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

http://www.voki.com/presenter/playPresentation.php?id=0eb178c5581f651876fadae5a8980899

Tell a Fairy Tale Day

http://www.voki.com/presenter/playPresentation.php?id=57d2108c6efd565d5bd6b27e4c7e747a

Phases of the Moon

http://www.voki.com/presenter/playPresentation.php?id=494ad0d24e15c7da81c7ea265c7f4cb4

Pencil Day

http://www.voki.com/presenter/playPresentation.php?id=29ec8066dea8748449b852688c46ee5a

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: http://www.voki.com/teach/home

 

the goldfish and the hook

 

 

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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!

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Voki Teach: Making Lesson Planning Easier

Voki Teach: Making Lesson Planning Easier

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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.com. 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.

Character Analysis Meets the Techie Teacher’s World

Character Analysis Meets the Techie Teacher’s World

“You have to be willing to meet them where they are and take them where they need to go.”

I’m not really sure who said this to me, but it has been a statement I return to often as I attempt to guide students into the future, toward careers—some of which do not exist today.   What we do know as educators is that students will need to be able to analyze, problem solve, and communicate in increasingly diverse manners. Analyzing characters in literature provides an opportunity for students to practice those skills that they will later transfer into the workplace.

Meeting Them Where They Are

The students we meet in the classroom today have never known a world without technology. As educators we cannot ask them to power down in order to function in our classroom.  We must power up to allow them to experience a classroom that is a meaningful authentic experience or we will never get the buy in we need to move where they need to go.  One of the many ways my teaching partner and I attempt to meet them where they are is through the use of web lessons.

Taking Them Where They Need To Go

This summer, my teaching partner, Angela Drake, and I began to explore a way to improve student mastery in regard to analyzing how a character changes or responds to the plot as the story moves toward resolution.  We decided that a good starting point would be to engage students in familiar picture books and charging them with analyzing the characters as they move through the plot elements.  Together we created a web lesson that would allow students to select one of three stories to analyze.  You can find our web lesson at www.characterschange.weebly.com.

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Step One Selecting a Picture Book

The SAG Foundation offers a wonderful site called www.storylineonline.net which features popular actors reading a variety of picture books.  This allows students to engage with the story of their choosing in a new and exciting way.  Every student loves choice and Storyline Online offers something for everyone.  We selected three books which offered students an opportunity to analyze how and why a character changes as the story progresses.

story_online

Step Two The Graphic Organizer

The second tab of the web lesson provides a link to the graphic organizer we would like the students to use to gather their evidence to support their analysis of how and why the character changes.  Read Write Think offers a wonderful graphic organizer specific to our purpose.  You can find this resource and many others at www.readwritethink.org.

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This is the graphic organizer we selected from www.readwritethink.org.

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The direct link to this organizer is http://goo.gl/zCJYPo.

Step Three The Writing Plan and Google Docs

Google Drive offers a variety of tools and the best part is it’s all free to use and you are given the extra benefit of your documents, slides, forms, and spreadsheets being at your fingertips wherever you go.  Upon finishing the reading and finalizing the details in their graphic organizer, students are then instructed to create a Google Document to record their analysis of the character.  Students are expected to describe what the character is like at the beginning of the story, how they change, why they change, and then finally, a description of the character at the conclusion of the story.  They then meet with their peer editing partner to review conventions, make suggestions for revision, verify they have met the expectations of the assignment, and review the piece to make sure it makes sense to the reader.  After final revisions have taken place, students can then move on to the next step—creating a Voki to share their analysis.

google_docs

A Brief Digression

Teaching students to communicate in diverse ways is an important part of our instructional goals. Using a talking avatar of their own creation gives students the sense of choice and control they need and provides even the quietest student with a voice to share their knowledge.  In fact, Voki became my hero last year when a student who seldom spoke in class created a Voki Book Talk that left me astonished at the insight and depth of knowledge he possessed, but had been previously unable to express.  Here is that sweet book talk  http://goo.gl/CEU5PL.

 

smilie_hinkle

Step Four Creating Your Character Analysis Voki  

The final step in our web lesson instructs the student to create a Voki to share their analysis.  I’ll let my Voki avatar tell you about this step. http://goo.gl/q9xzSj

hinkle_Voki

Using the Vokis created by your students as a formative or summative assessment of the CCSS RL 6.3 standard is an excellent example of “meeting your students where they are and taking them where they need to go.”
Where to Find Me

Please join me on Twitter @cariehinkle and visit my website  at www.cariehinkle.weebly.com to hear about the latest adventures in this techie teacher’s World. Also, look for me on Instagram at carieh5 and periodically, as a featured class on EdTech Baton.

