Posted by: Navy Teacher | April 6, 2012

Voicethread in the Social Studies classroom

Voicethread is an amazing tool that can be utilized in any classroom.  It allows students to interact by providing their input on a historical photograph or painting.  A teacher can download a video clip and have his/her students comment on the video clip.  Another consideration – voicethread can be used at school or it can be utilized as a homework assignment.

As an aspiring Social Studies teacher I want to provide three examples on how voicethread can be used in a middle or high school social studies classroom.  As part of a visual discovery lesson, a teacher could place John Trumbull’s painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and have the students comment on what or who they see in the painting and the significance of the painting.  Another great idea for a teacher is to embed Adlai Stevenson’s powerful Cuban Missile Crisis speech in front of the United Nations Security Council.  The students could comment on how that speech might have impacted the  Khrushchev’s response to President Kennedy’s demand to remove nuclear weapons from Cuba.  Finally, a teacher could present a stock market graph from The Great Depression in voicethread and have the students comment on what the graph represents.

Voicethread represents yet another great tool that will help engage students’ interest.  Of course the context of the lesson is the key to successfully implementing a tool like voicethread.  Voicethread is one toll I really look forward to using in my future classroom.  Please provide some examples of how you have or will use voicethread in your classroom.



  1. I have never used voicethread in the classroom, as this was the first time I was introduced to it. However, I can see an excellent, meaningful way to use it for social studies classes as part of helping students with their DBQ essays and answering constructed response questions based on a document. Often students struggle with interpreting a document and answering questions pertaining to that document. As part of standardized tests, students have to answer CRQ’s and do a DBQ essay. Each of these requires students to analyze a document and synthesize information from that document. Furthermore, students also have to provide “outside” or additional information in their essay pertaining the the subject matter of the documents.

    Voicethread would be great in these instances, as the teacher could post a document, such as a political cartoon, graph, illustration or chart. From which the teacher could lead/begin the voicethread by introducing the document and asking question/thoughts for students to answer, and asking students to expand on what they know about the document. Students would then be able to piggy-back off of each others comments/answers and at the same time gain further information or outside information about that document/topic by listening to others. It also would help those who struggle to interpret documents and have trouble producing outside information, as they could hear other students thoughts and how they came about interpreting and thinking about the document and its connections.

  2. Great ideas here! @Ryan, you are exactly right that one of the benefits from multiple viewpoints and ideas that Voicethread can capture is that students can benefit from multiple ideas and perspectives within this media-rich discussion space… as, that’s really what this is at its best… and place to share ideas. Communication.

    It’s yet one more tool in a teacher’s tool belt that he/she can leverage to make learning meaningful, active, rich, social,… and, as you right state, Barry, requires a purposeful and meaningful context to begin with – and that comes from the teacher.

    • Thanks for sharing and soliciting input from others Dr. Ransom. Voicethread is definitely a tool that I want to have in my backpocket as a teacher.

  3. I’ve also used VoiceThread as more of a storytelling tool than a group analysis tool. Here’s a project that I created, along with Language Arts teacher, for a 6th grade World Cultures class

    • Wow, you provide two vastly different yet very interesting and engaging uses for voicethread. I really like the idea of using a Kamishibai in Global History. Thank you very much for sharing!

  4. Oh, one more example, I remembered Students created campaign ads in VT. I did this when I was teaching LA, but could easily have been a history project.

  5. There are some very good examples of using VoiceThread in a student project on this site:

  6. That is a very interesting use of voicethread in the U.S. History class. I can see how it might help students understand how to interpret primary sources through an interactive voicethread. Thanks for sharing!

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