The Thanksgiving Edition

The Thanksgiving Edition

Welcome to Voki’s Thanksgiving Resources blog post!

As the holidays approach, you  and your students are nearing burnout and are ready for a much needed break. Holiday trips are being planned, Thanksgiving Menus are being tested, and some are preparing for travel to distant places to see loved ones. Minds are elsewhere and you and your students are trying to get up enough energy to drag yourselves across that finish line. The struggle is real.

Our goal, as always, is to provide you with the  resources and support that will make teaching just a little bit easier and a lot more engaging especially during this last sprint before the holidays.

That is why we’ve compiled a list of Thanksgiving resources. If we can give you one last thing to do and send you off to your loved ones feeling excited about that last lesson you taught (despite first term exhaustion) then we’re doing our jobs right.

Let’s get started!

Here are a few Thanksgiving activities created with our very own Voki Presenter!

Thanksgiving Writing Fun!

Lesson about Gratitude

All About Thanksgiving

You can also always check out more of our Thanksgiving characters here.

Read Alouds

Here are a few Thanksgiving Read Alouds told from new and untold perspectives.

Click the “Read Aloud” link for more Thanksgiving Read Alouds to explore!

Click on each read aloud title to hear each read aloud.

Squanto’s Journey

 

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

Giving Thanks: A Native American Morning Message

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving

Fry Bread

Duck For Turkey Day 

Rivka’s First Thanksgiving

 

Classroom Activities

Classroom Ideas 3rd-6th grade

Classroom Ideas for 4th-8th Grade

 

 

 

6th-12th Grade Classroom Activity A

6th -12th Grade Classroom Activity B

 

We hope that you can find at least one lesson here that you can modify and use in your classrooms.

Have a joyful and restful Thanksgiving!

 

Until Next Time,

The Voki Team

 

 

 

 

 

7 Ways Technology is Improving Education

7 Ways Technology is Improving Education

Over the years, technology has shown the potential to improve various sectors in society—and education is one of them. Teaching and learning are becoming a more interactive practice than what was the case a few decades ago. The need for tech literate individuals has also encouraged many schools to incorporate technology into their curricula. Various schools are converting their classrooms into tech hubs.

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However, unless we are ready to appreciate and make use of technology in the classroom, its potential cannot be fully realized. Prudent measures should be put in place to ensure that education is sufficiently promoted by using technology. This article discusses the top seven ways technology is improving education today.

1. Enhanced teaching

There are concepts in class that are well taught through illustration rather than mere theory. For instance, explaining the effect temperature has on molecules can be a little ambiguous, but thanks to digital simulators, such concepts are well understood by the student. Teaching using models is an effective way of illustrating significant changes in processes while ensuring that the students remember the idea for a long time.

Teaching is never complete without assessment. With the help of technology, testing the level of students’ understanding of a learned concept is done in real time. The teacher can use this information to help weaker students and move to the next topic after being satisfied that all the students are on the same page.

2. Improved communication

Education is founded on the effectiveness of communication among students and teachers. This way, flow of knowledge is enhanced at every level. The classroom has been made into a community where teachers quickly post assignments, and the students can ask questions for verifications. Moreover, they can communicate with peers on different relevant matters.

There are sites that allow a student to learn a particular language with native speakers. This is done through video conferencing. Other platforms that enable students from different countries to exchange notes and ideas are also available on the net.

3. Use of interactive textbooks

Gone are the days when a textbook was only using texts and images to present information. Technology has introduced the use of digital and interactive books with audio and video capabilities for enhanced reading. Using videos and animations while studying has been proven to be one of the best methods of grasping a new concept. Technology has allowed highlighting various ideas, setting reminders, and making improvements to the information in textbooks. This enables students to understand everything better.

Students no longer have to carry big textbooks around in their quest for learning. A student can now have multiple digital books on one device and compare the notes with a simple tap. Convenience in learning is taken to a completely new level.

4. Advanced Research

The use of the cloud to store information has allowed web-based research to become more efficient. Unlike before when one would have to sort through massive piles of books to find the desired pages, technology comes with efficient searching tools. You will agree that a lot of time is saved with technology that is used in internalizing the new information and ideas learned.

The ability to compare research results by researchers worldwide has made it possible for enhanced results and quicker acquisition of solutions. This is one of the most obvious advantages of technology in students’ life.

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5. Students can learn at their pace

It is true that different students have different abilities to grasp a concept. While others are quick learners, some are significantly slow learners. This has made it difficult for slow learners to cope with their peers in class. This is something that technology has come to change.

Such students can now go over learned concepts at their convenience and have time to consult their teachers privately for a deeper understanding.

6. Learning is more fun

The use of new technology has made students enjoy their studying more than ever. Keeping a student engaged in learning is also crucial in improving the retention rate of new concepts learned. Laptops and tablets used in class make a seemingly boring subject more enjoyable. Where a subject is not entirely understood, a student can find a live streaming video online for better understanding and a different approach to an idea.

