I wanted students to go from images to meaning, using a real live context. I had already thrown some clipart of various weather conditions on a powerpoint for them to play meteorologist one by one, plus a journal of the week's forecast and a cloze listening practice (as recommended by SECottrell). Next I wanted something more...more simultaneous, where they could all contribute at the same time, but still have an audience and a chance for response and reflection.
So I snagged the 5 laptops from the mobile lab and booted up the classroom computer I finally got my paws on (plus a microphone from the stash in the office supply closet). I set up the week's forecast journal assignment to be going on simultaneously, so some could be writing in notebooks, and some recording directly to the voicethread.
I'm pretty pleased with the results, though it is still in experimental phase ("Gabriela's" response on the map of Mexico when she can't figure out how to shut off the recording is pretty priceless!)
Here are some steps I recommend for using voicethread, especially for Spanish 1 weather:
- Make sure students know they only have to click "comment" then "record" to capture their comments for free (as long as they have microphones built in or hooked up): using your phone is fun, but you only get a little time free.
- For a busy classroom, it might be worth hooking up microphones instead of relying on built-in ones for the sake of clarity.
- Have THREE activities available, especially if you have a 1:3 student/computer ratio. Two activities worked ok in the class it was more like 1:2.
- Do register for accounts as soon as possible, so your comments can be labeled appropriately for credit purposes.
- These are some good sites for getting "authentic" weather maps: lanacion.com.ar, senamhi.gob.pe, conagua, tu tiempo, INAMEH.
- One weather comment per map was the right amount for 5 maps--especially since I wouldn't let them repeat each other, and they had to listen to previous comments.
- Having students include the place they're describing helps me check for accuracy, but it also helps them get exposed to real city names and try getting their brains around the pronunciations. In the future, I'll have to add city names instead of just directions to the maps that don't include them already.