Af12 Week 5 Class Voice Assignments

This is a guest post by educator and VoiceThreader Dr. Daisy Sam.


I have been a classroom teacher since 2005. My only break from the classroom was in 2011 when my family moved from RI to NJ and this year school year as we made another transition from NJ to FL. Sometimes the teaching life is so involved you seldom have time to sit and reflect on the lessons you have created. You just keep doing what works and adapt to new approaches as they come. I truly believe that Teaching is an Art and my tools are a variety of web tools that enhance my lessons. One tool in particular that has been instrumental in my life as a language teacher is VoiceThread.

In the process of writing this blog I went through the many VoiceThreads I have created through the years. I realized that March 2009 was my very first one! Initially, I bought in because of the recording, annotating, and sharing features. Moreover, I was excited about the direct implications this tool had for my Foreign Language classroom of sixth, seventh and eighth graders. At first, I created groups for my classes and loaded VoiceThreads where I would record myself explaining a concept taught in class or pronouncing words. In a way, this was my version of a flipped classroom in 2009. As I developed more experience, I started using VoiceThread to enhance projects by showcasing them to parents on my Google Website. One project in particular was a fashion show. My eager seventh graders used a row of tables as their runway and recorded aspects of their show on VoiceThread. We shared it by embedding the thread in our class website. I then put VoiceThread in the hands of my middle schoolers and had them produce the extra lesson and explanations to share with the class. Additionally, I flipped my classroom readings during this time. Students would read in class and then for homework listen to me read a chapter. This process allowed them to continue to develop an ear for the language.

When I left RI for NJ, I also left behind my sweet middle schoolers. In Ridgewood, NJ I had the opportunity to teach high School. Not knowing how my “big kids” would react to VoiceThread I implemented it slowly. I quickly learned that high schoolers hate listening to themselves speak in Spanish! One of my first VoiceThread applications was having students recreate a scene from a story in our literature book. At this point, they were able to have their own VoiceThread account and join my class group. They recorded and shared their stories with our class group. As a classroom technique to get them out of their seats (World Cafe or Gallery Walk), we placed 1 computer at 4 tables. Each computer had a story from each group. I then asked students to rotate in groups and engage in discussion while providing feedback to the 4 stories. This was an “ Aha moment” when I realized that VoiceThread was a great source to provide verbal feedback. It was during this “Aha moment” that I really started experimenting and using VoiceThread for formal assessments. I wanted to give my students the opportunity to move past the grammar and speak the language in one place where I could also provide feedback. I needed a fast and convenient platform to do this and VoiceThread was that platform.

As I started teaching AP, it was clear I needed VoiceThread to help me not only create authentic forms of assessment, but also aid in the interpersonal skills needed for students to exit successfully from our Spanish curriculum. Part of the AP exam requires students to record a 2 minute presentation where they have to compare and contrast world issues of a spanish speaking culture and their own community. Needless to say, this was a challenge for many of them. We met this challenge head-on with VoiceThread. First, I posted a picture and the topic and everyone recorded their responses on the same thread. As a teacher this made it easier to grade. I knew I had to allocate a certain amount of time to listen to all of them. It showed me how long each recording lasted and with the VoiceThread App, I was able to listen to my students in my car, at the gym, at my kids practices, anywhere. This was beneficial for the students because it gave them an authentic opportunity for practice. The timing format allowed them to become vigilant of time constraints for the exam. When the assessment was over, I opened them so they could all listen to each other. The true strength of this application was the bi-directional learning that happened from student to student. Another aspect that is always a challenge of the AP exam is the simulated conversation and VoiceThread was a great resource for this. As a project they created their own simulated conversations which we embedded on a Google Site for incoming freshman. They had a good time coming up with discussion topics and it was a great way to share the expectations of the AP exam with teachers and students of the lower levels. In this website via VoiceThread, they also created listening practices, which also gave incoming students a perspective of what can be achieved at the higher levels

