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.

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.

 

 

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?

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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.

Interviews with Educators | Lisa Mims

Interviews with Educators | Lisa Mims

Welcome to another edition of Voki Interviews with Educators. This time, we have a very creative interview with Lisa Mims. Lisa created a PowerPoint interview about her use of Voki.

Some of Lisa’s goals using Voki are

  1. To engage her students in the classroom
  2. To instill a love for learning, and
  3. To integrate new technology into her classroom in order to promote critical thinking.

Check out her interview in this brief presentation!

Interview:

Links:

Check out Lisa’s blog: Diary of a Public School Teacher

Follow Lisa on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BriteEyes49

Want to be interviewed for this section? Send us a note and a link to your blog/ twitter: submit@voki.com.