Using Technology to Engage Students
Do you ever feel that your students would rather watch a video than listen to you?
Children are so engaged by technology that we must find ways to use it to our advantage.
Voki is a free online program that can help you in a variety of ways.
The image of the male Voki was made by one of my students, when I taught in a self-contained and pull-out classroom. His research topic was on gun control, and he had to make a Voki of someone that would explain the problem and his solution.
I love that he put him in a big city, where this child knew gun control was a problem. The kids had so much fun making these! This is just one way to use them! There are so many more.
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1. Use to remind kids of directions on an independent activity – We often have many different centers going in our classrooms. How often do you hear, “I don’t know what to do. What am I supposed to do?” If you have a computer or iPad at the center, a Voki can be made with the directions. A child can watch and listen to find out the directions instead of interrupting the teacher.
2. Use as a substitute – Okay, admit it! When you know you will be out for a day, you plan the easiest activities because you are worried about the substitute explaining it correctly. Make a short Voki to explain the directions and have a substitute play it for the students.
3. Response to Reading – Have a child make a Voki to portray a character from a story or even to summarize a story. The free version allows recordings up to 1 minutes, which is a great way to teach a child to briefly summarize with only the most important events.
4. Research Projects – Use a Voki to present material from a research project. My students presented a problem and solution from their 21st Century projects. Here is one a student and I worked together on to help someone get a job. Their problem was that there were too many homeless people, and the solution was to help them get a job. Click here to go see it.
5. Give a voice to children who struggle to speak aloud or are scared to speak in front of others – There are four different options for adding a voice to a Voki. You can record your own voice from your computer, as I did above. There is also the ability to call a number to record your voice (in case a microphone is not available). For individuals that don’t want to speak, words can to typed in or an audio file can be uploaded. When words are typed, a computer voice is chosen to read the text. There are so many possibilities for differentiation in your classroom.
These are just a few ways that Vokis could be used in a classroom or home. There is a a paid version of Voki for the Classroom that you can get, but the free version is great and has been enough for me right now.
Go to Voki by clicking here and sign up for a free account. This is a great site for engaging students! How would you use a Voki?
Heather Salsman is a Special Education Inclusion Teacher from Indiana. She blogs at Teaching Through Turbulence about behavior management and differentiation.
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