The use of VoiceThread not only assisted in enhancing assessments and practice skills for the AP exam, but its practical use found its was to my other lower level classes as well. In these classes, I often used VoiceThread to record Group conversations. This particular technique allowed me to float around the classroom and engage in conversation with students and grade these conversations at a later time. At times I took it a step further and used these same conversations as a homework assignment where students had to pick a group to listen to on the VoiceThread discussion of the day and then produce a written reflection of agreement or disagreement. VoiceThread allowed me to design much more meaningful and rigorous assessments. We moved from lower levels of depth of knowledge (DOK) of conjugating verbs to higher levels of depth of knowledge real, authentic conversations in Spanish. For instance, in my 5-Honors class, the exam went from a traditional final with multiple choice questions and grammar to a 25 minute group final with a Spider Conversational Expectation, which involved a conversation reflecting on everything including HS and their Spanish career.

In all, it is my belief that language acquisition is one of the hardest skills to develop. It demands a strong command of vocabulary, grammar, context and confidence. Most teachers, including myself at one point, spend time drilling student skills in vocabulary and grammar. With a “drill and kill” process, most students disengage and develop minimal skills. However, VoiceThread showed me and my students that there was another way to learn a language that was much more meaningful and rigorous. Through its simplicity and practicality, my students and I were able to engage in higher level DOK conversations, which maximize engagement and language acquisition. I cannot imagine any of my classes without VoiceThread and you shouldn’t either. Don’t just take my word for it, check out what my two former students had to say about VoiceThread.

About the author:

Dr. Sam, most recently was a Spanish Teacher and Technology Coach at Ridgewood High School, NJ. Although she is taking a year of from the classroom as she transitions her three children into a her new home state of Florida, she an active Google Education Trainer and Consultant for Eduscape Learning and New Wave Consultants. She has been in the field of education for over ten years. Dr. Sam has been using web tools in the classroom since 2008. In 2013 she became a Google Certified Individual and a Google Education Trainer in June 2014. She holds a Masters degree in Teaching and Student Learning and a Doctoral Degree in Education Leadership. Her 2011 Dissertation focused on how middle school teachers in the different areas of education, described their level of competency using technology and implementing the national education technology standards. In addition Dr. Sam has presented her session Using Google Apps and Web 2.0 tools for AP Success at the 2016 AP Annual Conference, NJ World Language Institute and has been a guest presenter at various World Language Departments in NJ. You can connect with Dr. Sam on twitter at@daisysam1.

Course Description
An intermediate level media studies course exploring how sound functions in cinema. This course focuses on sound as media and the relationship between sound and image through topics including the history of sound technologies and the so-called 'coming of sound;' film sound theories, such as French composer Michel Chion's influential work on audio-visual relationships and the human voice in cinema, as well as feminist film theories on the female body and voice; film music and audience reception; sound space, and the evolving practice of sound recording and reproduction in film. These topics are examined through reading assignments, screenings and listening sessions, in-class presentations, writing and sound recording assignments. This class encourages a critical, creative approach, non-traditional solutions, and awareness of both historical contexts and theoretical frameworks. The course fulfills the media theory and media history requirements for the Intercollegiate Media Studies (IMS) major and minor. Prerequisite:  MS49, 50, or 51; or some introductory level music theory courses.

Statement of Student Learning Outcome
By the end of this course, students ideally are expected:

  • To develop a historicized understanding of how sound was incorporated into film production, exhibition, and criticism;
  • To develop a working knowledge of major film sound theories;
  • To acquire skills in analyzing the audio elements in a wide variety of films, including narrative, experimental/avant-garde, documentary, and other genres;
  • To be able to discuss and convey the above-mentioned knowledge and skills in both critical written arguments and in oral presentations/discussion;
  • To be able to work and learn in both individual and group contexts.



Course Organization
Class activities include discussion of reading assignments, screenings, presentations, critiques, as well as individual and group assignments. Both works by students and examples from Hollywood as well as other industrial and experimental films and media will be presented in class. Depending on funding and availability, guest speakers (sound artists, film and videomakers, media artists, programmers, scholars, etc.) will be invited to class, or to the Media Studies cinematheque series - be prepared to attend out-of-class screenings and lectures.

