Here’s How You Can Write Like a Halloween Story Champ

Here’s How You Can Write Like a Halloween Story Champ

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If there’s any time to get creative during the calendar year, it’s Halloween. Be it the costumes, the carving, or the confections, this spooky holiday is brimming with opportunity.

From Coraline to Frankenstein, and with the psychological thriller Girl on the Train hitting theaters this weekend, let’s just say there’s plenty of suspense brewing in some of our favorite books.

To be fair, not all of us think in the macabre mindset, but we can certainly all think in the imaginative one. This Halloween season, writing activities are the perfect outlet to tap into the creative voices of your students.

It’s the common rite-of-passage for critically acclaimed novels to be adapted for film. We can’t offer you a budget to get your story to the big screen, but we have something else in mind.

It just so happens that Voki is well equipped to participate in the Halloween writing process with you. Voki avatars do the job in adding animation to your ideas—not to mention social media can get them visibility.

As for characters, Voki has all your usual spooky suspects: Dracula, Frankenstein, skeleton, witch, zombie, bat, jack-o-lantern. But if you steer clear of the haunted path, then we have over 200 characters too choose from that can meet your imagination’s needs.

Teachers can prompt their students to write about anything pertaining to Halloween, but we recommend something that gets them thinking in the spirit of the holiday, something out of the ordinary.

Students can write their essay, and then create a Voki avatar(s) to narrate it. Using Voki Presenter, they can upload images, backgrounds, and links to create scenes and settings for their stories. There’s choice in how you want the story to be told. You can upload audio, type in text and have one of the Voki automated voices recite for you, or record your own voice.

We know: this is starting to sound more and more like a movie, and the students more and more like screenwriters, producers and directors.

It’s Halloween—what better time to think box office big?

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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.

 

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Featured Teacher Sheila Slawiak Transforms Her Classroom with Voki

Featured Teacher Sheila Slawiak Transforms Her Classroom with Voki

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This summer, we asked our Voki community to submit their stories on how Voki has changed their classroom experience. We’d like to share with you the story of Sheila Slawiak, our featured teacher winner, who transformed her students’ attitude, engagement level, and integrity in their work using Voki.

Last school year during Q4 I tried out Voki for the first time.  I teach inner city struggling urban middle school students at a Level 4 school and before Voki, no project impressed them!  Then I found Voki and tried it!  To my surprise, all of my students loved it (from special ed to honors); I had 100% student engagement; and I had a student focused class!  It was a huge WOW! For me and for my students.  Even my most  highly risk students produced their product using my project requirements.  Never did I hear, “this is too  much work!”

I do have to admit, I used a lesson plan from the Voki blog as an idea.  Our school requires monthly written essays that show “citing of evidence”.  I took the idea of writing a persuasive essay about the importance of healthy snacks.  I gave my students a text set of 3 articles regarding the pros and cons of healthy snacks so they could synthesize their essay.  I also told them that their audience were 5th graders so they could feel important sharing what they have learned about healthy snacks.

To my surprise, they were so involved with all the activities in order to produce a talking persuasive avatar.  For the first time, there were no moans or groans inundating the lab, or piercing eyes staring at me. For the first time, I was able to facilitate peer reviews where each student really took an interest in their partners’ work.  For the first time, each student wanted to present their findings. For the first time, each student either scored a 3 or a 4 on my rubric vs. 0-3s. And for the first time, I was rated with high evaluative scores from my principals!  We all won and I attribute these wins to Voki!  Next school year, I’ll invite parents!

Thank you Voki for being so imaginative and for not ever settling!

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Sheila is an Instructional Technology Teacher for grades 6-8. She is passionate about teaching educational technology to both her students and colleagues. Shelia has expressed this sentiment on teaching: “It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that you can encourage all students (no matter what their challenges are in learning) to express their thoughts by utilizing audio applications like Voki that allow students to imagine greatness!”

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.

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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.

5 Innovative Ways to Use Voki in the Classroom by Guest Blogger Tyler Hart!

5 Innovative Ways to Use Voki in the Classroom by Guest Blogger Tyler Hart!

5 Innovative Ways to Use Voki in the Classroom

Welcome our guest blogger for this week… Tyler Hart! Tyler is an avid user of Voki and a total techie teacher! Here are 5 innovative ways that he has used Voki in the classroom!

Voki is a great website that allows you to create speaking avatars. You can embed these Voki characters into your blog page to play later for your students or use directly from the site. Voki has also expanded their brand to make the learning experience even more engaging with Voki Classroom, Voki Presenter, and Voki Teach. While these options are amazing in their own right, the free version of Voki can be utilized in many fun ways to help engage your students. Below are five innovative ways you can use Voki in your classroom right now. If you’re  interested in other ways to integrate Voki into your lessons, check out Voki’s Lesson Plan Ideas Page!

1. Presenting on Researched Content

Having students research their own topics or content is great, but many times finding time to have them present their findings to the class can be hard. Using Voki can be a great way to post students’ research. Students can write up a script about the most important facts about their content, and record themselves reading their findings. This one was a particular favorite of mine because the partners created Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty to report the information!presenting on researched content

To see Voki in action click here —–> http://blogs.henrico.k12.va.us/trhart/voki-research

2. Content Review Center Activity

Students don’t have to be the only ones to join in on the fun. I love making Voki Characters to help students review content or to give an assessment for me. Students would listen and pause the character when needed to either comment on our blog page for answer, or they would fill out an assessment sheet to turn in. This was a great time saver since I was able to use this as a center as well!

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To see Voki in action click here —–> http://blogs.henrico.k12.va.us/trhart/content-review-activity

3. Historical Figures

Want to spice up history class when learning about historical figures? Have students identify important moments from the life of a historical figure. Using their research, have the students write a script in a first-person narrative and have them record themselves reading their scripts.

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To see Voki in action click here —–> http://blogs.henrico.k12.va.us/trhart/historical-figures

4. Mystery Voki – Who am I?

Another fun idea to use with historical figures is a Who am I game. Have students create their script about their about person in a first-person narrative style. Instead of having the students record the information saying who the person is, they read their information and end with the question, “Who am I?” This could be a great review game do use with the class.

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To see Voki in action click here —–> http://blogs.henrico.k12.va.us/trhart/mystery-voki-who-am-i

5. Autobiographies

Have your students write an autobiography about themselves. We used a simple question starter template with the students to help them with certain things about their life to write down. After filling out the information, the students wrote their paragraph story about themselves, created their Voki, and recorded themselves. The students will have a blast learning about each other!

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To see Voki in action click here —–> http://blogs.henrico.k12.va.us/trhart/autobiographies

Tyler Hart has worked and taught in elementary education for 13 yeatyler hartrs at Henrico County Public Schools in Virginia. This school year will be his second in an administrative role as a Resource Teacher at Sandston Elementary.  Previously, he was an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher for two years, and before that, he was a 3rd grade teacher. In his last year as a classroom teacher, he was honored by being nominated and selected as one of the Henrico Citizen’s Top 20 Teachers in Henrico County.

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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

Heather Joins The Team

Heather Joins The Team

Hello Voki users!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, are you with us?

BioHeather: Heather is the Community Manager for Voki and is part of the Marketing Team  at Oddcast.  Before she joined the Voki team, she was a teacher for 7 years!  She has taught  in charter, private, and public schools all across NYC. She is excited to partner with you to  engage and educate your students!