Voicethread Tips for Upcoming DuFour Conversation

As regular Radical readers know, we're in the middle of planning
for an asynchronous Voicethread conversation with school
change experts Rick and Becky DuFour (see here and here) who will be helping us to think through the
nuts and bolts of creating school-wide systems of intervention. 

For those new to Voicethread, here are a few tips:

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 the DuFours will start on May 19th and run until May 21st. 

During that time, Rick and Becky will be stopping by our Voicethread a
few times a day to lend their advice and to answer your questions about
the challenges of effective intervention in the public schoolhouse—-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. 

The cool part about Voicethread is that there are no set times for
participating in our conversation.  Far from a full four days of
constant interaction, Voicethread conversations allow users to choose
when they'd like to stop by and learn.  

That means you can stop by as your schedule allows—before school,
after feeding the dogs, just before bed—-to read comments from other
participants and to share your wisdom with the digital peers that join
together to reflect on professional learning communities.  

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 Rick and Becky, 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 your 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.

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