Students help first graders digitally publish work

May 4, 2015
Alyssa Polzin, Lara Daentl, Heather Trumpy
Alyssa Polzin with student

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Three students from the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville used VoiceThread, a technological teaching tool, to help first graders in three classrooms at Mineral Point Elementary School in Mineral Point, Wis., complete a writing project.

VoiceThread is a web-based, collaborative tool that enables users to upload images, video and audio, to which other users can add voice, text or video comments.

UW-Platteville students included Alyssa Polzin, a junior elementary education major from Hartford, Wis.; Lara Daentl, a sophomore agriculture education major from Edmund, Wis.; and Heather Trumpy, a senior mathematics in secondary education major from Platteville.

Polzin, Daentl and Trumpy are enrolled in the Educational Media Applications course, taught by Jessica Brogley, lecturer in the School of Education. The Mineral Point Elementary School students are taught by Penny Wiegel, Kimberly Diefenbach and Marcia Roberts.

In the elementary classrooms, the Mineral Point teachers taught the first graders about butterflies then helped them write non-fiction, informational pieces about what they had learned, complete with illustrations. Following, the university students helped the younger students use VoiceThread to record their voices reading the stories so their work could be published.

“The students at Mineral Point Elementary were very enthusiastic and excited to record their voices on their unique, hand-written stories on butterflies,” said Daentl. “They shared with me everything they learned about butterflies, and they were eager to learn even more. It makes me so happy and inspired to see students excited about what they are learning.”

“This opportunity was valuable for me because I was able to become more comfortable with new technology while working with young, eager-to-learn students,” said Daentl. “Educational technology plays a big role, inside and outside of the classroom. With technology on the rise, students are comfortable with technology and enjoy the challenge of learning new apps and technology devices. By using technology in the classroom, students are able to interact with classmates by practicing and showing their knowledge on new material. This can help students enhance their creativity and apply hands-on what they are learning in class.”

Brogley said that the project gave her students an opportunity to gain experience working with children and learn how to integrate a piece of technology in the classroom. “Students need to see how to work through technology problems in a live environment, and VoiceThread happens to be a versatile tool that allows students to demonstrate their understanding while using text, audio and video.”

“This was a fantastic partnership with UW-Platteville because everyone involved was learning,” said Diefenbach. “First graders had an authentic purpose for publishing their work and they were able to learn about the publishing process through a hands-on approach while learning about technology.”

“The UW-Platteville students were able to apply the technology and methods they learned about in their coursework directly with students,” Diefenbach said. “This opportunity not only enabled them to work with students and try out VoiceThread, but also allowed them to work through various scenarios that occur naturally every day in teaching and working with technology that require on-the- spot problem-solving, flexibility and decision-making that can only truly be learned through experience. The opportunity to work through situations and then debrief and reflect on them back in the classroom is an invaluable learning experience for these pre-service teachers. The first graders are already asking when they get to do another project with the students. We look forward to partnering with Jessica on more projects like this in the future.”

The VoiceThread project can be viewed by visiting

As UW-Platteville pursues its vision of being recognized as the leading student-focused university for its success in achieving excellence, creating opportunities and empowering each individual, it is guided by four strategic planning priorities. This collaborative project aligns with three of the priorities, including providing an outstanding education, fostering a community of achievement and respect and enriching the tri-state region. 

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191,


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UIC: Strategic Plan in Action

Strategic Plan in Action

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Strategic Plan is centered around the following priorities:

  • Provide an outstanding education
  • Foster a community of achievement and respect
  • Control our own destiny
  • Enrich the tri-state region

Read more about how the university is executing this plan, as well as find examples of its success on the strategic plan website.

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