7. Examination has gone online

Taking tests has never been more convenient. Many people are choosing to take online courses at their convenience and later sit online exams with accreditation. These examinations seem to be the main thing of the future. Everything is done in real time. For teachers, recording the scores of students and grading them is now done at great convenience. Furthermore, a teacher can identify students’ weak spots and make the necessary improvements for a better personal approach.

Ranking of different students from different schools is also made easy with technology. Additionally, taking international examinations online is becoming more and more common.

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It will be improper to end this article without mentioning what technology has done for students with special needs. On different devices, such as the iPad, students with special needs such as the autism spectrum have been given a chance to learn with convenience. Powerful studying tools enable them to study like other students and have the same opportunities in the job market. Students from less advanced countries who have access to technology are also given a platform to display their talents.

It is only fair to say that technology has a lot to offer when integrated in education. The advantages of new technology in classrooms cannot be overrated. One thing is certain, though; teachers will always have control over educational process even with the use of the best technology.

About the Author:

Crystal Roman is a blogger and freelance writer for Edubirdie. Her lifestyle credo is “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

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!

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!

vipula sharma

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.

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.

Quick and Easy Ways to Use Technology in Classroom

Quick and Easy Ways to Use Technology in Classroom

student-with-ipad-technology-in-the-classroom1If you’re one of those teachers who want to challenge yourself this school year, you may want to start using technology in class. Technology can help improve student involvement and a great way to keep them engaged. So we put together some quick and easy way that you can start using technology in class!

Create a class website

One of the benefits of a creating a website is the increased communication between you, students and parents. A class website can be anything from an online bulletin board to a class blog with class materials. If you want to start building your own class website, here is a list of platforms that you may want to try out.

Create a class game using PowerPoint

Many teachers use PowerPoint to create fun review games based on famous game shows, like “Jeopardy!” And “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” It is up to you to be creative. Not only does it get your students excited about reviews, it can help them figure out what they need to study! Here are some templates that you can use for these games: PowerPoint Games and PowerPoint Review Games Template.

Use social media

If you’re more tech-savvy, you can create a class Twitter account or class Instagram account. Many teachers are leveraging these tools to be more involved with their students and their parents. Check out some of the ways you can use Twitter and Instagram.

No matter how you plan to use technology in class, always remember to have fun!

Until next time,

Eva D.

The Voki Team

1560505_10152516453053764_8553617582835278394_nBio: Eva is the Community Manager for Voki and is part of the Marketing Team at Oddcast. She enjoys playing the piano and knitting on her free time. (She’s also a Rubik’s cube master!) She loves to hear your feedback and comments for Voki!

Ways to use Twitter in Class

Ways to use Twitter in Class

2a1c1d8If you use Twitter in class, raise your hand! Last week, we have a post on the ways to engage students with technology and one of the ways is to use Twitter in class. So today, we will be expanding this topic a little more!

As you know, many educators found innovative ways to use Twitter with their students. For those you use it, it is a very useful (and powerful) tool. If you don’t use it, here are some ways that you can use Twitter in class.

 Twitter discussions after class.

Do you ever feel like there’s not enough hours in a day to teach a lesson? The lesson doesn’t have to end just because class is over. You can hold Twitter discussions online with your students. Tweet out discussions questions and encourage your students to participate!

Class announcements on Twitter.

Quiz next Monday? Class trip to the local art museum is cancelled? Or to remind them that school is closed on Wednesday? Twitter is the perfect place to make these announcements. It keeps students up-to-date with the latest classroom news. If you’re using Twitter with younger students, it can also keep parents informed about upcoming classroom events!

Share useful information.

Don’t limit your students’ knowledge with just the readings assigned for homework. If you find a relevant article or an interesting video, tweet it out to them. Or, if you find some materials that can help them clarify some topics or questions, tweet it out too! It can be articles, videos, pictures, anything!

 Practice writing skills on Twitter.

Even though Twitter offers a 140-character limit, this doesn’t mean students can’t practice their writing skills. What’s even better is that you can encourage students to write creatively while staying within the character limit. TeachThought offers some writing activities that you can use with students, which includes vocabulary building and grammar review.

We are interested in learning how you use Twitter in class! Tweet it to us @officialvoki!

Until next time,

Eva D.

The Voki Team

1560505_10152516453053764_8553617582835278394_nBio: Eva is the Community Manager for Voki and is part of the Marketing Team at Oddcast. She enjoys playing the piano and knitting on her free time. (She’s also a Rubik’s cube master!) She loves to hear your feedback and comments for Voki!

Ways to Engage Students with Technology

Ways to Engage Students with Technology

It is important to have a class structured around student involvement and helping them focus on what’s important. Technology is a great way to engage your students in class and many educators are beginning to adopt different type of technology within their classes. Let’s see how you can engage your students with technology:

Tweet it! (Using Twitter)

Many students and their parents are using Twitter on their free time. Because of this, a lot of educators have taken advantage of Twitter. What do they use Twitter for? They use it to keep their students well-informed and engaged. It also allowed educators to communicate important information with parents. Since Twitter only allows messages up to 140 characters, students will have to find creative ways to get their messages across!

Some great examples of educators using Twitter is Mrs. Kilgo’s Class, who tweet out news and important announcements, and Room Eleven, which allows students to take charge of the Twitter account and tweet!

