Using VoiceThread for Special Education Classes

This is a guest post by Special Education teacher and VoiceThreader, Lauren Andersen.

As a special education teacher of students with severe and multiple disabilities, it has been a challenge to find appropriate technological resources that meet my each and every one of students where they are at and help take them to the next level.

Since learning about VoiceThread in a technology course at Columbia University many years ago, VoiceThread has become my top resource when creating lessons for my students, developing training modules for my teacher assistants, teaching online graduate courses, and encouraging collaboration among a group of individuals.

When thrust into the previously uncharted “online learning” mandate that our country has come to know, VoiceThread has enabled me to become even more versatile and reach ALL of my learners—wherever they are. My students can see me and hear me. At the same time, they can also see visuals that I embedded and the presentation that I have created. In turn, they have the ability to respond by recording videos, recording a voice message, or even typing out words and/or adding links—whatever works best for them, individually.

Using VoiceThread, I have been able to record read alouds by showing pages of books and recording me reading them. I have been able to make stories, too. Over the weekend, I made pizza for dinner and I documented every step of the process by taking pictures. I made a simple Google Slides presentation, downloaded it as a PDF, and uploaded it to VoiceThread. From there, I was able to record myself, pose questions on each slide, and write text comments including to links to their favorite pizza making game on ABCya. This trifecta multi-sensory experience is simply not an option on most technology resources today. Though it is something that is essential to the learning process for my special learners. You can check out my pizza-making lesson here:

When I’m not working with students with severe disabilities, I’m thinking of ways to train and teach the people with whom I have the great pleasure of working with: paraprofessionals and preservice teachers.

In New York State, paraprofessionals are required to engage in professional development for a certain amount of hours. Using VoiceThread, I have created many training modules that can be used to train teacher assistants and also may serve as an integral professional development tool.

Though I am just a teacher, I have often thought about how VoiceThread can streamline the process of a new hire—particularly if that new-hire starts in my classroom as a teacher aide or assistant. Using VoiceThread, essential documents can be uploaded, discussed, and questions can be posed—entirely remotely and before they even set foot in my room. After all, my students need consistency and predictability, so providing this type of information to paraprofessionals in my classroom is critical. In regard to new hires, basic workplace training certainly seems easy if all you have to do is share a link. That’s VoiceThread!

Finally, the most incredible part of VoiceThread is its ease of use. Time is precious and valuable. So is our students’ learning. Use VoiceThread to create multi-sensory material that will be yours—forever.

**_About the Author:**
Lauren Andersen is a certified doctoral candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a full time elementary special education teacher on Long Island and teaches classes as an adjunct instructor at Columbia University and Hunter College in the department of special education. Follow Lauren on Twitter at_ @AndersenLauren1