Voicethread, Muhammad and Staff Division

As regular Radical readers know, we’re currently preparing to hold a conversation with author Anthony Muhammad (see here and here) about his new book Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division, which provides readers with an approachable framework for understanding the personal and professional needs of the four main types of faculty members found in every school building.

I’m excited to announce that Anthony has agreed to join us for a four-day focused discussion using Voicethread—one of my favorite digital tools
that allows participants to hold asynchronous conversations with one
another.  What that means is that you’ll have a window of time to jump
into this important conversation—instead of being limited to just one
day which may or may not fit into your personal schedules!

If you’ve never joined in a Voicethread conversation before, you’re
in for a special treat

Voicethread is one of the easiest—and most
engaging—digital forums for discussions available to educators
today.  It’s a tool that my students have embraced completely (check out this conversation that they had about Darfur) and that I’ve used with teachers for conversations on Web 2.0, Grading, Reading Instruction and Professional Learning Communities.

Our conversation with Anthony will start on May 13th and run until May 16th.
During that time, Anthony will be stopping by our Voicethread a few times
a day to lend his advice and to answer your questions about the challenges of transforming schools—-but the real value in our conversation comes from the
collective wisdom of all of our participants!  My hope is that we’ll wrestle with challenging topics together for four days—-answering and asking questions, pushing back against controversial ideas, letting our own preconceived notions be challenged.

It should be a great example of what collaborative dialogue between accomplished teachers can look like—and it should elicit ideas that we can all use to drive change in our own schools and communities.

To be best prepared to use Voicethread during our conversation with Anthony, consider:

  1. Creating a free educator account by visiting http://voicethread.com
  2. Viewing this Voicethread tutorial, which will show you how to add comments to a conversation.
  3. Viewing this Voicethread tutorial, which will introduce you to the idea of Voicethread identities.

You can also practice by adding a comment to one of the following professional development Voicethreads that I’ve created for my teachers:

You might also be interested in these “digital conversation suggestions” that I introduce to teachers and students whenever we tackle new tools:

While commenting, try to respond directly to other readers. Begin by quoting some part of the comment that you are responding to help other listeners know what it is that has caught your attention. Then, explain your own thinking in a few short sentences. Elaboration is important when you’re trying to make a point. Finally, finish your comment with a question that other listeners can reply to.

Questions help to keep digital conversations going!

When responding to another participant, don’t be afraid to disagree with something that they have said. Challenging the thinking of someone else will help them to reconsider their own thinking—and will force you to explain yours! Just be sure to disagree agreeably—impolite people are rarely influential.

If your thinking gets challenged by another participant in a conversation, don’t be offended. Listen to your peers, consider their positions and decide whether or not you agree with them. You might discover that they’ve got good ideas you hadn’t thought about. Either way, be sure to respond—let you challengers know how their ideas have influenced you.

Finally, know that you can always leave questions for me in the comment section of this entry.  I’m really excited about our upcoming conversation and want to make sure that everyone feels comfortable with the tool that we’ll be using to interact with one another.

5 thoughts on “Voicethread, Muhammad and Staff Division

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  3. tbowes

    Okay, Bill- you’ve got me hooked on Voicethread!
    My friend recently got an interview for the assistant principal job at our school. She is was the acting AP this year while the other AP was on leave and did a fantastic job. The staff really wanted to support her, so we collected examples of how she was a good leader and I put it into a voicethread for her to play at her interview!
    We didn’t have time to record all of the voices, so I just divided the comments into “newer educator” and “experienced educator” and disguised my voice for each.
    Just wanted to pass on another application of this fantastic digital tool!
    ps I enjoyed the voicethread on grading. I have forwarded it to some colleagues and parents who are skeptics of our standards based grading system. Looking forward to the discussions with Muhammad.

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