the one I am most excited about – Microsoft Office 2007 file compatibility.

One final note.  VoiceThread is creating a digital library of outstanding educational examples – not quite the same as the examples that are posted on the VoiceThread 4 Education wiki – but more detailed articles explaining the process of using VoiceThread and samples that can be replicated.  I’m thrilled that Steve Muth has asked me to be part of this project and am currently submitting some of my own examples.  Click HERE to submit your project and possible earn $20 worth of archival exports.

As a company, VoiceThread has been very responsive to teacher suggestions and input and it is the first tool I recommend to teachers who are looking for ways to have their students respond and collaborate on projects.  Wes Fryer says it best:

“…I’ve found VoiceThread to be the single most powerful and beneficial web 2.0 site and technology for students and teachers to use. It is not secret I am a BIG fan of VoiceThread. Any educator interested in differentiated instruction and safe digital collaboration should be as well.”

Updated:  Full Disclosure –  I am not a paid employee of VoiceThread.

Upcoming Tech Conference presentations

Just a heads up:  I will be presenting a 3 hour hands-on workshop and several one hour sessions at the NCCE conference in Portland on February 19th & 20th

Integrating Google Tools 4 Teachers ($85 extra)
Morning Workshop, Friday, February 20, 2009, from 8:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Come learn how you can use the FREE Google tools to encourage collaboration in your classroom. A Google Certified Teacher will share multiple examples of how MS/HS school teachers are integrating Google shared docs & spreadsheets, Google Maps and the new Google sites into their curriculum. Great for beginners! Windows Computer Lab.…

Other concurrent sessions:

Thursday, February 19th 1pm VoiceThread for sharing and collaboration

Friday February 20th 1:15pm Google Tools vs Google Apps for Education

Btw, I am also presenting a Google Tools for Catholic Schools at the NCEA conference in Anaheim in April.  Anyone else going?

Update:  I will also be at NECC in Washington DC in  June

Title: Using VoiceThread for Interactive Projects
Category/Subcategory*: Formal Session:BYOL (Bring your own laptop)
Theme/Strand*: 21st-Century Teaching & Learning:Web/Internet/Web 2.0
Day: Tuesday, 6/30/2009
Time: 3:30pm–4:30pm

Join me on the “Women of the Web” show on Ed Tech Talk

Hey VoiceThread lovers – I’ve been asked to be on the “Women of the Web” show at Ed Tech Talk on Tuesday, November 25th

When: Tue, Nov 25, 6p – 7pm Pacific (9pmEST/ 0200GMT)
Where: EdTechTalk A
Description: Join the Women of Web 2.0 for their weekly guests, conversations and chat room antics.

I would love it if some other VoiceThread lovers would be there and participate in the chat or Skype into the sessions.  I also plan on sharing how I use other tools (Google presentations, Audacity, flip camera, Gabcast) along with VoiceThread.

See you there.
Colette Cassinelli

More ILC Reflections

Now that I am home from the Innovative Learning Conference 2008 and have had some time to process all that happened, I can truly say that overall it was good experience for me.

On Wednesday morning I attended a session by Josh Burker (fellow Pepperdine Cadre member) who shared Scratch – the kids programming language from MIT.  The program comes with different “projects” organized by category:

  • Animations
  • Games
  • Greetings
  • Interactive art
  • Lists
  • Music and dance
  • Names
  • Simulations
  • Speak up
  • Stories

Younger students can just play with games on the galleries – they don’t need to understand how the games are made – but older elementary kids will want to design their own.  This program is a great way to introduce logical thinking and cause/effect.  Projects can then be save to the Scratch galleries or embedded in a website or blog.  You can also purchase a Picoboard to connect to your computer and then your programs can interact with real objects.

The next session was by Steven McGriff, a professor at San Jose State University titled:  Anyone Can Be Visually Literate:  Graphic Design Tips for Educators. He shared with us how 3 design principals form a framework for working with graphic design:
1.   Perceptions (figure/ground, hierarchy (organizing) , Gestalt- the whole is greater than the sum of its parts)
2.   Tools (type, shape, color, depth, space)
3.   Actions (proximity, alignment, repetition, contrast)

The best advice he gave was “know your audience and design your presentation to match the audience”.

