Giving Students a Voice….Literally

Giving Students a Voice….Literally

 Giving  Students%0Aa Voice

Welcome Laura Fleming as  our Guest Blogger for this week! We are supremely happy to hear about how she has been able to give students the opportunity to speak in the classroom through Voki. 

Breaking down the barriers between students and teachers allows the opportunity for everyone to be learners learning together.  In addition to leveraging the distribution and proliferation of knowledge, students are empowered to take ownership of their own learning.  Engaging student voice allows them to have a significant degree of control and choice in what, when, and how they learn.  As educators, we cannot overlook how important it is for us to stop and really listen to the young people we work with everyday.  By embracing the voices of our learners, we all can transform education and make a difference in the world.  But what happens when your learners cannot express that voice?  This was the case at our school.

 

One of the teachers at my school was charged with teaching a public speaking class made up of developmentally disabled children.  She had taught many of those children for years and knew the best methods and tools to use with them to support their learning and allow for them to achieve success.  This teacher, however, was faced with an incredibly tough challenge.  Despite teaching one of the students in the class for 6 years, she had never heard this student speak.  It was at this time, I introduced the teacher to Voki.

 

At first glance to some, Voki may appear to be a ‘cool tool’ where students can create talking avatars.  For some students, that is the motivation and what they love best about the tool.  But in our case, it was Voki’s ability to give our student a voice, that made it such a powerful tool.  Our student was able to type text into Voki and then choose an avatar and a voice to speak the text for her.  She was able to tell us a story about an operation she had to fix her aorta and how she was brave even though it hurt and how important the comfort of her pet was in calming her nerves throughout the process.

 

Public speaking is an  important component to the educational process of special educations students with severe disabilities. Voki unlocked the silence of an eighteen year old student with selective mutism. Not only did we use Voki with that one student, we decided to use it with the entire class.  Students were able to speak or type their text, allowing for personalization and differentiation.

 

The simple experience of “making a toast” became life changing for one student. This student had not spoken in a classroom for the three years she had attended our high school. Using the Expanded Expressive Language tool she was able to fill in the graphic organizer to brainstorm her ideas of what she wanted to say.   With the help of her assistant she typed the text into Voki. Voki allowed her experience of making toast for her father’s birthday to come to life.  For the first time, other students and teachers were able to hear her words.  She was smiling during her entire presentation. She enjoyed picking her “person”, background and voice.  Voki was key to helping this student verbally express herself.


Thank you, Voki, for giving our students a voice.

headshot 2Laura Fleming is a library media specialist at New Milford High School in New Milford, NJ.  She is also the author of Worlds of Making:  Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace in Your School, published by Corwin Press.

Voki = Digital Tool of Choice

Voki = Digital Tool of Choice

Hello all you dedicated, determined, and tech-savvy  teachers! This Friday we’ve got another new and interesting perspective on how to use Voki in the classroom. Welcome Elizabeth Graham, our guest blogger and newest ambassador! Take it away, Elizabeth!
Hi everyone! Elizabeth Graham here. As a newly minted school library media specialist, I am always searching for engaging ways to integrate technology with curriculum content. During my school library internship, I learned about Voki and had the opportunity to try it out with a second grade biography project. Any time I have introduced Voki to students, they have immediately wanted to use it!
At my current school, Voki has been a tool of choice for several projects. The most recent example is our 5th graders’ Roaring 20s research. In collaboration with a fifth grade social studies teacher, this project allowed students to choose from a list of topics related to the 1920s in the United States. Students then spent several weeks utilizing research databases and other high quality resources to develop more understanding of their chosen topic. This is where Voki comes in. Students were given a choice of various web tools to use to develop a digital product that would reflect their learning about their topic. Once I demonstrated Voki to the class, the majority of students chose to make Vokis!
Students were instructed to either create an avatar of the famous figure they researched or to create a spokesperson avatar to explain the topic. The most important guideline was to work on the script or text first, then to customize the avatar’s look, background, and voice style. I have found that some students will get caught up in the design style and might forget to review their text.
Students worked on their Vokis for several weeks in a row during their library class. Each week they received feedback from me via the Voki review page. Notes included reviewing spelling, punctuation, capital letters and other writing fundamentals that make all the difference when creating a successful Voki.

My favorite part of this project was Presentation Day. Each student had the opportunity to share their project and the many Roaring 20s Vokis were big hits! Using Voki and other web tools, my students created digital products that reflected their learning. It was also a chance for students to bask in their accomplishments or, in a few cases, to realize they could have put in a little more effort. That is authentic learning and self evaluation!
Another plus of a web tool is how easy they are to share. Student Vokis were linked to our school library web page so that we could share them beyond our school community.

My 5th graders love Voki so much they have requested one more Voki project before the end of the year. Over the next few weeks, students will create Vokis of themselves leaving a message to the rising 5th graders, letting them know the ins and outs of life at our school. We are calling this our Legacy Vokis.

Elizabeth Graham is a School Library Media Specialist at Woodland Heights Elementary School in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Every week she provides library classes to over 500 students in grades K4-5th grade. Graham received her Master of Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina. She enjoys collaborating with classroom teachers to integrate technology into the curriculum and is always looking for new apps and web tools to try with her students. Her favorite thing is helping students create digital products that reflect their learning and encouraging them to share their work widely with the school, community and the world.

Woodland Heights Library Readers Blog: http://woodlandheightslibraryreaders.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @libscigal

Just another innovative take on integrating tech into the classroom! How are you blending your classroom?

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.)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.