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.

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Voki Guest Blogger: Heather Loomis

Voki Guest Blogger: Heather Loomis

1Kindergarten has been using the library to research land forms.

Each class researched a different land form.  I love to use KWL Charts with young researchers.  We started with a group brainstorm session listing what we Knew about the land form.  Then we discussed what we Wanted to know.  The students came up with some great questions.

We then researched using websites, library books, and the Pebblego Database, which we found to be very helpful. We met back up for a group discussion about interesting facts we Learned during our research.  We kept track of all of our great facts using a flip chart on the Promethean board.

We used Voki to report on our findings.  After choosing a background and a character head relating to our land form, we had another class discussion about the most important research findings that the students wanted to share.

River Research

Lake Research

Ocean Research

We had fun with this activity, and I was very impressed with the curiosity and enthusiasm for research the Kindergarten students exhibited.  The also loved the Voki program.  It is always a hit!

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Follow Heather on Twitter: @LoomisLibarian

Visit her blog: http://oldunionlibrary.blogspot.com/ 

Guest Blogger: Using Voki to Support Learning by Craig Kemp

Guest Blogger: Using Voki to Support Learning by Craig Kemp

My name is Craig Kemp and I am Head of ICT & Learning Innovation at Avondale Grammar School in Singapore. I am an experienced New Zealand educator with a passion for Student Voice and Global ‘Connectedness’.

Being a globally connected educator means that you use tools to support the learning of your students on a global scale. In the 21st Century Learning Environments we work in, our job as educators is to support the learning journey of the digital natives in our care. Digital natives are engaged more actively now than ever before, through the use of technology on handheld and personal devices. This natural instinct to utilise technology on every occasion to support their learning makes it essential that educators are up to speed with how and why students use their devices.

Voki is a tool that I have used and still do use every week to support learning in my classroom and around my school. Voki is a free online tool that helps engage and connect learners anywhere and at anytime. I have seen it successfully used with new language learners and as an extension tool to support those students needing another vehicle to present their learning.

The good thing about Voki’s is that it is a flexible program and can be used across the curriculum and for many different purposes.

I have started to get hooked into creating a flipped classroom, as the current trends in education would suggest we should be. Voki is becoming a tool I am using to break up my lessons and add a bit of spice. It is exciting for the students to have variety.

Voki has become a tool in my school to encourage student voice. Often, in our classrooms, we have students that dominate conversation. It is hard to get true voice from shy students who are not strong at verbally express ing themselves. Voki has become a tool to share learning experiences or knowledge for those students so everyone is on a level playing field. I highly recommend giving this a go in your classroom.

In my classroom, students get the choice of how to present. Voki is one of many tools that students use on a regular basis to present their learning, either as a whole or as a part of their presentation.

I love Voki because it is easily embeddable into blogs or Wikispaces and is easy to use and very much student driven.

I highly recommend giving it a go today and sharing your learning amongst your teaching community.

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If you missed his post on how to use Voki, check it out here.

Follow Craig on Twitter: @mrkempnz

Website: http://mrkempnz.com/

Guest Blogger: Kyle Dunbar

Guest Blogger: Kyle Dunbar

me-smallI still remember the first time I was introduced to Voki, I was at a tech conference. The presenter was showing a number of different fun, new, tools, but Voki stole the day. Honestly, I can’t remember the next 20 minutes of the presentation because I was so busy having fun playing with Voki, recording myself, giving myself new outfits, sending emails back to my boss saying things like “Vokis are so much fun!” I was immersed in learning the new tool and practicing my digital literacy and fluency. It is the same for our students.

Voki opens up a world of hands-on creativity for your students.

Show any classroom of students Voki, and you will immediately see them trying it out in a myriad of ways. I had the pleasure of joining a student tech club after school one day and I did a quick demo of Voki. The teacher and I had a plan that they would use their Vokis to introduce themselves to me (a visitor for the day) and then we would share what each student did. It was a nice plan, and the students would have done it. But we quickly realized, we had set the bar way too low, these kids had more ideas about what they wanted to do!

Voki lets you have your Voki speak in several languages.

Some students immediately started playing with the language feature of Voki. While this tech club is in a richly diverse school, where many languages are heard every day, these students still had a great time listening to phrases spoken in languages they had never heard before.

Voki allows you to re-record until you like how it sounds.

Some students probably practiced what they wanted to say 5-7 times before they saved their Voki. This repeated practice is fantastic for English Language Learners and other students working on their oral language skills. Asking a student to re-read passages can be tiresome, but ask them to make a Voki and they will repeat the passage until they like how it sounds, over and over again.

Voki lets students play around with identity.

 Let’s face it, not all students are pleased with their self-image. I’ve seen students change their avatar dozens of times to find a “look” that they want to project. Don’t overlook the importance of this! As students travel the weary path of adolescence and pre-adolescence, they crave opportunities to try on different looks and personas. Using Voki to do this is a safe and fun way to change your hair color, add an earring or see how a British accent sounds. Letting students play with these avatars as they complete a content-based assignment is as developmentally appropriate as free play in Kindergarten.