Please turn off all phones and mobile digital devices during class. Laptops can only be used for taking notes and for relevant web searches; no emailing, texting, and other activities unrelated to this class. These and other diversions are not acceptable during class time, and will lower your grade. 

Course Requirements
1.Attend all classes
2. Participation in class discussions and group critiques
3. Completion of writing and recording assignments as well as a final project or research paper


Attendance and participation of all classes is required. Do not miss class or arrive late! If you miss class 3 times without a proper excuse, (e.g. a doctor's note if you are sick) you fail the class. Absences must be cleared by me before or after (in case of emergencies only) the class you missed in order for it to not affect your final grade. Attendance is determined by when I take roll.


Class Participation
Your active, well-prepared participation in class discussions is essential to creating a dynamic (i.e. not boring!) learning environment. Although you will not receive a letter grade for class participation, it will figure into your final grade based on my observations.

We may study sexually explicit, political, and otherwise challenging material in this course. These are not included for shock value, but are legitimate investigations of controversial subject matters in media. You are certainly encouraged to explore difficult and complex subject matters in your work, and you should be prepared to consider these issues intellectually and emotionally. Our class is a safe space in which students can express their beliefs and opinions. You always have a voice, but please be respectful of others as well. Abusive language and behavior are not be tolerated. Open-mindedness is encouraged!


Class Assignments and Projects
Students will complete the following assignments for this course:

1. In-class writing assignment: Identify. compare, and discuss the sound technologies used in 2-3 film excerpts (10% of class grade)
2+3. Choose TWO of the following assignments: a) take-home audio visual analysis assignment; b) take-home psychoanalysis assignment; c) take-home film music assignment; d) recording assignment (20% each, 40% total of class grade)
4. Working with a partner or small group (2-3 students), prepare a 5 minute excerpt from a film or video to present in class, accompanied by a 8-10 page paper. (30% of class grade)

Unless an extension is approved by myself in advance of the due date, your grade are reduced by one letter grade (i.e. B to C) per class day your project is late. You are encouraged to meet with me individually during my office hours to discuss your assignments, your grades, and your overall performance in class. I am always open to suggestions and feedback!

Reading Assignments
Required readings are drawn from the textbooks below. You can purchase copies of the required textbooks, as well as the optional ones (in limited numbers) at the Huntley Bookstore, or go to web sites such as Amazon.

(Required - buy these)
Michel Chion, Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen, trans. Claudia Gorbman, Columbia University Press, New York, 1994.
Michel Chion, The Voice in Cinema, trans. Claudia Gorbman, Columbia University Press, New York, 1999.
Claudia Gorbman, Unheard Melodies: Narrative Film Music, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987. This title maybe out of print.
Anahid Kassabian, Hearing Film: Tracking Identifications in Contemporary Hollywood Film Music, Routledge, 2000.
Kaja Silverman, The Acoustic Mirror; The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema, Indiana University Press, Indianapolis, 1988.

(Optional - readings from these books will be posted on Sakai, you may buy them if you wish)
Rick Altman, editor, Sound Theory Sound Practice, Routledge, New York, 1992.
Rick Altman, Silent Film Sound (Film and Culture Series), Columbia University Press, 2007.
Christoph Cox & Daniel Warren, eds., Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, Continuum, 2004.
James Lastra, Sound Technology and the American Cinema: Perception, Representation, Modernity, New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.
Jonathan Sterne, ed., The Sound Studies Reader, New York: Routledge, 2012.
Emily Thompson, The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America (1900-1933), MIT Press, 2004.
Elisabeth Weis and John Belton, eds., Film Sound: Theory and Practice, New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.

