Voki and Non-Fiction Text Unite!

Voki and Non-Fiction Text Unite!

paschall blog post

This week we have our very own ambassador Emily Paschall with us, blogging about how she was able to integrate Voki into her non-fiction text lesson. Watch the video at the end of  her blog post to get an insider’s look on what this lesson really looks like in the classroom.

Hi fellow teachers!

I am a third grade teacher at Tanner High School, a small K-12 school in Athens, Alabama. I have worked for Limestone County Schools for four years now. My whole purpose for this blog is provide teachers worldwide with new and fun ideas on how to implement technology in the classroom!

This year, our school superintendent, Dr. Tom Sisk, implemented our Digital Passport Initiative which has allowed for our 3rd and 4th graders to be 1:1 with their very own MacBook Air! Within the next 4 years, all students in grades 3-12 will have their own MacBooks. What an exciting experience this has been so far! There are so many more opportunities where I can provide a deeper understanding of the standards now than I could have ever imagined!

Recently, we were studying non-fiction text in our Wonders Reading Curriculum. The different texts we read all week were centered around different types of energy. I knew before the week began that this was going to be a difficult topic for my students to comprehend, so I collaborated with my technology facilitator and we came up with a simple and fun project for the students to do.

If you haven’t used Voki.com in your classroom yet, you are missing out! A voki is an educational tool that allows you to create your own talking avatar! What kid wouldn’t love that? You can find a use for a Voki in all subject areas.  I have included a video of myself teaching HOW to use Voki in the classroom! My hope is that this provides you with a fun, simple, and quick way to make learning more enjoyable for your students!

Thanks for reading!

-Emily Paschall

paschall video

Click the picture or the hyperlink to watch the video

https://youtu.be/rCy72BgUCuE

Bringing Book Talks to Life With Voki

Bringing Book Talks to Life With Voki

Welcome Carie Hinkle to the Voki Ambassador Team!  You’re in for a special treat with this Techie Teacher’s Techniques ( gotta love alliteration!)  Take a seat, take some notes, and take heed of our guest blogger’s implementation of technology in the classroom!

Bringing Book Talks to Life With Voki

By Carie Hinkle

 

Are you searching for a way to breathe new life into student book talks?  Perhaps you want to create a way students can share what they’re reading that transcends the boundaries of your classroom walls.  Allow me to suggest Voki.com.  

 

Greetings!  Carie Hinkle here.  I’m a sixth grade English Language Arts instructor in the heart of the Ozark Mountains in the U.S. I first came across Voki a few years ago while attending a technology conference.  However, it was a student led event in my own classroom that brought the full value Voki has to offer to my attention.  Student leaders were charged with the task of creating a lesson integrating technology with a relevant classroom application.  One of our student leader teams selected Voki as their technology tool. Throughout the day I received a flood of Vokis created by my students sharing everything from what their plans were for the weekend to their favorite event from the day, but my student leaders struck gold when they gave each class their summative assessment.  Their assignment? Create a Voki about a book you recently finished and email it to Mrs. Hinkle before you leave.  The idea of Voki Book Talks was born!

 

Taking from their idea, I began to look at the current format students were using to share about their reading  and how I could implement these expectations into this amazing resource.  Next, I set up a list of expectations each Voki would need to share during the book talk and within a few days my students were creating highly engaging and informative book talks.


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Book Talk Expectations

Here is the list I established for Voki Book Talks:

  1. Create a Voki for each book you would like to share with others.
  2. It must include your Name. (First Name Only)  Ex. “Hi, George here.”
  3. Title of Book and Author of Book
  4. Three specific details about the book.
  5. Your favorite part of the book.
  6. Would you recommend this book? If yes why? If no, why not?
  7. Your Voki must be written in complete sentences, using correct conventions, and it must make sense.
  8. Email your Voki to your teacher and any friends you want to share it with who have school email accounts.

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What Happened Next?

