Photo of 6th Grade - Connotations from Julie Combs

6th Grade - Connotations from Julie Combs

By Julie Combs


This VT demonstrates how to power pack 15 minutes of class time. It is a simple idea, easy to do quickly, can be used with just about any grade level and promotes higher level thinking. It fits into the 6-trait writing model for word choice and can be modified to be used any time of year.


This was the first time my students commented on VoiceThread this year. We visited the site the day before to familiarize ourselves with the many types of threads. We also discussed the do’s and don’ts as we looked at threads together. I found several pictures that I thought would evoke an emotional response and uploaded them to VT. Then I gave the directions for the students to add only one word or phrase describing their favorite picture. I also planned ahead of time how I would distribute the mics as students needed them.


I wanted my students to create an account at VT, learn to use the mic, and successfully add a comment to a VT in about 15 minutes of class time. Additionally, I wanted the students to have a clear understanding of connotation and denotation as well as be able to use the Visual Thesaurus to find alternative words if their first choice was already taken.

Easy Parts

The entire lesson went like a dream. The students were very motivated, they were excited and not intimidated because they only had to add one word. They learned to use the tool with no difficulty at all.


The hardest part for me was providing my students with uniform registration information ahead of time so they wouldn’t struggle with this step.


I used Excel to manage their usernames and passwords ahead of time so they would know what to enter when we got started. I printed the information and gave it to the students before they registered. I ! also created a page on my wiki to introduce the lesson and keep track of the VT.


This is my third year using VoiceThread with my students. The first two years I struggled finding ways to use VT in my class. My mistake! I was trying to incorporate VT into my curriculum as a subject instead of using it as a tool to enhance my curriculum.

My advice, take baby steps. There is always time to get bigger and better. Start small, spend time evaluating what others have already done, use it as a resource before you add your own content.


This particular VoiceThread is so simple, and holiday based (I used it right before Halloween) the same concept could be done for any Holiday, or to teach vocabulary, or as a word choice lesson.