Voki is a great way to discuss Digital Citizenship.

Our students might not need our guidance when it comes to figuring out how to make a Voki, but they do still need our guidance about what makes a good and appropriate Voki. Voki is a fun way to get students talking about what make a quality presentation. If the assignment is to have an Abraham Lincoln Voki talk about three of the most important parts of his presidency, showing him with sunglasses on isn’t the best way to convey your message. Likewise, students should never use Voki to share too much information about themselves or to embarrass others. It is imperative that we have these conversations with students and why not do it with a tool they love!

Voki can be used in any classroom:

Science: Make a Voki to explain the outcomes of a lab. (I’ve seen students do this for their Science Fair presentations!)

Social Studies: Choose a Voki of an historical figure and have them give three important facts about their lives.

English: Make a Voki that represents a character from a novel. Have them “saying” the theme of the novel.

Math: There is a lot of vocabulary in Math. Have a Voki provide definitions for key terms.

World Language: Provide a description of a person in the target language, see if the students can make a matching Voki.

Physical Education/Health: Let a Voki give facts about staying fit and healthy.

To get the most out of Vokis, make sure you give your students time to play when making their Vokis, you’ll be surprised with the results!

-Kyle Dunbar

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For Kyle’s blog, go here: EdTechDunny

Follow Kyle on Twitter: @edtechdunny

Guest Blogger: Sonya terBorg

Guest Blogger: Sonya terBorg

In our previous unit under the theme How We Express Ourselves my students were asked to create a Voki avatar to persuade people to send their kids kids to our school – essentially answering the question “Why Riverstone?” from their perspective. We had used Voki in the past, and I wanted to revisit it in a more formal (rather than optional) way to really see if this was something worthwhile to do.

My class has Voki Classroom accounts. This is different to the regular, free version of Voki. What it does differently, is that it allows you access to your kids work prior to publishing. As the teacher, you set the assignment and send this to each child’s account. They log in (with usernames and passwords that you have access to) and click on the appropriate task, read the instructions and carry out the assignment. When they are finished, they submit it to you for review. You can ‘approve’ it or send it back to them to work on it some more.
Here are what I consider the key strengths of Voki:

  • you get an oral presentation without the pressure of performing live in front of an audience. Yes, I know performing live is valuable, but so is hearing people applaud your clear, confident, expressive speech that normally may have been muffled and quiet and spoken into your armpit.
  • some kids will knock your socks off! I was crazy impressed with the majority of the Voki’s that were produced for this assignment and some kids really stood out from the rest – and not necessarily the kids you would expect either. I love that.
  • it is really intuitive. We had used it before but even then, all it took was one class lesson on the Smartboard and they were off. There were a few glitches along the way but that was my doing – not Voki’s or my kids!

Which leads me to my recommendations:

  • make sure you set the assignment up first! I know, this seems simple, but in all the organizing, actually sending out the last assignment to their accounts was missed off my to-do list. Major bummer.
  • keep a printed list of usernames and passwords – they are easy to remember but we use a lot of sites and so having them handy is a must so those who forget can quickly access them
  • start with some fun, non-assessed assignments – let them play with Voki! I started with a book review from a character’s perspective and each child introducing themselves.

Prior to beginning the assignment, I shared the following with my class. Click on the image to enlarge. Click to download a PDF version.

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After you have approved their work, it is very easy to embed the finished Voki in your blog. I have found in the past that there are many embedding codes that don’t work with WordPress (the blogging platform we use at school) but Voki is not one of them. At the conclusion of the assignment I was able to easily export the Voki’s to our class website to share with the students and their families. Here are a couple of examples of our Voki’s:



When they were uploaded, each student was tasked with drawing five names from a hat, finding that Voki online, and reviewing their work using the following form. The grid of persuasive strategies is from the awesome website, ReadWriteThink.

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In addition to this personalized, specific feedback, we watched all the Voki’s as a class and rated them ‘live’ using the online student response tool: Socrative. If you have not used Socrative before, please check it out! It is really cool – and as the byline says, “as easy as raising your hand”. Once you set up a teacher account, students log on with any device and plug in your ‘room number’. You control the pace of the questions or allow them to go at their own pace. As they answer your questions, their responses show up live on screen. We watched each Voki together and then rated them on persuasive effectiveness on a scale of 1-5. Check this video out for further information:


Socrative introduction video (new) from Socrative Inc. on Vimeo.

In Summary:

I would highly recommend the use of Voki in your classroom. I like the education version, Voki Classroom, mostly because of it’s editing/reviewing options and because your recordings can be up to 90 seconds (as opposed to 60 seconds in the free version). It is easy to see where each student is at on the project and feedback can be delivered instantly to them from your account to theirs. I love that you can embed the finished Voki’s and the quality of both the avatar and the voice options are excellent. In addition to the stock backgrounds, you can also upload your own images = the first Voki featured in this post actually has a photo of the front of our school as the background. This feature allows you to incorporate aspects of visual language into your curriculum by challenging students to come up with the most appropriate look to their Voki that suits their message.

