Educators in Texas Work to Improve Student Writing Skills with Voki

Educators in Texas Work to Improve Student Writing Skills with Voki

Last week, when we came across a video of students using Voki to edit their writing, we had to find out who was behind the great production, interesting lesson, and big smiles found on every student’s face. The search led us to Chase Young, a second grade teacher, and Lynda Swanner, the language arts coordinator for McKinney ISD.  Chase and Lynda are from McKinney, Texas  and have worked together to create interactive and informative environments for students to develop as confident writers. We got in touch with Chase to find out more about how he uses Voki to motivate and improve literacy and he was more than happy to share his and Lynda’s tricks of the trade. Check out the great ideas below!

Conferring with an Avatar

Teachers can use this 21st century method for proofreading when students do not read over, or are unaware of revision or editing needed in their stories. Lynda Swanner and I devised this strategy to motivate students to actively revise and edit their own writing. This strategy helps students discover what they need to revise and edit and also empowers student as writers. They become aware of their own problems in writing, and they can self-regulate the writing process. Students use this self-discovery strategy of revising and editing to privately critique their work before conferring with the teacher. Here are a few brief steps to get you started using this strategy.

1.  Students create an avatar using Voki.com. We suggest limiting the time because students and teachers could spend all day creating the perfect avatar.

2.  Students type a sentence, paragraph, or section of their stories into the Voki text box.

3.  Students listen to the speech and read along several times.

4.  Students make corrections.

Consider the following example. The student noted a lack of punctuation after conferring with an avatar.

Mr. Young:  What changes are you going to make?

Student I need more periods.

Mr. Young:  How do you know that?

Student:  …It wasn’t very good, because it went in one fast glob.

This next example shows how a student caught a spelling error from listening to the avatar.

Mr. Young:  What changes did you make?

Student:  I needed to fix some spelling errors.  I needed to spell “grabbed” correctly.

Mr. Young:  How did you know it was spelled wrong?

Student It sounded wrong.

Mr. Young:  Do you remember how the avatar said it?

Student:  “grabed” (Student uses a long a sound.)

Mr. Young:  We know that you have to do WHAT to the consonant?

Student:  Double it!

Based upon the avatar’s rendering, students were able to reflect and make changes to their work without teacher direction.

*The full chapter is currently being published by Corwin Press and will available soon in Writing Strategies for All Students in Grades 4-6: Scaffolding Independent Writing Through Differentiated Mini-Lessons.

Chase Young is a second grade teacher in McKinney, TX. He holds a MS Ed with a specialization in literacy. He is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of North Texas. He has written for the Reading Teacher and Education Review, published a book entitled Teaching Texas History through Readers Theatre, and contributed several chapters to educational books.  When he is not teaching, studying, or writing, he is wondering where his free time goes. He enjoys playing the guitar, paintball, racquetball, grilling, concerts, billiards, pools, and golf carts (not to be confused with golfing).

Lynda Swanner has been a teacher, library media specialist, and literacy staff developer. She is currently the English Language Arts and Reading Coordinator in McKinney Independent School District in McKinney, Texas.  She coordinates the curriculum, instruction, and assessments for all elementary teachers in the district.  She is also a literacy consultant for many Texas school districts.  Over the years, she has presented many workshops that integrate technology and literacy for the International Society for Technology in Education.

If you would like to share your tips and tricks on our blog, please email us at submit@voki.com. We always love to hear how Voki is being used to enhance students’ experiences in the classroom!

Voki Tip of the Week: Give your Voki a Human Voice with a Microphone

Voki Tip of the Week: Give your Voki a Human Voice with a Microphone

Are you looking to get the most human-like Voki voice possible? Why not try recording your own voice on your Voki? Recording your voice on Voki is fun and adds the dimension of hearing your (or a student’s) actual voice. Whether it will be used to practice public speaking, foreign language pronunciation, or to add a dramatic effect to an assignment, voice recording is an easy-to-use tool that can prove to be very useful for Voki lessons.

In our latest “Interview with Educators“, music teacher Lyndell Allen used a Voki voice recording to help create a fun, interactive environment in her music classes.

We have many lesson plans in the Voki Lesson Plan Database that make use of recorded voices, especially in public speaking, ESL, foreign language and arts classes. The ways of using Voki voice recordings are endless!

In order to get the most out of your voice recording experience, it is important to be prepared with the right tools. There are two ways you can record your voice. One option is to use a computer microphone (either internal or external), and the other is to use a phone. Below, we take you through the steps for using a microphone to record your voice on Voki. Get your microphones ready and your voices warmed up!

