The Benefits of Hooks

The Benefits of Hooks

How many of you have found yourself in this situation: it is Saturday night and you are watching TV.  All of a sudden, this intriguing movie trailer comes scrolling across your screen.  It is a teaser about this amazing movie coming out this summer.  You are captivated and memorized.  You have to find out as much as you can about this movie that has captured your attention.  You are hooked, line and sinker.  You will be buying tickets online to see that movie as soon as they are available.  Effective classroom hooks are the same in regards to exciting movie trailers.  A great hook gives students a preview of what an amazing lesson is getting ready to be taught and learned. It can make the difference between the best lesson ever and the worst.

Student engagement during lessons is an area in education that teachers are battling on a daily basis.  Dorit Sasson, author of “7 Ways to Start a Great Lesson”, emphasizes that “the most important part of the lesson occurs during the first five minutes.” What is the trick to engaging students? According to “Shooting for Success!  Madeline Hunter Lesson Cycle”, written by the creator of the “anticipatory set” or “hook”, “the hook should excite students about the subject matter.” Hook activities are short introductions at the beginning of a lesson or even a project.  A hook can be a song, rap, dance, game, acting skit, art activity or even a technology-integrated activity that is directly related to the lesson’s topic. Ms. Hunter also states that the hook should “grab the students not focused upon learning. By having an activity related to what will be learned, it shifts their attention to the learning process. Anticipatory set can also establish a readiness or anticipation for what is to follow. For the “hook” to do so, it must pique students’ interest. Otherwise it might do the opposite and turn students off to the topic.”

I have talked about what hooks are and what purpose they serve during a lesson.  Now let’s talk about the benefits of hooks.  Hooks provide engagement, excitement and a gateway into the lesson’s objective that can prepare and motivate students to learn the content being taught.  Students can focus on creating more productive work and hooks make the learning environment fun right from the start.  These activities can tap into the multiple intelligence approach to learning simply by allowing teachers to be creative with the type of hooks used to kick off the lesson. For example, in Using Hook Stations to Engage Students in a Lesson, Hillary Mills, a 7th grade Science-Geology teacher, uses hook stations to kick off her geology/biology lesson.  The stations are set up just like small group learning stations but incorporated at the beginning of the lesson.  Each of the stations incorporates different hands on activities, with the students acting as geologists studying fossils in each case.

Before I became the Voki Content Development Manager at Oddcast, I was a classroom teacher for twenty years with a Master’s degree in Integrating Technology in the K-12 Classroom from Walden University.  When I reflect on the years I taught in the classroom, the lessons that resulted in the best student engagement were always the ones that kicked off with an awesome hook.  I would always use different style hooks that would touch on the variety of learning styles in my class to meet all of their learning needs.  Of course I was passionate about integrating technology as much as possible into my lessons!  I really wish I had the opportunity to use Voki Speaking Characters as hooks when I taught. It would have been one of the top software integration tools incorporated into my lessons. I truly believe Voki Hooks capture and engage the 21st Century learner.  There are a variety of ways to use these speaking characters and Voki Hooks are just one way.  The Voki Hook activities guided by the Voki speaking characters provide top level engagement at the beginning of lessons. There are over 250 speaking characters to choose from and some fit perfectly into themed units of study. There are also hooks created to celebrate special days of the year like Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, St. Patrick’s Day and National Pencil Day!  Here are some examples of exemplary Voki Hooks—feel free to incorporate them into your classroom lessons:

March Madness Multiplication

Tell a Fairy Tale Day

Phases of the Moon

Pencil Day

Voki also has a product called Voki Teach.  Voki Teach is a library of Common-Core aligned lessons, hooks, and tech project activities in the areas of ELA, Math, and Social Studies. Science and Foreign Languages are coming soon.  Learn more here:


the goldfish and the hook





Christina Bazemore is the Content Development Manager at Oddcast.  She was an elementary, high school, technology lab teacher and soccer coach for twenty years.  She received her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education from Georgia Southern University and her Master’s Degree in Integrating Technology in the K-12 Classroom from Walden University.  She is fulfilling her lifelong dream of working and living in New York City.  She has one son, Andy and a dog named Shadow!   Christina is a big Georgia Bulldog football fan!