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For Sonya’s blog, go here.

Follow Sonya on Twitter: @terSonya

Guest Blogger: Carmen Brettel – How to Use Voki in the Classroom

Guest Blogger: Carmen Brettel – How to Use Voki in the Classroom

Voki speaking avatars are great tools for the classroom. Teachers and students alike can create avatars and use them in a number of ways to make learning fun and more accessible. Not sure how Voki can help you or your students? Here are a few fun ideas for how you can incorporate Voki speaking avatars in your classroom and lesson plans:

Use Your Avatar as a “Substitute”

Students can start to zone out in the middle of lectures, and the teacher’s voice can start to sound like the “mwah mwah mwah” in a Charlie Brown cartoon. Introducing an avatar for some lessons can get students’ attention and make it a little more fun.

Choose a quirky and interesting avatar — not just one that looks like you. Use it for particularly dry discussions and incorporate it into an interactive presentation. Students will feel like they’re watching a show — and they’ll be learning at the same time.

Get Students to Create Interactive Avatars

Every teacher knows that encouraging student participation can be a bit like pulling teeth at times. Encouraging students to create their own interactive avatars may help them to participate more, both by offering them a fun outlet for it, and by offering shy students a way to participate that doesn’t require being so “exposed.”

You can create a virtual interactive classroom if you have access to a computer lab, or you can use the avatars in online discussions through a classroom blog or website. Explore which options work best for you based on your resources.

Assign a Virtual Presentation

Old-fashioned book reports and project presentations can be dull for both the presenter and the audience. Students standing next to a tri-fold project board and reading off note cards are not likely to have a good time, and neither are their peers who have to listen to it.

You can make it a little more fun for all students by asking them to create virtual presentations that are created with a Voki speaking avatar and a powerpoint or other presentation. The avatar can guide the presentation, which students will have fun creating (with a little more creative latitude) and their peers will have fun listening to, helping both to learn more.

Create Avatars Based on Lessons

Help bring historical and literary figures to life by asking students to create a speaking avatar for them. Not only will students have to create an avatar in that person’s likeness — and may have to imagine it based on cues for literary figures — but they can also create dialogue for the characters for a presentation or report.

Such an assignment will help students better understand the figures they are studying in class, and it will help them to have more fun while they’re doing it.

There are many more ways you can use Voki speaking avatars in your classroom to help promote learning and greater interaction. You are only limited by your creativity.

How have you used Voki speaking avatars in your classroom? Share your tips in the comments!

Carmen Brettel is a writer and manager for Studentgrants.org. In her spare time, Carmen enjoys gardening and volunteering at animal shelters.

Guest Blogger: Give Kids a Voice with Voki by Susan Stephenson

Guest Blogger: Give Kids a Voice with Voki by Susan Stephenson

SusanI love what Voki offers kids! Often in the classroom or in home school we focus on the key skills of reading and writing to such an extent that we neglect other communication skills. Speaking confidently and competently is a skill that helps not just in school, but in real life. Give an employer a choice between someone who mumbles and rambles, and another person who speaks clearly and concisely. I think we can guess which candidate they will choose.

Voki gives children an engaging format for speaking. The range of cute avatars available is motivating for kids, allowing them to choose one to suit their purpose. Voki also gives kids a voice. Whether they are creating a short speech to introduce themselves on a class blog, or giving an opinion about their favourite video game, kids are involved in creative and critical thinking as they choose the best words and delivery style for their purpose.

We want older kids to develop real writing skills. Part of that with narrative writing is to develop strong characters for a story. The Voki avatars can suggest a character, and students can speak like that character, trying to think their way into the character and look at life from its perspective.

In a literature lesson, students can use Voki to give a book report, or brief opinion of a book they’ve read. By listening to others’ Vokis, kids are not only experiencing different ways of delivering a presentation, but also perhaps learning about new and exciting books to read.

For children in younger grades, Voki gives them a way to practise reading fluency and writing. By adopting “voices” for the different avatars, and reading aloud scripts they’ve written earlier, kids have a purpose for both reading and writing that is truly engaging.

There are many ways to create avatars. Voki offers more than the usual avatar because children can record themselves and speak through the character they choose. Adding the dimension of audio to an  avatar makes it a talking character, opening up lots of learning possibilities for children at home and at school. Voki really does give children a voice!

Find many more ideas from teachers currently using Voki on the Voki blog.

BIO: Susan Stephenson is an Australian writer, teacher and book reviewer. She blogs at The Book Chook (www.thebookchook.com). Teachers and parents from all over the world visit The Book Chook to find tips on encouraging kids to read, write and communicate, and ideas for incorporating children’s literature and learning into everyday life. Susan also offers free PDF booklets of learning activities at her personal website, www.susanstephenson.com.au