 

Well, students joined together to dance and sing joyful songs about my awesomeness as a teacher, of course!  Okay, that might be a bit of hyperbole on my part, but the improvement in my students’ abilities to present their knowledge was very real and just shy of a miracle cure for some of my emergent readers and writers.

I saw an immediate improvement in the quality of summaries my students submitted.  I attribute this to many things that make Voki.com unique and special.  If the student didn’t use correct conventions when writing the book talk, their Voki paused or didn’t pause appropriately while speaking. They could hear the errors even better than when they read their writing out loud to themselves.  Also, if their writing didn’t make sense, neither did their Voki.  It was so exciting to see students as they self assessed and made quality revisions in their work voluntarily and without prompts from me.

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Now we share our Voki Book Talks in class with everyone.  Gone are the isolated teacher student conversations from which no one benefits.  Instead, students are excited to share via email with their friends and vie for the opportunity to share in class.  In addition, students can go to a shared book talk document and view Voki book talks from all of my classes.  Another new goal among my students is to have s featured Voki book talk on my website.  Knowing I change out the featured Vokis every week has created a frenzy to finish their books in time to submit a Voki before I select my next featured artists.

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Emergent writers are more comfortable working in this medium because they can write, listen, and revise their work privately.  This is allows them to gain confidence in their skills and to experience successful sharing among their peers.  I’ve also noticed students are more willing to take risks using richer word choices and more complex sentences.

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Thanks, Voki.com!  You have created a way that allows students to use technology in a way that changes learning.

Check out some Voki Book Talks! Wouldn’t your students love this?

the dead and the buried

The Dead and Buried 

By Kim Harrington

Student: Ashley

http://www.voki.com/php/viewmessage/?chsm=599280fddbd3fd2cce5ff884c7442903&mId=2520097

virals

Virals

By Kathy Reichs

Student: Jazzy

http://www.voki.com/php/viewmessage/?chsm=af7009c76d960426bd446fa4c5574f84&mId=2520321

miracle on 30th

Miracle On 30th Street

By Mike Lupica

Student: Layton

http://www.voki.com/php/viewmessage/?chsm=852d6cf477fcb5a43f0368ad94e603a8&mId=2535263

the goddess test

​The Goddess Test

By Aimee Carter

Student: Daniela

http://www.voki.com/php/viewmessage/?chsm=94239f66b1b2e23b1e0a93480754cbe4&mId=2520596

 Watch her amazing Book Talks Video here

Thanks, Carie!  Hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more Voki Book Talks in classrooms everywhere!

carie hinkle

Carie is a 6th grade ELA teacher at Hollister Middle School in the heart of the Ozark Mountains in Missouri. She has taught 4th and 5th grade in years past, but has finally met her true passion in 6th grade ELA. She has a Masters in Elementary Education and is currently working toward her eMINTS certification and becoming an authorized Google Trainer. She is excited to join forces with Voki.comand to encourage others to use technology in a way that changes learning.

Student Choice in the Classroom

Student Choice in the Classroom

student choice

Welcome Karianne Politowski as this week’s guest blogger! 

 At Voki, we love more than anything sharing the authentic ways in which teachers are using Voki to enrich their classrooms. See how her students used Voki! Take it away Karianne! 

Voki is a tool I can use no matter what grade level or subject I am teaching.  My teaching career thus far has been anything but boring. I have rarely taught the same thing two years in a row. Voki is a great tool to use with my students because it is both easy to use and a great way for students to demonstrate learning. This year I used it for the students to describe the differences between pioneer schools and our schools.

karianne ss

http://kidblog.org/WASE3Blue/bd731dec-0cfc-4dc2-ba86-c97772c30bda/pioneer-school-facts-6/

For the first project of the year using Voki, I let the students choose any backgrounds, and characters they want. This way they get a feel for the options that are available. As they get more comfortable, they are asked to use characters and backgrounds that match the content they are sharing.karianness2http://kidblog.org/WASE3Blue/eb52c2ab-a709-420e-a2ba-76c2cb70895d/pioneer-school-facts-7/

