Parent Technology & Literacy Coffee Morning: Summer Technology Fun

Today was our final Parent Technology & Literacy Coffee Morning of this school year so we focused on ways that families can use technology tools to share their summer holiday experiences. There are lots of opportunities for families to spend time together, creating and sharing media to show other family members about their travels in Japan and around Asia. One of our favorite tools is VoiceThread.

VoiceThread is wonderful because:

  • it’s amazingly easy to use.
  • it’s web-based, so anyone can create and view a VoiceThread.
  • it’s collaborative, so more than one person can edit and comment on a VoiceThread.
  • it’s easy to share with friends, family and anyone else via the Internet.
  • it combines visual media with audio – creating simple and effective multimedia projects.
  • it allows the creator to upload almost any kind of file (including images, movies, presentations, documents and .pdfs).
  • we have a special Education account with VoiceThread so every child at YIS (who has used VT for class) has a premier account which allows unlimited uploads.
  • it’s free!

Here is a sample VoiceThread created by students in Ms. Bloom’s grade 5 class earlier this year:

It’s easy to see how powerful it is to have images and voice combined into one simple presentation. You can even draw on the images as you record to highlight certain parts. Recently VoiceThread improved their services to make finished VoiceThreads look even more seamless, take a look here.

Students at YIS have used VoiceThread for a number of projects, for example:

  • each grade 5 student created a VoiceThread as a reflection tool for their PYP Exhibition (see them here: 5B, 5G, 5L).
  • grade 12 used VoiceThread as a presentation tool to collaborate on a research and presentation project about the effects of industry on the environment.
  • grade 6 students collaborated on VoiceThread presentations when they were researching different cultures in Humanities.

In fact, VoiceThread is so easy to use that once Kindergarten students have been shown how the commenting process works one time, they can do it on their own!

If you’re interested in using VoiceThread to share some of your summer holiday experiences with friends and family around the world, you can easily create a free account on the VoiceThread website and/or ask your child if they already have an account.

We discussed ways that we can use VoiceThread, here are a few ideas that were shared:

  • Create a VoiceThread about summer travels and share via Facebook or on a family blog.
  • Using VoiceThread as a presentation tool for student-produced projects at school.
  • Bringing VoiceThread into the professional realm to use it for presentations that need to be viewed multiple times or in multiple locations.

If you’re interested in using VoiceThread with your children and weren’t able to attend the session, there are tons of great tutorials available on the VoiceThread website. Here’s one that covers the basics:

Try it out and let us know how it goes!

Very briefly we also talked about Twitter as a communication tool and reviewed some of the highlights from last month’s session. One of the highlights was the power of Twitter as a collaboration and connection tool, exemplified by the story of a project we’re working on here at YIS and in other Tokyo schools called Quakestories. Please take a look at the website and share with your children – they may be interested in participating too!

Our Parent Technology and Literacy Coffee Mornings will return next school year, starting in September, and meet regularly on the first Wednesday of the month at 9:15. Hopefully we’ll be in the same location for every session next year.

A huge thank you to our dedicated group of parents that attends almost every session! Looking forward to seeing you all again next year!