I gave my VoiceThread presentation at 1pm.  Handouts are located at and the samples are at  During the presentation, Brian VanDyke moderated the chat at the online PowerPoint at Overall the presentation went well even though I couldn’t get some of the VoiceThreads to load (grrr – no dedicated Internet line for presenters!!!) and folks asked good questions.  Thanks all for coming!!!

Another excellent session I attended was on Google Earth by Joe Wood.  I’ve used Google Maps extensively but I learned some new tips from Joe that I hadn’t ever done before – like changing the view of how you “fly” into a location in Google Earth, using historical maps, overlays for earthquake and new stories, and more.  Check out his excellent wiki for all kinds of ideas.  Thanks Joe!

Favorite t-shirt of the day from Diane Main:

On Friday I went to a great session from Leslie Fisher on Taking Digital Pictures Effectively.  Leslie’s sessions are always packed with great advice – even though I got schooled for having a Dell in a sea of Macs.

Common mistakes and advice for taking better pictures
  • not close enough –> “move in, take it again”
  • look around the edges to see if you want the things that are around
  • not focused –> use green boxes (when you press shutter halfway) Every camera has focus point
  • camera shake (nothing in focus) –> “lighting is too low in the photo so the camera needs expose the picture longer to take the image”; the shaking of your hand results in a blurry picture –> Fix: use a tripod and set the timer, use artificial lighting or change camera setting
  • composition –> wander around to try to figure out what is the best angle, composition, shoot high and shoot low. What do you want your picture to show? to say? – use law of thirds (get the focus in one of the central intersections- use cropping (but be careful that you not lose resolution) look for lines, spaces makes you think, shoot high/shoot low
  • lighting and speed are equal out of the box –>use action mode for action shot to make speed faster than lighting
  • too much flash –> use natural light in the photo
  • too little flash –> camera shake so stabilize the camera or introduce light
  • digital zoom –> turn it off (it zooms up on the pic and crops it)
  • Photoshop Resolution:  72 for web or PPT and at least 180 for print – uncheck resample image
Another great session on Friday was Screencasting by Ray Barbur.  He uses screencasts in his Chemistry classes for a variety of reasons:
  • To show rather than to explain (training, setting up email, attendance reports)
  • Addresses different learning styles
  • Can review material
  • When you’re out of the classroom
  • Students who miss class
  • Student’s who don’t get it
  • Aid in completing homework assignments
  • Distribution options – check out flash drives, burn to DVD
Some screencasting software he recommends:
1.  SnapzPro – mac only – original industry-standard
2.  Camtasia Studio – windows $179 academic – simultaneous video camera capture
3.  iShow U – mac – presets – video rendered immediately
4.  ProfCast – mac  drag and drop PPT
5.  Jing – both mac/pc -video saved as Flash only, limited to 5 minutes, uploads to, Jing ad, 2G space
6.  ScreenFlow
7.  Snapkast
ILC 2008 was a great conference.  I met a lot of virtual friends and was inspired to try some new things in my classroom to better meet the learning needs of my students.  Check out the ILC Flickr photo group at:

VoiceThread at ILC 2008

In addition to presenting at our local Library Media Conference next Friday, I am sharing how I use Voicethread in my classroom at the upcoming Innovative Learning Conference in San Jose on Wednesday, October 15th at 1pm.  Come join the fun. 

I’ve also updated my VoiceThread workshop wiki at:

I’v been browsing through the published conference program and –WOW– there are a ton of excellent speakers I would love to see.  How can I choose???

I’m also excited to see several of the Google Certified Teachers that I met last June and attend my first EduBloggerCon on Wednesday evening. the 15th.  See you then.

Join me at Teachers Teaching Teachers – Wed 7/9/08

Please join Teachers Teaching Teachers on Wednesday evening at EdTechTalk to discuss using VoiceThread in our curriculum.

I will join Steve Muth, Susan Ettenheim and Paul Allison (and others) on Teachers Teaching Teachers on Wednesday – 9:00 PM Eastern / 6:00 PM Pacific. Perhaps you can join us?

If you haven’t seen the wiki I put together at I would love your input on the new page title “Best Practices”. I am looking for ideas of how your planned your lessons to incorporate VoiceThread – not just examples. How did you think through the pedagogy that encourages collaboration and makes VoiceThread the “right” tool for your project.

Please add your thoughts and join us on Wednesday evening as we discuss this important issue.