Another reason I love Voki is because the students can easily embed their projects on their blogs. Then they can get feedback from all over the world on their work. Feedback from authentic audiences motivates students to do their best work. Constructive criticism from outside sources is taken much more seriously than if it just comes from their teacher.  karianness3http://kidblog.org/WASE3Blue/9f342e0b-2d7b-4e88-ba3c-3b7cc7afe772/pioneer-facts/

I am trying to incorporate student choice into my classroom as often as I can. Online tools like Voki are a great way for me to do this. I introduce each tool at the beginning of the year. By mid-year, students are allowed to choose which tool they want to use to show me what they have learned.kariss4

http://kidblog.org/WASE3Yellow/2540f434-155c-458b-9d09-2499e6c4ca1d/my-pioneer-voki/

kariss5

http://kidblog.org/WASE3Yellow/8ea0418d-5d8b-486d-b75b-11d97ccd7df0/pioneer-facts/

Thanks, Karianne! 

class selfieKarianne is a 3rd grade teacher at Wallenpaupack Area South Elementary School located in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. In her past 6 years here at WASE, she has  taught 3rd, 4th and 6th grades. She has a Masters in Educational Technology!

Teacher Easter Basket! (Sorry, no chocolate…)

Teacher Easter Basket! (Sorry, no chocolate…)

teacher easter basket

The Easter Bunny hasn’t forgotten about the teachers or Blended Learning!    He (or she, for that matter) has delivered  a list of online interactive games (and a read aloud) for you to use!

Not only that!  She (or he) has included ways to use these games and activities as teachable moments and classroom culture builders!

Happy Gamification! And Easter!

Find the Easter Eggs

Capture

Teach your students how to work together by supporting one another during this game.

  • What do we do if our classmate makes a mistake?
  • Why is it important to wait our turn?
  • If we lose the game how should we react?

This is a great way to strengthen your classroom culture with games!

http://www.softschools.com/games/puzzle_games/easter_egg_hunt/

Easter Egg Designer

eastereggdesigner

Get your students’ creative juices flowing.  This activity is great for students who get frustrated with drawing. This activity allows for creativity by just clicking, dragging and dropping!

  • Let your students design their own Easter eggs in pairs (to practice  taking turns)
  •  On the smartboard to make a whole class created Easter egg
  • Or individually (if you have enough screens in the  classroom)

http://www.primarygames.com/holidays/easter/games/eastereggdesigner/

 Easter Egg Candy crush

eastereggcandycrush

Most of your students all probably know the game “Candy Crush”  Use their previous knowledge of this game to build excitement in the classroom. Have them practice teamwork by splitting the class into two groups  and helping them come up with systems to make group decisions.  Then let them compete against each other. Talk about how the competition played out. What did they do well? What could they do better next time?

http://www.primarygames.com/holidays/easter/games/eastereggs/

 Dye Easter Eggs in the Classroom!

virtualeasteggmaker

 

Teach your students how to make  Easter eggs and an Easter basket – virtually!!

Some of your students may not get a chance to dye eggs this Easter. This activity allows your students to engage in this activity without all the mess. Have your students take turns. You could even turn this into a writing activity and have your students write a “How – To”  make Easter Eggs writing piece!

(*IMPORTANT NOTE: Remind them not to boil water/ go near the           stove without an adult!)

http://www.primarygames.com/holidays/easter/games/easterbasketmaker/

“Happy Easter, Curious George”  Read Aloud  

curiousgeorgeeaster

Pop in some think aloud questions/comments, and some turn and talks to get your students thinking during this read aloud. At the end of the read aloud, do a whole class conversation (or grand conversation) about the book to assess your students’ listening comprehension and to observe their level of critical thinking.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ATdGIp4V-s

I– I mean, “The Easter Bunny”, hopes you enjoy your basket!

