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!”

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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.

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.

Your Mid-July Catch Up on the Classroom

Your Mid-July Catch Up on the Classroom

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Here at Voki, school is on our minds even in the dog days of summer. That’s why we continue to create lessons and hooks and to improve our products so you can use them without breaking a sweat (we’ll leave that one up to the sun). Teachers, we hope you’re basking in the glory of summer break, but we got you covered when you’re ready to start thinking about the classroom again (no rush though).

How to Balance Staying in the Know and Enjoying Summer Vacation

Just because it’s summer, you don’t have to turn off the school sphere of your brain completely. Reading about relevant education news and potential school projects might be just the right dose you need to tap into your teacher self. Our latestblog rounds up sites that will keep you abreast of what’s new in education so you’ll be in-the-know when it’s back-to-school.  

Bastille Day is July 14!

Who can forget how the people of France stormed the Bastille for their independence? We’re putting a sweet touch on the French equivalent of America’s Independence Day by having students make a French-themed e-card in the shape of a cake. We’re betting the enthusiasm won’t be lacking for this hook activity.

EdTech 10: Gotta Catch ‘Em All

We made Getting Smart’s  Top 10 Tweet list for ed tech news. No surprise it was regarding our post on teaching politics with avatars.

“The Road to the White House” featuring Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Voki avatars

Speaking about teaching politics with avatars, have you seen our hook that brings students through the stages of the presidential election? Its nonpartisan approach covers bigger themes like democracy and government. But, we’re not going to lie, the Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton avatars are not to be missed (especially their uncanny voices).

The Voki App is now available on the iOS Appstore.

Our new app makes creating a Voki avatar easier than ever.  With a few taps of the fingertips, you can customize your own Voki avatar from a library of characters and accessories. Just like the online desktop experience, you can type your message or record your voice. Voila! Stay tuned for the Android version coming soon this summer!

Voki 2.0 is better than ever.

Our site recently went through some major upgrades. We introduced both monthly and annual subscription options, a sleeker Voki Presenter design, and easier navigation so you’re able to seamlessly share your Voki avatars with a friend, classmate, or teacher. We have an even bigger upgrade in the works—let’s just say it will make life as a teacher a lot easier.

Has Voki had a positive impact on your student’s life?

If so, we would love to hear about it and inspire others! Please email feedback@voki.com and share your story with us. If your story is featured, we will provide your classroom with a free, one-year level 3 subscription valued at $100.

Stay cool, Voki  fans! Hope the rest of your week is great!

Sincerely,

Catherine Alvino, Digital Marketing Coordinator

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Cooling Down with Voki

Cooling Down with Voki

 

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Happy Friday!

July is officially in full swing, and let’s just say—we’re feeling it. Temps may be rising, but Voki is keeping it cool for us with its fresh content and features. Here’s how it can help you beat the heat:

Using Voki on the First Day of School, as a Reflection Tool, and to Introduce Personas. 

Voki ambassador Paul Solarz just made ice breakers a little more fun. From a spin on “Two Truths and a Lie” to a new way to teach the Oregon Trail, Paul shares his secrets on how he uses Voki in his 5th grade classroom. 

“You Get Summers Off” & Other Damaging Myths About Teaching.

We’re sure you heard some of these before, but do those who aren’t teachers know the real stats? The dismissal bell might ring at 3:30, but teachers are actually putting in an average of 53 hours per week. You might want to furnish yourself with the rest of these facts in case someone gets them wrong. 

Grade 5 Social Studies: Complex Societies

Looking for an engaging way to educate your students on the Inca, Aztec, and Mayan People? This all-new Voki Teach lesson will take you through what attributes make up these complex societies, including the technologies they introduced to civilization. 

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Vokis are now available!

It’s hard to escape the mugs of these two—but why not bring a fresh face to the table? We’re talking about our two newest additions to the Voki library—the presumptive nominees themselves. Check them out on our Instagram page and see them in avatar form! 

“The Road to the White House”

Teaching politics can be tough, so we listened to teachers’ concerns and created a non-partisan hook presentation that covers the main stages of the presidential election process and gives students the chance to host their own classroom vote. We’re keeping the media frenzy out of the classroom, and refocusing on themes like government and democracy. 

The Voki App is now available on the iOS Appstore.

Just a hunch, but we bet you’re looking for a new app to try out. We felt the same way, which is why we launched the Voki for Education app. Not only is it free, but it also streamlines the Voki experience so you can now create and share avatars from your desktop and mobile devices.

Voki 2.0 is better than ever.  

We don’t know what feature of our recently updated site we like best. It offers both monthly and annual subscription options to keep things within budget, not to mention the navigation is incredibly easy. Did we tell you Voki Presenter got a makeover too? Well it did, and the sleek design will captivate any audience. 

Has Voki had a positive impact on your student’s life?

If so, we would love to hear about it and inspire others! Please email feedback@voki.com and share your story with us. If your story is featured, we will provide your classroom with a free, one-year level 3 subscription valued at $100.

Stay cool, Voki fans! Have a great weekend!

Sincerely,

Catherine Alvino, Digital Marketing Coordinator

Fun Fact: The winner of the July Fourth hot dog eating contest at the historic Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island devoured a record-breaking 70 hot dogs and buns in just 10 minutes. 

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Using Voki on the First Day of School, as a Reflection Tool, and to Introduce Personas

Using Voki on the First Day of School, as a Reflection Tool, and to Introduce Personas

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Although few people would have ever considered my 5th grade classroom “traditional,” I did avoid technology for the bulk of my first decade of teaching!  Nowadays, there are so many amazing tools out there that I wonder how anyone could avoid using technology with their students today.