Voki Voice Recording with a Microphone

You will need:

1.  A computer

2.  A microphone that works with your computer

Steps:

1.  If your computer does not have a built in microphone, plug in your external microphone to the computer.

2.  Test to make sure the microphone is properly connected to your computer:

a.  Go to My Computer

b.  Click on Control Panel

c.  Choose Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices

d.  Click Sounds and Audio Devices

e.  Click the Voice tab

f.  Under Voice Recording, click Test Hardware

If you have trouble setting up your microphone, ask your IT administrator.

3.  Once your microphone is properly connected, you are set to use Voki voice recording.

4.  Go to http://www.voki.com and log in or go to the Create section.

5.  Design your Voki as you wish.

6.  Under the Give it a Voice section, click the microphone icon.

7.  Choose “Allow” on the screen that pops up asking for Voki permission to access your microphone.

a. Starting with the first tab: 

i. Make sure the box by “Enable Hardware Acceleration” is checked.

ii. “Allow” vhss-d.oddcast.com to access your camera and microphone.

iii. The local storage tab is set at default and should not be changed.

iv. Slide the record volume to max and check the box next to reduce echo.

8.  Close the pop-up.

9.  Prepare what you want to say and press Record.

10. When you have finished recording, press Stop.

11.  Once you are happy with your recording, press Save and Name your audio file.

You will have 60 seconds to record your voice using Voki and 90 seconds with Voki Classroom. Don’t worry if you or your students don’t get it the first time. You can always try again until you are happy with you recording!

Tip: Your saved recordings are available by clicking the Folder icon under Give it a Voice.

Go ahead and try out Voki using a microphone to record your voice! If you have any great lesson ideas that use the voice recording function, please share it with us below in a comment or email to feedback@voki.com.

Until Next Time,

The Voki Team

The Voki Favorites of 2011

The Voki Favorites of 2011

We are always impressed to see what educators and students can come up with using Voki. The year 2011 was a good one for Voki as was apparent through the emergence of class videos demonstrating Voki in action, well developed instructional videos for newbies, great lesson plans coming from all over the world, and so much more!

We decided to collect our favorite ways of using Voki here for all to see. Please browse through the list to learn more about Voki and how teachers from around the world use it to make class a virtual blast! Hopefully you will be inspired to come up with other ways to make Voki a part of your class. Below is a short list of some of our favorites but believe us, there are so many more out there!

10 Ways you can use Voki:

  1. Improve Confidence
  2. Learn Chinese
  3. Voki Introductions
  4. Interactive Instruction
  5. Break Barriers using Multiple Means of Engagement
  6. Become Digitally Literate
  7. Voki Dictation for Language Class
  8. “Pass it On” Buddy Method
  9. Update Students and Parents on Class Blogs
  10. Make Learning Exciting!

Thanks to all who made this list possible and to everyone that has made Voki a part of their classroom! We look forward to the new year and to hear back from you about the fun and innovative ways you use Voki in your lessons. Who knows? You and your students may find yourselves and your Vokis on our blog!

Happy New Year to all! May your 2012 be filled with happiness, gratitude, and new experiences!

Interviews with Educators | Kimberly Faith Hall Church

Interviews with Educators | Kimberly Faith Hall Church

Mrs. Kimberly Church is a Spanish teacher… Kimberly uses Voki in her Spanish classes, and she also teaches other  educators about the benefits of using technology (such as Voki) in the classroom. Below is an interview with Kimberly, as well as a couple of videos her and her class created about Voki. Here is Kimberly’s video on how she uses Voki in her Spanish classes. To view more of Kimberly’s class videos, visit her YouTube channel, evansspanishteacher. Below is Kimberly’s interview, as well as another Voki video about using Voki in oral tests.

Q: So, Kimberly, why do you use Voki? 

I discovered Voki 2 years ago and just love it!  Voki takes the stress out of “presenting” a memory piece in another language in front of the class, and students can  focus on the material on the screen in front of them.   The kids have fun, (dare I say the words “fun test?”), and of course, I as the teacher have fun reviewing their very best material.  🙂  I emailed the parents the link to the website to view their child’s oral test, (the Voki), and they loved it too.  Over the weekend, at least 15 parents embedded their child’s Voki to their Facebook.  It’s something the kids are proud of, and instead of dreading oral test day, they really look forward to it.  🙂  

Q: Has Voki helped you with assessment?

Using Voki for oral tests allows the student to hear what I hear.  I can’t tell you how many times students would ask, “Why didn’t I make a 100 on my oral test?”  I would point out that they mispronounced a word, or said a wrong word and they would reply, “I did?”  Using Voki allows the students to hear themselves, as an evaluator, and they can re-record until they’re happy with it, and attach the recording to a Voki, making the assessment creative.  Students who use to make low assessment grades on oral tests are making perfect scores taking their oral tests using Voki.  Efficient and Proficient!!!!

Q: We heard that you’re something of a Voki expert among your peers, right?