A Thank You

Special thanks to my teaching partner, Angela Drake, who is always willing to join me on any adventure.

 

Beverly Burks Shares a Few of Her Favorite *Voki* Things

Beverly Burks Shares a Few of Her Favorite *Voki* Things

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In my position as a district-level trainer, I get to experience and use Voki in a lot of different ways.

As a technology trainer, I use Voki to add interest to my presentations.

Vokis are great because my audience gets to experience different personas when I present, not just me.

I also create and demonstrate Voki to teachers to use in the classroom. I encourage teachers to create and have their students create Vokis that go with a variety of subject areas.

For ELA, my Gramma Eula Voki is a Voki where Gramma Eula speaks about her “Chicken Sunday” character.

For Social Studies, a Voki was created to tell about the Alamo.

We use Vokis in math to demonstrate and explain math problems.

Each one of the Vokis created for “Chicken Sunday”, The Alamo and the math demo contained corresponding lesson suggestions. If you are a Promethean ActivInspire user, you can download the flipchart with the lesson idea here. https://goo.gl/JEQNNH (the giveaway on this flipchart is over).

Here’s a static copy of the flipchart in PDF form. https://goo.gl/JdkkT8

The uses for Voki are limitless. My last newsletter for this school year was pretty much devoted to Voki.

http://beverlyedtech.weebly.com/uploads/1/1/0/5/11052784/may_newsletter_beverlyedtech.pdf

I believe the introduction of the Voki app is only going to make Voki more popular. Being able to create Vokis on mobile devices is a big step forward. I am looking forward to diving deeper into Voki Presenter so that I can share those features with our teachers next school year.

When the school year starts back up, I am thinking that will be a good time to have a create a “Back to School” Voki challenge.

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Beverly is a district level technology trainer with the Fort Worth Independent School District in Fort Worth, TX. She has an undergrad degree in Education from Western Michigan University and a Masters of Technology and Cognition from the University of North Texas. Beverly is a longtime Voki user and is very excited to be a Voki Ambassador.

Your Mid-July Catch Up on the Classroom

Your Mid-July Catch Up on the Classroom

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Here at Voki, school is on our minds even in the dog days of summer. That’s why we continue to create lessons and hooks and to improve our products so you can use them without breaking a sweat (we’ll leave that one up to the sun). Teachers, we hope you’re basking in the glory of summer break, but we got you covered when you’re ready to start thinking about the classroom again (no rush though).

How to Balance Staying in the Know and Enjoying Summer Vacation

Just because it’s summer, you don’t have to turn off the school sphere of your brain completely. Reading about relevant education news and potential school projects might be just the right dose you need to tap into your teacher self. Our latestblog rounds up sites that will keep you abreast of what’s new in education so you’ll be in-the-know when it’s back-to-school.  

Bastille Day is July 14!

Who can forget how the people of France stormed the Bastille for their independence? We’re putting a sweet touch on the French equivalent of America’s Independence Day by having students make a French-themed e-card in the shape of a cake. We’re betting the enthusiasm won’t be lacking for this hook activity.

EdTech 10: Gotta Catch ‘Em All

We made Getting Smart’s  Top 10 Tweet list for ed tech news. No surprise it was regarding our post on teaching politics with avatars.

“The Road to the White House” featuring Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Voki avatars

Speaking about teaching politics with avatars, have you seen our hook that brings students through the stages of the presidential election? Its nonpartisan approach covers bigger themes like democracy and government. But, we’re not going to lie, the Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton avatars are not to be missed (especially their uncanny voices).

The Voki App is now available on the iOS Appstore.

Our new app makes creating a Voki avatar easier than ever.  With a few taps of the fingertips, you can customize your own Voki avatar from a library of characters and accessories. Just like the online desktop experience, you can type your message or record your voice. Voila! Stay tuned for the Android version coming soon this summer!

Voki 2.0 is better than ever.

Our site recently went through some major upgrades. We introduced both monthly and annual subscription options, a sleeker Voki Presenter design, and easier navigation so you’re able to seamlessly share your Voki avatars with a friend, classmate, or teacher. We have an even bigger upgrade in the works—let’s just say it will make life as a teacher a lot easier.

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 feedback@voki.com 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! Hope the rest of your week is great!

Sincerely,

Catherine Alvino, Digital Marketing Coordinator

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25 W. 36th St, 5th Floor
New York New York 10018
United States
Cooling Down with Voki

Cooling Down with Voki

 

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Happy Friday!

July is officially in full swing, and let’s just say—we’re feeling it. Temps may be rising, but Voki is keeping it cool for us with its fresh content and features. Here’s how it can help you beat the heat:

Using Voki on the First Day of School, as a Reflection Tool, and to Introduce Personas. 