Samantha Miller, from TeachHub, came up with 50 different ways for educators to use Twitter in their classroom. Let us know which one you are planning to use!

There’s an app for that! (Using apps)

Yes, there’s definitely an app for this. There are many educational apps within the App Store and GooglePlay that you can use in class. And we definitely know the pain of trying to find the right one. So we will save you some times and have the list for you, right here:

If you’re an Apple lover, here’s 55 Education Apps to use with your students (free, of course).

If you’re an Android geek, here’s 50 Education Apps for you to use!

If you have a favorite app that you love to use in class, just share it with us!

Hey, look at me! (Using visual aids)

If you have more visual learners in your class, it might be useful for you to use videos in class. After all, approximately 65% of the population is visual learners. Visual learners are those who learn materials by seeing them with visuals like graphs, videos, diagrams, etc. So using sites, such as YouTube or PowerPoint, can help you effectively explain certain concepts and ideas to the class. (Also, it’ll keep easily-bored students entertained!)

Until next time,

Eva D.

The Voki Team

1560505_10152516453053764_8553617582835278394_nBio: Eva is the Community Manager for Voki and is part of the Marketing Team at Oddcast. She enjoys playing the piano and knitting on her free time. (She’s also a Rubik’s cube master!) She loves to hear your feedback and comments for Voki!

 

 

Overcoming Technology Obstacles in Classrooms

Overcoming Technology Obstacles in Classrooms

Welcome to the digital era, where students are no longer bound to the books and desks in their classroom.  Instead, they now have new technologies that give them the opportunity to explore the world. Clearly, technology is transforming the way students learn. Educators are now faced with a big challenge: how to keep their students engaged and stimulated in the classroom.

There are many barriers that educators face every day in seeking to integrate technology in to their classes, such as lack of support, lack of computers, and no motivation.

Overcome Your Fear of Implementing Technology

We are all accustomed to the traditional ways of teaching and learning: a lecture, face-to-face questions, and tests. We can definitely agree that implementing new technologies in class can be very frightening and it is still considered the main obstacle for technology integration in schools. Educators who are unfamiliar with technology are afraid of the learning curve. Some are skeptical that technology can help improve their teachings while some are concerned about digital footprint, privacy, and cyber-bullying.

You don’t have to jump straight into using SMART boards or expect all your students to have a tablet. Start off by using something you already know! Which take us to our next point…

Keep it Simple

Like we said before, you don’t need to start off with some high-techie lesson! Comfortable with using PowerPoint? Using Google Docs with other teachers?  We are sure that you are already using some form of technology in class (like Voki)! Just start off with something that you are familiar (and comfortable) with and explore different technologies on your free time!

Use the Tools You Already Have

Have only five computers in class? Need to sign up for the computer lab? Some schools have a limited access to computers. But don’t worry, there are ways to overcome this issue. Have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) day in class! Or place them in group to help them learn about teamwork.

As an extra point:

Tip: Always Be Prepared!

There will ALWAYS be something wrong with the lesson that day. The school internet doesn’t work. Another class took the computer lab. The software “decided” to not function properly that day. Or maybe a major power outage in the area. (You might never know! It’s always a possibility!) So it’s up to you to always be prepared for anything that might happen during that lesson and always have a backup plan!

Until next time,

Eva D.

The Voki Team

1560505_10152516453053764_8553617582835278394_nBio: Eva is the Community Manager for Voki and is part of the Marketing Team at Oddcast. She enjoys playing the piano and knitting on her free time. (She’s also a Rubik’s cube master!) She loves to hear your feedback and comments for Voki!

 

What is a Flipped Classroom?

What is a Flipped Classroom?

imagesMore and more educators are experimenting with flipped classroom. In a traditional classroom setting, the teacher gives a lecture and assigns reading materials and homework questions. Students are required to take notes and they follow instructions given by teachers.

But within a flipped classroom, the lectures and assignments are reversed. This means that lectures/class materials are viewed by students at home before the class and the class-time is devoted to different exercise, hands-on projects and/or discussions. Students can learn at their own pace and receive support from peers and teacher. With a flipped classroom, teachers can be more involved with student learning and provide support to students who need extra practice.

What happens if you’re a first time flipper? The Journal has some very nice tips that you should pay attention to when starting your first flipped class. Some tips for first time flippers are to have a set plan/strategy and start small. If you want to read the entire article, click here.

It might be difficult to try and change your class into a flipped class. Here at Voki, we suggest that you start off small. We are sure that you are already using some form of technology in class (like Voki)! So start off with a technology that you are familiar with and explore different technologies on your free time!

Remember, this is a learning process for you and your students. So just sit back, learn and enjoy it! Have you tried out a flipped classroom, and how is it working out for you? Let us know in the comments below.

Until next time,

Eva D.

The Voki Team

1560505_10152516453053764_8553617582835278394_nBio: Eva is the Community Manager for Voki and is part of the Marketing Team at Oddcast. She enjoys playing the piano and knitting on her free time. (She’s also a Rubik’s cube master!) She loves to hear your feedback and comments for Voki!