I actually enjoy using Voki so much, and use it for so many tasks and assessments in my class, I teach a workshop for teachers about how to apply Voki in their class, (even at the MWALLT conference at the University of Minnesota).   I have become known as “that Voki teacher” at my campus, and even in my district.  As long as I keep the content fun and integrate technology to make learning efficient, I’ll never stop looking for ways to infuse my lessons with great technology, like Voki.  As a foreign language teacher, I’m looking for “efficient proficient,” and Voki gives me that.

Q: Have you had a chance to use Voki Classroom?

I have to say, it has been much easier to sell the benefits, since you have come out with Voki Classroom. It is so much easier to have the students organized in classes, and have their assignments posted and ready to work on when they open up their account.   I look forward to spreading the word about Voki and Voki Classroom.  Thank you for all you have done for my students.  I can’t wait to see what Voki will come up with next, for uses in the classroom. 🙂  k. pura vida — And here are Mrs. Church’s students talking about using Voki in oral tests:

For more info, check out Mrs. Church’s links:

Want to be part of our Interviews with Educators series?
Send us an email (submit@voki.com) and we’ll be in touch!

Until next time,

The Voki Team
Tip of the Week – Viewing Voki in Full Screen

Tip of the Week – Viewing Voki in Full Screen

Can you make a Voki scene appear in FULL SCREEN?

Yes, you can!

If you’ve ever wanted to view a Voki in full-screen mode, there is a really neat trick we’d like to share with you. This can be useful for presentations, for those who are visually impaired, and just as a cool trick that you can teach others.

Follow the steps below to make your Voki full screen!

Note: The code may look overwhelming but if you follow these steps, playing your Voki in full screen will be a breeze.

  1. In My Voki, click on the Voki you want to display.
  2. Click the ‘Publish’ button.
  3. Copy the embed code and Paste into any word processing document.
Now, here’s the fun challenge… You need to be a little bit of a sleuth and pick out the right part of the code:
Tip: This is a great student exercise in attention to detail.
  1. A few lines from the bottom of the code, you should see a URL  (http://) in quotes
  2. Copy the URL beginning with: http://vhss-d.oddcast.com/vhss_editors/voki_player.swf?doc= (do not include the quotation marks) and ending with a number before the word “quality”
  3. Paste the URL into your browser and click Go
That’s it! If you copied the URL correctly, your Voki will now load in Full Screen mode.
Here is an example. You want to copy the highlighted part.

Voila!

Now, you’ll have the biggest Voki of them all!

What do you think? Share your comments below and we’ll be sure to respond.

Until next time,

The Voki Team

New Lesson Plans for the New School Year

New Lesson Plans for the New School Year

School has already begun and we are sure you have a lot on your to-do list. Here at Voki, we are working hard to help you prepare for the new school year on the technology front! We have added many new lesson plans that do not take long to complete, and don’t require much prep time. These are great for re-introducing your students to Voki and to your subject (in case they forgot anything over the summer…it happens).

The new lesson plans cover a variety of topics and span from kindergarten to 12th grade. Below are several examples of new lesson plans, now available in Voki’s Lesson Plan Database:

  • Discovering Your Intelligence: Students create a Voki to elaborate and speak about their favorite hobby.
  • Classroom Topic of the Week: Students follow a current event and create a Voki presentation. Perfect for Social Studies!
  • The Meaning of a Poem: Students analyze a poem by using their intuition and personal opinions. This allows them to feel more engaged with poetry and more confident with literary analysis.
  • Guess Who with Voki: A fun game of guess who? with historical figures will keep students entertained and informed.
  • Elicited Opinions of History: Students form concise arguments based off of their opinions of the current topic or debate in class.

Each lesson contains the intended grade level and subject(s), the time recommended for completion, resources needed, as well as a list of objectives and activities. Each lesson is easy to follow and can be adapted according to your own personal teaching style.

Remember, Voki lesson plans are completely free – and are our way of thanking you for using Voki for education.

As always, we are interested in hearing about the Voki lessons you have used in class. If you have a lesson plan that uses Voki and you would like to share, please email us at lessonplans@voki.com.

Happy teaching!

The Voki Team

Interviews with Educators | Mrs. Menezez

Interviews with Educators | Mrs. Menezez

Ana Maria Menezez is an English teacher in Brazil and uses Voki to inspire her students to speak up and learn a foreign language in an engaging atmosphere. Ana was kind enough to share with us some examples of how she uses Voki in the classroom along with some of her own tips and tricks.

Ana uses Voki to motivate students to practice speaking in a personalized way and also creates her own Voki to improve interaction between teacher and student. One of the most important things about Voki for Ana is its ability to help the quieter students speak up and have a voice in class.

For more of Ana’s tips, tricks, and Voki experiences, check out the interview below!

Check out Ana’s blog: Life Feast

Follow Ana on Twitter: @anamariacult

Want to be interviewed for the Voki blog?
Send us an email at submit@voki.com and we’ll get in touch!