Until next time,

 Heather 

HeatherBio: Heather is the Community Manager at Voki and is part of the Marketing Team at Oddcast.  Before she joined the Voki team, she was a teacher for 7 years!  She has taught in charter, private, and public schools all across NYC. With her teacher hat on, she will create meaningful, engaging, and relevant content that can be implemented in your classrooms.  She is excited to partner with you to engage and educate your students! 

Giveaways and Resource Goodies!

Giveaways and Resource Goodies!

GIVEAWAYS AND RESOURCE GOODIES

Our very own ambassador, Vipula Sharma, has created an extensive spread of all things Voki! She will also be giving teachers a chance to win a FREE SUBSCRIPTION of Voki Classroom and Voki Presenter! Stay tuned to learn how!

vipulatackk

Ever wonder how other teachers are using Voki? No need to just wonder anymore. Check out the variety of ways Voki is being utilized in Vipula’s Tackk (a fun way to create an informational collage and share about a topic.)

vipulatackk2

This presentation (Click on any of the screenshots to get directed to it) shares how teachers can use Voki and Voki Presenter. In fact, the presentation is made with Voki Presenter! It gives tips and pointers to teachers who may not realize the different interesting ways Voki can be used in the classroom.

vupulatack3

Like, if you want to make your Voki speak in a different language (one that Voki doesn’t provide) you must type phonetically!

The use of different languages in the classroom provides language diversity!  Giving students the chance to interact with different languages and accents is a proactive way of having a discussion around different cultures and languages and how to react when you hear a different accent or language. And if you are an ESL teacher, those students who may be nervous about speaking a new language, may feel more comfortable hearing their native language in the classroom and seeing their classmates interact with that language in a positive way.

vipula4

It’s great speaking practice. Students can record their voices and listen to how they sound. They can compare their own voices to Voki voices. For those students that are less prone to participate if they have to speak in front of the entire class, their Voki can speak for them.

vipula5

Mr. President kindly points out how to join and explore the Voki communities. Check out lesson plans on our Voki.com  website by clicking on the lesson plans tab at the top of the page, follow us on twitter, search for #VokiRocks to join the conversation, and read, comment, and share our blog posts at The Official Voki Blog. You CAN”T say no to Mr. President!

vip6

Here come your RESOURCE GOODIES! Vipula has created a list of online destinations for you to see what educators are saying about Voki and how they are using it!

vip9

For any beginners out there who are interested in creating a Voki,( C’mon you know you want to!) Vipula has added one of our tutorials to show you how quick, easy, and fun it is to create a talking character all your own.

vip8

And now for the Giveaway!! What do you have to do?

  • Share an idea of how you would use Voki in a certain subject area
  • Share an example
  • Share a short write-up
  • Tweet it at @officialvoki and @vipulasharma1

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Check out Vipula’s Tackk to see the whole Voki presentation and all of the resources she has compiled for her fellow teachers and Voki Lovers!

Thanks, Vipula!

vipula sharma

Vipula Sharma

Bio: Teacher of EAL, Extended Project & KS3-4 Careers Advisor | Tech Coach | a lifelong learner | keen to use technology to support and extend learning for all.

Guest Blogger Eoghan Evesson: 3 Juicy Ways to Engage in the Classroom

Guest Blogger Eoghan Evesson: 3 Juicy Ways to Engage in the Classroom

3 juicy ways to engage eoghan evesson

My name is Eoghan Evesson and I work as a Second-level English teacher in Ireland. I first discovered Voki, as with most things that improve my teaching, on Twitter. I was researching ways to give my pupils’ work a voice beyond what was written on the page. That’s exactly what Voki is: a safe, convenient and engaging way to bring written work alive. As I started to use Voki over the subsequent weeks and months I discovered Voki’s unique talking avatar style could be applied by teachers in many ways. In this blog post I’d like to outline three ways that teachers, primarily but not exclusively English teachers, can use Voki in their teaching and learning.

