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! 

Voki: Changing The Way My Students Learn

Voki: Changing The Way My Students Learn

gurgastudentphotoHow is Voki revolutionizing the way students learn in the classroom? Find out in Gianna Gurga’s

(Our newest guest blogger’s) blog post!

https://fishphilosopher.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/voki-changing-the-way-my-students-learn/

gianna gurgaGianna Gurga is a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at 2 PK-8 schools in Waterbury, CT. She has been teaching for 4 years and has developed a passion for increasing students’ learning abilities by incorporating technology into various lessons and activities. Currently, Gianna is 5 weeks away from completing her Master of Education program in Instructional Design and Technology at Post University in Waterbury, CT. In addition to being a full-time teacher and graduate student, she is a High School Girls Tennis Coach, a ZUMBA Fitness Instructor, and a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant.

Heather Joins The Team

Heather Joins The Team

Hello Voki users!

My name is Heather Brown and I am the new Community Manager at Voki. One of the reasons why I joined the Voki Team is because—as a teacher– I see such potential in Voki. It truly is a groundbreaking tool for students and teachers. I believe that if Voki and educators work together, we will be able to revolutionize the way students engage with curriculum and the way teachers engage with students.

So, let me backtrack for a second and tell you a little bit about me. I am a New Yorker, born and raised in Manhattan. My mother is a teacher, my father is a teacher, and my sister is a teacher.

One might say teaching is my family’s “family business.”

I’ve taught in schools all over NYC for seven years. During my travels, I noticed a few harrowing things:

  1. Many students weren’t engaged
  1. Many teachers were overwhelmed
  1. New curricula and common core standards were making numbers 1. and 2. even worse.

It’s clear that we can’t possibly solve these issues overnight.

But, it is my belief that a good first step is helping teachers feel more comfortable with what technology can offer them in their classrooms.

It can be scary to try something new. It can be hard to see the benefits of utilizing the digital space as an academic tool.  It can feel like just another new task to add to the pile of duties you already have. All of these feelings are very real and understandable.

But, I’ll share something I learned my first year as a teacher.  A phrase I still whisper to myself seven years later– “You have to lean into discomfort.” Besides, this is something that we ask our students to do every single day! Shouldn’t we lead by example and show them that even as an adult it is okay to be fearful of failing as long as you push through that fear?   Well, you know what my answer is. Of course, we must show our students that we, too, are learners who fail and fail again, until we succeed.

And you won’t be alone. There are so many teachers out there who are learning just like you, how to integrate technology into the classroom. Let us help. Voki and your fellow teachers are prepared to be your guides through the educational digital landscape.

Now, to those of you who are already taking advantage of the benefits that being a technologically savvy teacher can bring, BRAVO!  Keep doing what you’re doing.  Your students thank you for engaging them and bringing learning to life. But, remember, you have a responsibility to share your digital experiences with other educators who may need some guidance. Take them under your wing, share with them, and support them.

As for me, I am here to make teaching just a little bit easier for you.

  • I will post meaningful content across all of the Voki platforms—including this one.
  • I will listen to your needs, wants, frustrations, and feedback.
  • I will keep you abreast of the changes occurring at Voki Headquarters.
  • I will motivate you during your most challenging times.
  • I will facilitate the sharing of innovative ideas within our community.

At Voki, we believe that a close-knit community of teachers sharing their knowledge, technological expertise, and creativity, is a MUST in the movement to educate and engage.

So, are you with us?

BioHeather: 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. She is excited to partner with you to  engage and educate your students! 

What is a haiku?

What is a haiku?

A haiku is a form of poetry from Japan. They are short poems that consist of 3 lines with 17 syllables. It was originally created by Japanese poets and it was then adopted by every modern language. Haikus are often focuses on nature but can be used for many different subjects.

The structure of a haiku is the following:

Line 1 – 5 syllables

Line 2 – 7 syllables

Line 3 – 5 syllables

Here are some examples of haiku poems:

By Murakami, Kijo

First autumn morning:

the mirror I stare into

shows my father’s face.

By Shiki, Masaoka

A lightning flash:

between the forest trees

I have seen water.

Until next time,

Eva D.

The Voki Team

1560505_10152516453053764_8553617582835278394_nBio: Eva is the Community Manager for Voki and is part of the Marketing Team at Oddcast. She enjoys playing the piano and knitting on her free time. (She’s also a Rubik’s cube master!) She loves to hear your feedback and comments for Voki!

Time Management Tips for Students

Time Management Tips for Students

Blog-Cartoon-timemanHaving time management skill is very important, especially if you are a student. With good time management skills, you will be able to have a better control over your life and have less stress!

Here are some tips to help you develop good time management skills to help you take control of your time!

Make a to-do list.

A to-do list can help you stay organized. Put the most important tasks at the top and tackle them first. Also include the things that you wanted to do on your list. Motivate yourself with a reward if you get to everything on your list! (Maybe with a piece of chocolate or a nice cup of tea!) This can help you figure out how much time you can spend on the different tasks.

Create a dedicated study time.

Sometimes, you may be caught up with other activities at home and at school. Set up a specific time devoted to studying or homework. Remember to shut off your phone so you do not respond to any calls or text. Only pick up your phone when your work is finished. Stay away from your computer (except when you need it for your work).

Do not procrastinate.

Procrastination is bad. You have to keep in mind the due dates for each assignment and do not get sidetracked by other activities. Once you have your due date in mind, plan out the time you wanted to spend on it. Remember start your work early. Do not wait until the last minute to do the assignment. Make it your goal to finish early.

What other time management tips do you have? Let us know!

Until next time,

Eva D.

The Voki Team

1560505_10152516453053764_8553617582835278394_nBio: Eva is the Community Manager for Voki and is part of the Marketing Team at Oddcast. She enjoys playing the piano and knitting on her free time. (She’s also a Rubik’s cube master!) She loves to hear your feedback and comments for Voki!

The Importance of Time Management in Class

The Importance of Time Management in Class

timemanagement_1600x900If you are a teacher, you know that you need to have really good time management skills in order to finish that daily to-do list. So, time management is a very important skill to have. Teacher can use this in the classroom to optimize learning opportunities for students.

Time management is important because it helps you prioritize your work. After you have your list of daily tasks down, you need to figure out what you should do first. Those that are important should be the first ones you should tackle. Should the students learn this lesson first or do this activity first?

With time management, it helps you get more things done in less time. Once you map out your tasks and time, you can figure out how much time you can put into the task. Also, it can help you map out other fun activities in class!

Teachers, if you need some time management tips from Voki, check out our other blog post here!

Until next time,

Eva D.

The Voki Team

1560505_10152516453053764_8553617582835278394_nBio: Eva is the Community Manager for Voki and is part of the Marketing Team at Oddcast. She enjoys playing the piano and knitting on her free time. (She’s also a Rubik’s cube master!) She loves to hear your feedback and comments for Voki!