Voki Teach: Making Lesson Planning Easier

Voki Teach: Making Lesson Planning Easier


It’s Sunday, but instead of being out and about, you’re perched over your screen opening new tab after new tab. You’re hoping that you’ll land on the site you’ve been looking for, and that your endless hours of research will prove fruitful. But as the clock hands fly in their circular orbit, the only answer you’ve arrived at is, “this is going nowhere.”

For a teacher, weekend lesson planning can quickly replace #SundayFunday with #teacherproblems. Hunting for the right activities to fill your curriculum likely includes a fact-checking process where too many marks are missed: standards aren’t met, technology isn’t integrated, methods are out of line with your teaching style.

But before you peg yourself as a lead-less investigative journalist, we have something that might just solve the problem. Our New Voki Teach Library hosts lessons, hooks, and tech projects all in one spot on Voki Teach not only eliminates the blind search in the thicket of the World Wide Web, it allows you to specify what grade and subject area you are interested in. To make your selection process even easier, all of our content is rated by fellow teachers so you can curate the material that is liked by your peers.

Think about your potential school day using Voki Teach. Say it’s National Grammar Day. You can kick off your Language Arts lesson using the National Grammar Day hook and have your students create grammar superheroes that wield special powers and rescue sentence errors (our Voki avatar Fragment Eliminator and Comma Man will show you how it’s done). Having engaged your students with this activity, you can then transition into the other objectives you have prepared for the class.

Fourth period bell rings. Some students are cowering at the thought of learning new math techniques. Our Voki Teach Math lessons incorporate games into the lesson, so multiplying is not so meticulous.

Science time. Learning the states of matter can be confusing. How does a liquid transform into a gas again? Our Voki Teach tech project outlines how a teacher should demonstrate the different properties of matter, and prompts the student to recall what he knows by designing a Voki avatar at the end of the lesson that reiterates the material.

The Voki experience is everything but dull. Research shows that technology integration in your classroom boosts student performance, and talking avatars are proven to engage all types of learners across age groups. Voki activities get students hands-on with their work, customizing their own avatars to deliver the knowledge they’ve obtained.

Wouldn’t you rather hear a lesson from an avatar? Or better yet, have one give your answer?

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Catherine Alvino is the Digital Marketing Coordinator at Oddcast. She holds a BA in English Literature and a MBA with a concentration in Marketing. She loves to write and is proud to work for a company that adds value to learning.

Election Talk for Kids, #vokipromo, and More

Election Talk for Kids, #vokipromo, and More

School is around the corner. We’re not suggesting you pack up your beach bag just yet, but if you’re starting to brainstorm about the classroom–we’re here to help.

How to Talk About the Election Process with Kids 

It’s an election year, which means kids might be curious about the political buzz. In this Parent Herald article, Voki team member Christy Bazemore discusses how to tackle controversial election news by integrating digital tools like Voki to make the conversation fun.

The Voki for Ed App

With apps galore available for the classroom, we know it’s hard to choose the winner from the bunch. Good news though:  our Voki for Ed app has been met with raving reviews from teachers, making the decision process a little easier. Download our app today in the iOS store to see what everyone is talking about!*
*Android version due out later this month

Have you stopped by lately?

If you haven’t, you might want to pay it a visit. Our new enhancements and capabilites provide the best Voki experience yet! Better design, easy-to-share, mobile compatible…you might not recognize the new Voki, but you’ll definitely remember it!

Get Your Voki School License!

Why not get your whole school tech-equipped for the upcoming year? We offer school licenses so every teacher can get in on the Voki action! You may email school license requests to


We have a special promotion going on right now! Simply email with #vokipromo in the subject line to get a free, 3 month subscription for whatever Level you’d like!  We’ll send you a form so you can indicate your level preferences.*
*For  first time account holders only

Interested in becoming a Voki ambassador?

Let us know! Voki ambassadors help spread the Voki love in and out of the classroom. They share Voki-related posts on their social media pages and contribute to the Offical Voki Blog. They’re the first to know what’s happening at the Voki headquarters and receive a free annual, Level 3 subscription. Email us if you’re interested in joining!