1. Deliberate Mistakes

Can teaching grammar to First Year pupils (13 Years old) be fun? Absolutely. There are lots of innovative and engaging ways to help pupils improve their writing ability and Voki is one more. One such exercise I used with pupils was how to use apostrophes when contracting words.Voki 1

This is an example of a Voki with

deliberate grammatical mistakes.

Can you spot them!?

http://www.voki.com/pickup.php?scid=10910221&height=267&width=200

I would start by creating five Vokis with misused contractions, five times, in the  your text section. Pupils then work in groups and listen to the Voki avatar talking. Groups are awarded one point for noting a mistake and another point for explaining on their page how the word should be used correctly. It’s fantastic to hear a table explain to each other the difference between it’s and its!

This task encourages active listening, understanding context and identifying key concepts. This task could be easily adapted into other subjects by deliberately misspelling or deliberately misusing key terms or concepts in the avatar ‘type your text’ box.

2. End of Project

Like most English teachers, I like to teach that good writing requires a process. You go through a process of analyzing the task, first draft, second draft, and then editing the piece. I’ve found that Voki is a great way for pupils to present their final piece of work. This term I asked one of my Junior English classes to write a short news report from the perspective of a person on the island from The Lord of the Flies

The pupils planned their work and made a first attempt in their copy. We then discussed the first attempts and realized that we were writing fun news reports, but we were not really capturing the mood, details or atmosphere of the novel. Having written and discussed our pieces a second time we decided to create Voki characters reading out their work.

 Voki 2

This Voki was created by a pupil speaking

from the perspective of a character on the

island from Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’

http://www.voki.com/pickup.php?scid=10799672&height=267&width=200

Voki acted as a way for the pupils’ hard work to be given more validation than it would have received by leaving it in the copies. You might consider Voki at the end of your next class project.

3. Announcements/Homework

One of the most common ways I use Voki is to create an avatar on our English http://newenglishirl.blogspot.ie/ Every month I create an avatar that discusses recent blog posts. I feel it gives the blog page an interactive and engaging element.

Voki 3

This is a Voki that was used as

a monthly update on our English

Department blog

http://www.voki.com/pickup.php?scid=10871042&height=267&width=200

Voki can be a great virtual assistant in your classroom for the day you are out of school or it can be placed as a QR link in your pupils’ copy or the Voki character can be the bearer of bad news: homework!

Your Voki avatar can also assist with correcting of homework. If you are using a VLE with your pupils you can write the feedback for the task into a Voki avatar. Using the Voki avatar gives great immediacy and presence to the feedback but it has the added benefit of never getting lost. If you have a class for an entire year or perhaps two years, your pupils will begin to gather a collection of feedback on their work. This is obviously invaluable for the pupil’s development as they can hear common mistakes in their work and improve.

Conclusion

I hope you found these suggestions helpful. The ease of access, engaging and intuitive nature of Voki make it a fantastic tool in many different types of classroom. As an English teacher it encourages a better understanding of voice and audience. Often, not always, when we write, we write to be heard. Voki is a safe place for young writers to start to hear their words come to life.

Me

My name is Eoghan Evesson and I’m a teacher of English to Second-Level pupils in Ireland. I work in the fantastic Newbridge College, Co. Kildare, teaching pupils from the ages of 13-19. I’m passionate about using ICT to help pupils engage more, enjoy more and most importantly learn more in my classes. You can find me on Twitter @JCenglishNet

Test Prep: Can It Be Meaningful and Fun?

Test Prep: Can It Be Meaningful and Fun?

canva

Heather here.  I want to start today’s blog post with that enormous elephant in the room: Test Prep.

Oh,Test Prep. It strikes fear into the heart of students, teachers, and principals alike. It certainly did for me.

Some teachers believe testing is important. Others believe it takes away from authentic learning time. Whatever your beliefs about testing, we have to come to the understanding that, for the time being, these tests are here to stay.

So, what can a teacher do to help his/her students feel confident during the testing months?  One way is to utilize relevant content to teach test sophistication and critical thinking.

