Creating Reading Comprehension Assessments with VoiceThread

Any teacher who asks students to read materials understands the important of reading comprehension. Whether you are an elementary school teacher who teaches reading, a foreign language teacher who works to build fluency, or a history teacher who wants students to learn about WWII from their textbook, comprehension is vital to the process.

As Daniel Willingham points out in his NY Times Op-Ed, comprehension isn’t simply about decoding; it’s also about vocabulary and context. Typically, teachers who are looking to assess reading comprehension ask students to read a passage, then have them answer questions about the text. Many of these assessments are pre-packaged activities in workbooks or practice tests. VoiceThread can allow educators to construct their own assessments that include these additional components.



The good news is that creating this type of rich assessment is easy with VoiceThread. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Find a passage you want students to read. Go through the passage, noting the vocabulary or context issues students may find confusing.
  2. Find images that can serve to explain the tricky words or unclear context involved in the passage.
  3. Create a slide with the passage you want students to read. This can be done by pasting the passage into a PPT or Keynote presentation, a Word document or simply taking a screenshot of the text and saving the image.
  4. Upload the document or slide you created to your VoiceThread, along with the images for the vocabulary words and context cues they will need for background information.
  5. Record your instructions for the students, asking them the comprehension, vocabulary and context questions.
  6. Students can then record their answers right on each slide. (If you don’t want students to hear each others’ answers, simply turn on Comment Moderation.)


This type of assignment can not only build knowledge for your students, but it can also help give you a clearer picture about their true ability to comprehend the passages. VoiceThread empowers teachers to use visuals and a more human interaction that workbooks fail to provide. Reading comprehension assessments don’t need to be stuck in a text-only environment, and neither do your students. Give VoiceThread a try and let us know the difference it can make!