Sunday, August 26, 2012

Make writing, speaking, and listening more fun with Voki

Guest post by Willyn Webb | Cross posted at Teaching Generation Text

Students come to Delta Opportunity School for many reasons, but the one they all have in common is that they are credit deficient. Most feel incapable of writing even a basic essay. Thus every student has an individual learning plan focusing on their needs. In the small group English class there are students ranging in age from 15 to 20 as they are grouped not according to their grade level in school, but according to their ability level. The students love working at their level. So many have been passed along due to their age and many have missed important skills due to multiple moves, crisis in live, or nonattendance. 

Efforts towards improving reading, writing, speaking, and listening are always at the forefront of learning for students. Making writing fun, using the skills they do have (such as texting and talking on the phone), and learning from each other are goals that teachers have in the classroom. To meet that goal, teachers have incorporated a tool called Voki and the use of student-owned devices to help improve these skills. Students who had never written a personal experience essay found themselves writing and enjoying it after first practicing with texted notes and calling Voki either at home or at school.

The embedded example below is from Joey, a student who had been placed in special education courses, labeled, and passed along until his mother started advocating for something more. Now he is thriving at Delta Opportunity School with love, support, counseling, and instruction in small groups of regular kids using innovative tools such as Voki. This personal experience became his first ever essay and was also used as an example by the American Lung Association. Joey has since written (some with Voki and some without) many wonderful essays and delivered a presentation in front of his class. This is remarkable given that previously he got so nervous he could barely get through a single sentence.

More and more teachers at Delta Opportunity School are finding that when we let the kids use the tools they are currently hiding in their pockets, great things happen. Students are stepping up and learning, growing, and achieving. Student’s resulting self-esteem is an invaluable tool for further growth and teachers have discovered that enhancing learning can be fun!
On the Voki website students create their avatar, and then get the call number to record the voice. This can be done at or away from school, on a cell phone or a landline. Students can read a written speech, speak impromptu, and use texted or written outlines or notes. The Vokis can be shared via email, on a class website, blog, or wiki. Students can watch one another’s Vokis and comment on them by creating another Voki. Students love listening to each others' Vokis as much as love making their own. Revision, the step of the writing process that most all students dread, is fun and easy with Voki. If you don’t like your Voki, simply re-record. It is all part of the process. 

Learn more about this free, easy tool at 

You can more about enhancing learning through cell phones in Teaching Generation Text.

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