Has Voki had a positive impact on you student’s life?

If so, we would love to hear about it and inspire others! Please email and share your story with us. If your story is featured, we will provide your classroom with a free, one-year Level 3 subscription valued at $100.
Stay cool, Voki fans!
Catherine Alvino, Digital Marketing Coordinator
Voki Is Better Than Ever!

Voki Is Better Than Ever!

…Even tech companies make technical errors. Our apologies to anyone who received multiple emails last week.  We’re back on track- here’s your access pass to the latest news at Voki:

My Mom: The Teacher Who is Ready for School

Consider yourself in good company if the back-to-school blues is the opposite of what you’re feeling. Our feature blog showcases a teacher who is ready for September, routine, and her preschool kiddies.

International Day of Friendship

There’s a day for everything!…which means we’ve got a hook for just about everything too. This writing activity on friendship is the perfect way to practice topic sentence formation with supporting details. Create a Voki e-card at the end of the exercise to recite your sentiments.

Voki 2.2: The Back-to-School Essential

You can’t beat our latest Voki Teach library coming your way just in time for the new school year. Our CC-aligned, peer-rated lessons, hooks, and tech projects will be fully available on to boost engagement and student voice in your classroom. Additionally, Level 3 subscribers will be able to copy lessons to their accounts and customize as they wish. Did we mention new content will roll out on a weekly basis for grades K-5?

The Voki for Ed App is Coming Soon to Android

iOS users have been applauding our Voki for Ed app since its launch in April. But we haven’t forgotten about our droid devotees! The Android version of the app is due out later this month. Join the fun and create a Voki, add a voice, and share it on social media or through email. If you haven’t experienced the iOS app yet, download it here.

Has Voki Had a Positive Impact on Your Student’s Life?

If so, we would love to hear about it and inspire others! Please and share your story with us. If your story is featured, we will provide your classroom with a free, one-year level 3 subscription valued at $100.


Remember to visit to check out our selection of over 250 characters and 30 languages to choose from! Why not brighten someone’s day with a Voki avatar message of your own? Just an idea…


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My Mom: The Teacher Who is Ready for School

My Mom: The Teacher Who is Ready for School


“Did my class list come yet?”

Like clockwork, my mother clambers for an answer to this question (or maybe plea) come this time of summer every year. It’s not the first hint of classroom nostalgia though—she’s collected kiddie table sets, kitchen play things, and even a toy house that she planted in the corner of our yard (it’s for the grandkids, Cathy—when they’re born). She even confessed the other day, while at the beach, “I’m ready for September; I’m ready for routine again.”

My mother is a devoted preschool teacher, but undoubtedly summer is her favorite season. The absence of red tape on her time gives her leisure to do what she pleases—which is a lot of reading, antique shopping, and soaking up the sun.

This past weekend, my mom shared back-to-school memories, but this time from the perspective of parent. “I would say, ‘Mike, can you come here?,’ and give him a stack of textbooks and notebooks to cover with contact paper [for all his siblings].” She recalled, “And I hated going to the auditorium for the uniform fittings!” She remembered buying tissue boxes for each of her four children to bring in for the class on the first day, and the Scholastic forms teachers gave out seemingly right away to be completed. Thoughts of bringing her brood school supply shopping threw her into a tizzy at the time.

But her biological children having grown up, it’s the kids she teaches that make her welcome the school year. It’s why she keeps an eye out on the mail, and why she keeps her class in mind on her thrift store hunts. Just like sunshine boosts her with Vitamin D, her tiny tots similarly provide her with a daily dose of joy.

Mentally preparing yourself for the school year isn’t surrendering the summer; it’s simply embracing the return of what you love.

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Catherine Alvino is the Digital Marketing Coordinator at Oddcast. She holds a BA in English Literature and a MBA with a concentration in Marketing. She loves to write and is proud to work for a company that adds value to learning.