Additional References
Jacques Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music, Univ. of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2002.
Jean-Francois Augoyard & Henry Torgue, eds., Sonic Experience: A Guide To Everyday Sounds, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006.
Jay Beck & Tony Grajeda, eds. Lowering The Boom: Critical Studies in FIlm Sound. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2008.
Karin Bijsterveld, Mechanical Sound: Technology, Culture, and Public Problems of Noise in the Twentieth Century (Inside Technology), MIT Press, 2008.
Barry Blesser & Linda-Ruth Salter, Spaces Speak, Are You Listening? Experiencing Aural Architecture, MIT Press, 2006.
Michael Bull. Sound Moves: iPod Culture and Urban Experience. New York: Routledge, 2007.
Michael Bull & Les Back, eds., The Auditory Culture Reader (Sensory Formations), London: Berg Publishers, 2004.
John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings, Wesleyan University Press, 1961.
Michel Chion, Sound: An Acoulogical Treatise. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.
---, Film, A Sound Art (Film and Culture Series), New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.
Donald Crafton, The Talkies: American Cinema's Transition to Sound, 1926-1931, History of The American Cinema, Vol. 4, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1997.
Leslie C. Dunn, and Nancy C. Jones, eds., Embodied Voices: Representing Female Vocality in Western Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Veit Erlmann. Reason and Resonance: A History of Modern Aurality. New York: Zone Books, 2010.
--- ed., Hearing Cultures: Essays on Sound, Listening and Modernity, Berg Publishers, 2004.
Scott Eyman, The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution 1926-1930, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997.
Ana Maria Ochoa Gautier. Aurality: Listening and Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century Colombia. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014.
Simon Frith & Andrew Goodwin, eds. On Record: Rock, Pop, and the Written Word, Pantheon Books, New York, 1990.
Paul Hegarty, Rumour and Radiation: Sound in Video Art, London: Bloomsbury Academi, 2014.
---, Noise Music: A History, London: Continuum, 2007.
Stefan Helmreich. Sounding The Limits of Life: Essays in the Anthropology of Biology and Beyond. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016.
---. Alien Ocean: Athropological Voyages in Microbial Seas. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2009.
Charles Hirschkind, The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics, Columbia Univ. Press, 2006.
Don Ihde, Listening and Voice: Phenomenologies of Sound, State University of New York Press; 1976.
Lilya Kaganovsky & Masha Salazkina, eds. Sound, Speech, Music in Soviet and Post-Soviet Cinema. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2014
Douglas Kahn. Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in The Arts. Berkeley, CA: University of Calufornia Press, 2013.
---, Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts, MIT Press, 2001.
Kathryn Kalinak. Settling The Score: Music and The Classical Hollywood Film. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992.
Brian Kane, Sound Unseen: Acousmatic Sound in Theory and Practice, New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Anahid Kassabian, Hearing Film: Tracking Identifications in Contemporary Hollywood Film Music, Routledge, 2000.
Michael C. Keith, Radio Cultures: The Sound Medium in American Life, Peter Lang Publishing, 2008.
Caleb Kelly, ed., Sound, Documents of Contemporary Art Series, London/Cambridge, MA: Whitechapel Gallery/MIT Press, 2011
---. Cracked Media: The Sound of Malfunction. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.
Friedrich A. Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, trans. Geoffrey Winthrop-Young & Michael Wutz, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 1999.
Dan Lander and Micah Lexier, eds.,  Sound by Artists, Toronto and Banff: Art Metropole/Walter Philips Gallery, 1990.
Amy Lawrence, Echo and Narcissus: Women’s Voices in Classical Hollywood Cinema. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.
Brandon LaBelle, Lexicon of the Mouth: Poetics and Politics of Voice and the Oral Imagination, London: Bloomsbury Academi, 2014.
---, Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life, London: Bloomsbury Academi, 2010.
---. Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art, Continuum, 2006.
Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith, Blackwell Publishers Inc., Cambridge, MA, 1991.
Alan Licht, Sound Art: Beyond Music, Between Categories, Rizzoli, 2007.
Paul D. Miller, Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture, MIT Press, 2008.
David Morton, Off the Record: The Technology and Culture of Sound Recording in America, Rutgers University Press, 2000.
John Mowitt. Sounds: The Ambient Humanities. Berkeley, CA: University of Calufornia Press, 2015.
Jean Luc Nancy. Listening, Charlotte Mandell, trans., New York: Fordham University Press, 2007.
David Novak & Matt Sakakeeny, eds. Keywords in Sound. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015.
Trevor Pinch and Karin Bijsterveld, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies, New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Tara Rodgers, ed. Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.
R. Murray Schafer, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, Destiny Books, Rochester, VT, 1977.
David Schwarz, Listening Subjects: Music, Psychoanalysis, Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997.
Hillel Schwartz, Making Noise: From Babel to The Big Bang and Beyond, Cambridge, M.A.: Zone Books, 2011.
Kaja Silverman, The Acoustic Mirror; The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema, Indiana University Press, Indianapolis, 1988.
Mary Ann Smart, ed. Siren Songs: Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Opera. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.
Mark M. Smith, Hearing History: A Reader, Athens: Georgia University Press, 2004
Jonathan Sterne, The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2003.
---, MP3: The Meaning of a Format (Sign, Storage, Transmission), Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2012.
Peter Szendy, Listen: A History of Our Ears, Fordham University Press, 2007.
Mark M. Smith, Hearing History: A Reader, Georgia Univ. Press, 2004.
Michael Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses, Routledge, New York, 1993.
Timothy Taylor, Strange Sounds: Music, Technology and Culture, Routledge, 2001.

