Colette Cassinelli's visionary use of information literacy and educational technology

Tag: voicethread

Presenting & Archiving

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 […]

Co-Creation & Ideation Tools

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 […]

Library of Congress lesson plan:  Childhood Poverty

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!

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. […]

Directory of Classroom partners for VoiceThread projects

Directory of Classroom partners for VoiceThread projects

A 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 […]

Join the conversation

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

Connect Article published

I’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 […]

New changes coming to VoiceThread

New changes coming to VoiceThread

Beginning 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 […]

Upcoming Tech Conference presentations

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

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 […]

More ILC Reflections

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 […]

VoiceThread at ILC 2008

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

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 […]

Voicethread & Google Maps Postcard Exchange

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 […]

Focus on learning & use tools effectively

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.”