How Voki Adds Character to Book Talks and Book Trailers

How Voki Adds Character to Book Talks and Book Trailers


I am a technology integration specialist for my school system, but before I held this position, I was a high school librarian.  As a librarian, I was fortunate enough to have high school students as library aides, and one of the duties I assigned them was to do book talks about books in the library.  Another favorite activity was creating book trailers, which consisted of a two- or three-minute video designed to spark interest in the book, much like a movie trailer.  Well, you can imagine our excitement when we discovered Voki!  

Using Voki made our book talks and book trailers come to life, literally!  Students were able to pick their own unique background, or even upload their own picture, to depict a scene from the book.  Some students chose to pick a more nonspecific background, but the background was always tied to the avatar.  If the students were illustrating a scene from the book, they would try to find an avatar to match their idea of what the main character looked like!  I loved watching one student try to come up with the perfect avatar for Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games. Mind you, this was before the Hunger Games film franchise burst onto the scene, so my student was able to truly use her imagination and the words from the book to create her very own Katniss.  Students also enjoyed taking the avatar for a known personality, such as Mrs. Claus, and tweaking her hair, face, and clothing to make into someone else entirely, such as Grandma Dowdel from A Year Down Yonder.  

When it came time to insert the dialogue, students loved the choices they had with Voki. Some liked browsing the plethora of accents and genders among the voice choices to find just the right combination for their particular character.  Still others liked the option of using their own voice.  Even with this option, students can play with the speed and timbre of their recorded voice until even their own best friend would not recognize who it was!

With its seemingly endless customization features, Voki allows our students to reach that highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy: creation!  When you let your students use Voki, the only limit is their imagination!



Carol works for the Lauderdale County Board of Education in Florence, Alabama, as a technology integration specialist.  Before moving to the district office, she served as an English and Drama teacher, then the librarian at Wilson High School in Lauderdale County.

National Hot Dog Day, Kindergarten Math, and More

National Hot Dog Day, Kindergarten Math, and More


 “I’d rather hear it from an avatar.”

Who’s with us? We know the millions of teachers who use Voki worldwide can agree, but we’ll speak for ourselves—avatar technology rocks. No doubt about it, a new chapter of teaching and learning is making an indelible mark in the classroom—and Voki is helping write the story. Read on to learn our ed tech developments—it’s a page (er, paragraph?) turner.

Character Analysis Meets the Techie Teacher’s World

ELA was never so animated. This four-step lesson plan—story selection, graphic organizer completion, written reflection, and Voki creation—will get your students analyzing character development on a whole other level.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Avatars Teach Kids About Democracy

Bring current affairs discussion into the classroom using the Voki Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton avatars. It’s never too early to teach the merits of democracy.

Kindergarten Math: Shapes and their Characteristics

Can you classify a shape without using its proper name? Learn how to use your observe and describe skills in this all-new Voki Teach lesson for your kindergarten kiddies. Geometric vocabulary, including ‘side,’ ‘corner,’ and ‘curve,’ is discussed.

National Hot Dog Day is July 23!

You don’t have to tell us twice. In this hook activity, lend your ear to our Voki hot dog avatar and support his cause—post a picture of a frank on July 23 with hashtag #NationalHotDogDay!

Voki 2.2 Coming Soon

Did you like the above hook activity? Well, there’s good news for more than just our frankfurter fans: our Voki 2.2 edition is due out later this summer. What does this mean for you? More time, less search. Voki Teach will now house all Common-Core aligned lessons, hook activities, and tech projects organized by subject area and grade level and with the same layout as our favorite video resource, Youtube. Share links to these resources, and Level 3 users, edit lessons and hooks to your liking.

The Voki App is Now Available in the iOS App Store

Create Voki avatars at your fingertips with our Voki app. It’s the perfect tool for students to work on projects and assignments. Download it here.

Tune in for Live Coverage of the School Technology Summit, NYC

Voki is attending the Department of Education School Technology Summit on July 27! Catch live updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages to get the scoop on ed tech news from inside the event.

Has Voki had a positive impact on your student’s life?

If so, we would love to hear about it and inspire others! Please email and share your story with us. If your story is featured, we will provide your classroom with a free, one-year level 3 subscription valued at $100.

Stay cool, Voki fans!


Catherine Alvino, Digital Marketing Coordinator