Voicethread & Google Maps Postcard Exchange

I love Classroom 2.0 and the excitement that the teachers there bring to my network. I always read the posts about VoiceThread since I will be presenting a workshop on VoiceThread at the Innovative Learning Conference this Fall. I came across this Postcard exchange idea from Jennifer Albers.

In the past I have been a part of several postcard exchanges and my students loved receiving the cards and information about each state. This year I wanted to try something new. I created a type of state information exchange using VoiceThread. VoiceThread is a free program at It is a way to have conversations around media…the link is: am sending this email out during summer in hopes that you will get familiar with VoiceThread and want to use it during the school year… If you have any questions or comments my email is Enjoy!

I think this is great way to introduce your class to VoiceThread. I am planning on having my students look up some facts about Oregon and comment on the VoiceThread.

Here is another extension that I am thinking of incorporating:

Great a customized Google Map and have classes create postcards about their states and embed the images and additional text into the Map and then share that map with other classrooms for them to do the same.

I made a sample … want to give it a try? Got to this map and add a landmark. Let’s use this map as a sandbox to practice adding locations, images and text:

View Larger Map

Last year I participated in Postcard Geography ( but either one of these ideas could work along with that program.

Focus on learning & use tools effectively

Jen at @injenuity shared her concerns in a post entitled, “Web 2.0 is Not the Future of Education”. She states that early tech adopters are focusing on integrating new tools in their teaching instead of focusing on LEARNING. She writes:

“Learning is the future of education. Students need to develop an awareness of how they learn. By student, I mean every human being with whom we come in contact… All people deserve the right to understand how learning happens and the power they have to control their own lifelong learning journey.

Why are we hording these technology tools like some kind of magic trick that can only be performed for those worthy enough to earn our approval? We must embrace a more holistic approach to teaching and learning…

I really just want people to start to build their foundational values as educators, without ‘Web 2.0? as part of those values. The tools can enable engagement, transfer of learning and collaboration and can open the world to the student. Please see the student before the tools and give them the power they need in order to be successful with them.”

As a technology teacher who has transformed her computer classes from skill-based to LEARNING based – I whole heartedly agree with Jen. Its easy to get caught up in the lastest gadget or software tool. I feel my goal is to teach students how to learn.

I think part of this excitement depends on your basic personality. I am a learner. I love learning new things. It excites me and motivates me.

Other people are more cautious. They question the need for change. Change makes them uncomfortable and are slow to adopt.

Is there anything wrong with either one of these approaches? No. They each have their advantages and disadvantages.

But in the classroom our focus MUST be on engaging students as learners. Technology does provide opportunities for students to connect and be creative in ways that are unique and tranformative. But it takes a passionate and educated teacher to know the best way to do that.

I admit that I am guilty of rushing to incorporate a new tool into my classroom and found the experience to be lackluster. Usually it is because I haven’t taken the time to determine how using this piece of software will best meet my instructional goals and demonstrate student understanding.

When I first heard about VoiceThread I immediately saw it’s potential to engage students and give them a voice. But without careful planning, my student’s first attempts were more like narrated powerpoints with a few audio comments that said “Good Job”.

I didn’t give up, though. My frustration with the results made me dig deeper and ask myself what is the unique power of this tool that I can’t recreate in person.

My students love to discuss and debate – but it seems that the only ones who speak up are those with outgoing personalities.

VoiceThread gives each student an opportunity to plan and share their idea or point of view in the medium they are most comfortable in – text, audio or video. The collaborative nature of VoiceThread also allows students to respond back in a way that is appropriate and safe. Eric Brunsell commented, “VoiceThread, just like PowerPoint, is pointless if students are not crafting an argument, creating art (visual, aural or written), somehow communicating authentic thinking.”

Whenever I assign a project, I like to give my students a choice on how they will present the information (video, blog, PowerPoint, VoiceThread, etc..). Students can now choose a tool that fits their personality and learning style and the focus is on the message and not the tool.

Last year I blogged about this concept of focusing on student learning:

Student-centered learning means that the focus is on the learner – not the teacher and how the material is presented. The emphasis is on how the student is learning, the choices they have for expressing their learning, and how the teacher comes to understand that the student is learning.

But at the same time, I also teach these students HOW to use the tools effectively so the project doesn’t become about the flashiness of PowerPoint or the coolness of video.

We need to do both.

Michele Martin’s comment on Jen’s entry summed it up, “It’s about using technology along with the right thinking and collaborative processes.”