Your final grade will be based on the following
Assignment 1 - 10%
Assignments 2 and 3 - 20% each (40% total)
 Assignment 4 - 30 %
Class participation* 20%

* Your general performance in class including participation, attendance, and punctuality, except in the special cases listed above, such as if you have more than 3 unexcused absences.

Generally, outstanding ('A') students in this class have good attendance and completed all their assignments on time. They are consistently well prepared for class, and actively participate in and advance our discussions with pertinent information, questions, and observations. Their work demonstrate their awareness of the issues at hand, the historical context for the film and videos they are discussing, as well as their ability to articulate their observations and analyses in a clear and concise manner. Only letter grades are given out in this class.

Academic Dishonesty-Academic dishonesty in any form -- including the representation of someone else's work as your own, the destruction or malicious alteration of the work of others, the re-use of work prepared for another course, and so on -- will be subject to the most severe penalties permitted under your school's student code.

Extra credit- Students are encouraged to attend screenings, conferences, lectures, exhibitions and web events related to this course. Write a two-page (typed and double-spaced) report of the event or activity. Incorporate the event's relevance to the class as well as your personal responses to it. Proof of attendance is required (keep your ticket stubs, programs, etc.) Students are allowed two extra credit papers. Announcements for events of interest to this class are done in the first 5 mins. of each class.

* I try my best to make my grading criteria as clear as possible, and you are welcome to come and discuss your grades and your class performance with me. However, I only consider legitimate concerns, and be aware that your grade is as likely to go down as it is to go up after I reassess your assignment. I do not tolerate haggling, bribing, threats, and any other pointless arguments. I consider all aspects of your performance before I assign a grade, please respect my assessment as I respect your efforts.

Equipment and editing rooms can now be reserved on-line at the Media Studies web site

Equipment Checkout Days:
Mondays and Thursdays

DVD, CD, DAT tapes and other media for class projects can be purchased at the bookstore, on-line, or at any good A/V supply store (Ametron, Studio Film & Tape, etc.) If you go to a supply store or buy on-line, it is usually cheaper to buy in bulk, so a group of you may want to organize and purchase tapes together.

* A note on general respect and care: we are all depending on each other to keep our equipment in good working order. If the equipment breaks down, no one can complete his or her work! You are responsible for reading and following rules for equipment usage. Stephanie Hutin, Eddie Gonzalez or myself may revoke access privileges at any time if the rules are not followed. Use common sense and please be considerate of each other: return the equipment on time.



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