Voki is one of those tools that I use in my classroom to increase motivation and encourage reflection with my students.  One such way I use Voki to increase motivation is on the first day of school.  Since it’s the first day, some of us don’t know everyone.  A mixer is a nice, old-fashioned way of getting to know each other and building community in the classroom.  Instead of the traditional walking around mixer, I decided to do a techie version that requires students to embed a URL on their blog & comment on each others’ posts.  (I bet these 5th graders never expected this on the first day!)

The mixer is called “Two Truths and a Lie.”  Students brainstormed two things that are true about themselves, but that might not be very believable to their peers, and one thing that is actually untrue that might be believable by their peers.  They mix them up & record them on a Voki.  After they are finished, they embed their Voki on their blog for others to listen to.  When people listen, they post a comment with their best guess as to which one might be the lie.  At the end of the period, the students post a comment on their blogs explaining which one was the lie for all to read.

I wanted to get technology into my students’ hands right away because we needed to establish some daily rituals, access some information online, and I needed my kiddos to pass on some details to their parents after school.  I also wanted my students to access their Google Mail accounts to accept invitations to our Weebly site, and learn how to create blog entries.

Here is a link to one of my students’ blog entries where some peers listened to their Voki and posted their guess as to which one of the three facts was actually a lie: http://psolarz.weebly.com/58/post/2012/08/two-truths-and-a-lie.html

Not only is Voki motivational to students, but it also makes an excellent reflection tool.  Rather than have my students complete written reflections after finishing an activity, I occasionally have them create a Voki explaining what they learned from the lesson.

For example, in our unit on the Oregon Trail, my students participate in a simulation where they each become individuals traveling westward in a wagon train.  At the end of each period, I have my students summarize their learning experiences in several different ways, and one of those ways is through a Voki.  The novelty and creative process engage them in the task and often improve their work far beyond traditional written answers.  In addition, students who struggle with writing are able to explain their learning without being encumbered by the written word.  Because they are able to record their voices, they often get into it much more so than when they are writing their reflections or typing them.  Here is our “Voki Journal” of our journey west: http://paulsolarz.weebly.com/voki-blog

Finally, we like to use Voki to introduce ourselves to the other members of the crew headed to colonize Mars.  This is another simulation that we do in our classroom where children learn about the U.S. Constitution and Government through the experience of settling the red planet.  Due to overcrowding in the year 2150, we are forced to try to create a colony on Mars so that the human race can continue!

We are each from a different country and all have different backgrounds and occupations.  I have my students create a Voki introducing themselves, telling us a little bit about where they are from and what their job will be on Mars.  We then embed those Vokis at the top of our ePortfolios so whenever anyone visits our page, they can learn a little bit about our persona in the simulation.  Here is an example (in the top, right-hand corner of the page): http://paulsolarz.weebly.com/6—kendall

Voki has provided my students with a tool that motivates them to try their hardest and have fun doing so!  But be warned, once you teach them how to use this tool, they’re going to ask for it ALL THE TIME!  🙂

 

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Paul Solarz is a 5th grade teacher in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is a 2015 Global Teacher Prize Top 50 and author of Learn Like a Pirate.

The Voki Weekly: June 16th Edition

The Voki Weekly: June 16th Edition

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“I dwell in possibility.” –Emily Dickinson

Hey Voki friend! 

We’re kicking off this edition of The Voki Weekly with a quote that resonates well in the ed tech community. You can say that poetry was to Dickinson what technology is to today’s classroom—both are vehicles to endless possibilities. Let’s take a look at all the things Voki has made possible this week with its avatar technology:

  • Press. If you’re looking for a well-written read on what it’s like for a company to enter the ed tech arena—the challenges and the excitement—and that also covers the new legislation springing up in an age where students are now accessing technology in the classroom, this article is for you. A special behind-the-scenes look, this article showcases some of the pioneering brands in the biz—and what their products specialize in. We’re thrilled that Voki received a spotlight in this kidscreen news.
  • Trump and Hillary Vokis now available. Have you seen the new Trump and Hillary Vokis yet? They bear a striking resemblance to their Republican and Democratic counterparts. Now’s a good time to start thinking about how you will be teaching about the election come the beginning of school.
  • Voki for Education app now available. Looking for a convenient way for you and your students to access Voki? How about from our new app? You can download it for free in the iTunes App store onto all iOS mobile devices. It’s a perfect way for your students to work on projects in the classroom and at home, and it’s also a great assessment tool.
  • Hooks. Print cards are getting a little old, aren’t they? Have your students make their deserving dads a Voki card for Father’s Day (6/19). Did you see our Flag Day hook narrated by President Reagan? If you haven’t, you can check it out here. Be on the lookout for the Summer Solstice (6/20), Don’t Let Nouns Get You Down Day! (6/23), and Camera Day (6/29) hooks. We’re especially excited about the hook coming out soon honoring the birthday of Eric Carle (6/25)—you know, the tissue paper illustrator and author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Remember, all our hooks are posted on our Facebook, Twitter, and G+ pages.
  • Lessons. Last week, we published 4th Grade Social Studies. The topic was New York: The Early Years. Check out the free lesson here. For Level 3 Subscribers, the entire unit is available on voki.com. Today, Kindergarten Science will be going live on the site. The topic is The Five Senses. Be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter, and G+ pages today for the link to the free lesson.

Remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and on our blog. We love engaging with our Voki community! If you have any questions, ideas, or feedback, please feel free to email us at feedback@voki.com .

Have a great weekend!

Sincerely,

Catherine Alvino, Digital Marketing Coordinator

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Oddcast Inc
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