What does that look like in a real-world class setting?

Let’s say your first grade class has been learning about animals and their habitats for the past month and you want to know if they can use what they’ve learned and transfer it to an entirely different task.  What you can do is make your test prep questions all about the different habitats you’ve studied. Not only are you teaching meaningful content, but you are also giving them more time to explore the content and possibly acquire additional knowledge on the subject. Yay!

Now, let’s tackle the second problem with Test Prep– its boring factor.

Test Prep is widely recognized as the epitome of boring. Teachers hate teaching it.  Students hate doing it. Nobody wins.

Unless, of course, you can utilize a stimulating and engaging vessel from which to deliver said Test Prep strategies, then maybe, just maybe, your students are in for a treat.

Today I’d like to share with you a presentation (created in Voki Presenter) that I believe is engaging and fun and teaches precise listening skills. The NYSESLAT is an ESL state exam that my students used to take.  So, I used this exam as fodder for my presentation.

First,  I downloaded the NYSESLAT  sampler for grades 1-2.

I picked one question type that I wanted to practice:

L1

And then created my objective based on the strategies I wanted my students to practice and master: Students will practice great listening by scanning the pictures and listening for keywords.Capture I began creating my lesson on Voki Presenter. I made sure to choose an interesting and appropriate Voki so that my students could make a connection with the character. If your students love robots, choose a robot. if your students adore cats, then that’s the character you should choose. I chose an adorable puppy. Let’s call her Lola.puppy

On each slide, Lola guides the students through the lesson. On my second, slide Lola does a “Think Aloud” to show the students how she looks at the pictures and draws a conclusion from what she sees. The students can then easily mimic how Lola uses the pictures to help her narrow down what the keyword might be about.

Listening pg2

Once Lola does her Think Aloud, then Lola and the class listen for the keywords. The question will be repeated twice: Which picture shows a boy using his sense of smell? Which picture shows a boy using his sense of smell?  Lola then launches into a second Think Aloud. Students listen as Lola models her thought process.

listening pg 3

Some students will know the answer right away.  Some will need more practice. Take the time to reveal the answer so students know if they’re headed in the right direction.

listening pg 4

Now it’s time for the students to try it with you. You and Lola will guide them through a parallel listening activity. The topic of this second question should be a relevant topic. This way you are using content that is part of the curriculum they’ve already been learning through out the year.  Maybe in science class they’re learning about the life cycle, or space. Here is where you can infuse those topics into Test Prep questions. Remember, during this slide you (and Lola) are asking open-ended questions to guide the students’ learning.  i.e. What is different about the pictures? What is the same?  What are the boys doing? Guide them through the next three slides.  Do a few  “Turn and Talks.” Ask your students how they knew what the keyword was? Listen in to assess which students seem to be getting it and which aren’t quite there yet.

listening pg5listening pg6

listening pg7

 After you try one together, create some additional slides with the same kind of listening questions if you feel your students need more guidance. Once you feel they are ready to try some on their own, You can send them back to their desks to try this technique by themselves. Circulate the room and conference with students that you noticed were struggling during the Turn and Talks. Ask students to Think Aloud and ask themselves questions just like Lola did.

Here is the link to this presentation.  Modify as you see fit! I recommend pausing before each slide plays so that you can read the slide and share with your students what they will be doing next.

http://www.voki.com/presenter/playPresentation.php?id=f5aa4bd09c07d8b2f65bad6c7cd3358f

Please comment and tell me what kind of presentations you would like to see.  What topics? Which subjects?

 Let Me Know!

Cheers,

Heather

Heather

Bio: Heather is the Community Manager for Voki and is part of the Marketing Team at Oddcast.  Before she joined the Voki team, she was a teacher for 7 years!  She has taught in charter, private, and public schools all across NYC. With her teacher hat on, she will create meaningful, engaging, and relevant content that can be implemented in your classrooms.  She is excited to partner with you to engage and educate your students!