Voki ambassador Paul Solarz just made ice breakers a little more fun. From a spin on “Two Truths and a Lie” to a new way to teach the Oregon Trail, Paul shares his secrets on how he uses Voki in his 5th grade classroom. 

“You Get Summers Off” & Other Damaging Myths About Teaching.

We’re sure you heard some of these before, but do those who aren’t teachers know the real stats? The dismissal bell might ring at 3:30, but teachers are actually putting in an average of 53 hours per week. You might want to furnish yourself with the rest of these facts in case someone gets them wrong. 

Grade 5 Social Studies: Complex Societies

Looking for an engaging way to educate your students on the Inca, Aztec, and Mayan People? This all-new Voki Teach lesson will take you through what attributes make up these complex societies, including the technologies they introduced to civilization. 

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Vokis are now available!

It’s hard to escape the mugs of these two—but why not bring a fresh face to the table? We’re talking about our two newest additions to the Voki library—the presumptive nominees themselves. Check them out on our Instagram page and see them in avatar form! 

“The Road to the White House”

Teaching politics can be tough, so we listened to teachers’ concerns and created a non-partisan hook presentation that covers the main stages of the presidential election process and gives students the chance to host their own classroom vote. We’re keeping the media frenzy out of the classroom, and refocusing on themes like government and democracy. 

The Voki App is now available on the iOS Appstore.

Just a hunch, but we bet you’re looking for a new app to try out. We felt the same way, which is why we launched the Voki for Education app. Not only is it free, but it also streamlines the Voki experience so you can now create and share avatars from your desktop and mobile devices.

Voki 2.0 is better than ever.  

We don’t know what feature of our recently updated site we like best. It offers both monthly and annual subscription options to keep things within budget, not to mention the navigation is incredibly easy. Did we tell you Voki Presenter got a makeover too? Well it did, and the sleek design will captivate any audience. 

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 feedback@voki.com 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! Have a great weekend!

Sincerely,

Catherine Alvino, Digital Marketing Coordinator

Fun Fact: The winner of the July Fourth hot dog eating contest at the historic Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island devoured a record-breaking 70 hot dogs and buns in just 10 minutes. 

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25 W. 36th St, 5th Floor
New York New York 10018
United States
How to Balance Staying in the Know and Enjoying Summer Vacation

How to Balance Staying in the Know and Enjoying Summer Vacation

 

woman reading magazine at home

The last day of school has come and gone. You’ve filed away thoughts of curriculum, parent/teacher conferences, and grading to the deep recesses of your mind—and bolted the deadlock on them til the first day bell brings you back to reality. The looming anxiety of lesson planning has quickly siphoned out of your system like a fever that finally breaks. Despite this new-found calm that would only be felt in dreams during the school year, another sensation creeps into the picture—boredom.

We get it. The rush of excitement burns out for all of us, so the fact that you’re experiencing a roadblock of “What should I do?” three weeks into your vacation is not abnormal in the least. Our advice? Don’t remove yourself completely from the teaching mindset. Stay abreast with education news, so you’re in-the-know when it’s back-to-school. Here are some of our favorite sites to keep you comfortably in the loop, so you feel informed (but not TOO involved).

Edublogs. This free email subscription service rounds up trending, topical and resource-packed articles from around the Web. Whether you’re looking for education news, project ideas or tips on the best tech tools to use, this service saves you the search—the answers await you in your inbox in edublogs’ weekly email.

Teach 100. Call it a one-stop shop for teachers—this site curates a daily ranking of education blogs on the web so you can prioritize your reading material accordingly. Our personal favorites that always make the top of the list? MindShift and TeachThought.

Whooos Reading Blog. We’ve got to say—Whooo’s Reading is not only a great way to gamify reading, but it also publishes some very handy blog content. Topics are fun and practical, and the articles are generally written in easy-to-read list form (kinda like this). Expect to see posts ranging from a roundup of teacher memes to a roundup of techy teacher reads.

reddit. Sometimes it’s not worth the read. Reddit knows that, which is why it depends on its users to vote whether the article was a go or a no. You can search for articles by subscribing to subreddits, or categories that interest you. Feel free to browse the site, comment on posts, and give your vote. Rest assured, though, you can bank on a weekly email with reddit’s best buzzing articles.

The Official Voki Blog. Okay, shameless plug, but it won’t let you down. This blog features first-hand accounts of how teachers use Voki in the classroom. Although it includes many product-related features, the blog also appeals to the general demands of teachers—like reading material that is worth their limited time (How Teachers Can Win During Tax Season, anyone?).

Hope this reading helps balance out the freedom by putting your brains to work!

XO,

Voki

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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.