As a teacher, no matter what grade you teach or your content area, it is important to capture the attention of your students and make learning exciting so they can carry on their knowledge to other classes and their everyday life.
I teach Family and Consumer Sciences….or what people know as Home Ec….or Life Skills.
No matter what you call it, each name encompasses a content area filled with knowledge and activities that help students gain necessary 21st century skills and help them grow into more responsible and independent beings.
The assumption that is normally made about teaching Family and Consumer Sciences is that it is so easy because “you just cook and sew all day”. However, there are more things taught in Family and Consumer Sciences other than foods and sewing, one of those being, Interior Design.
I am currently in my 5th Year teaching Family and Consumer Sciences and from working with my students have found that they REALLY need to be engaged during presentations, in order to understand what is being taught.
I work with PowToon, which is another great educational tool for presenting, however, Voki gives a lot more options and allows teachers to connect the material in a stronger way.
*Disclaimer: Although I am writing specifically about Family and Consumer Sciences, Voki APPLIES TO ALL CONTENT AREAS!!!!
I first found Voki the summer of 2014 while I was a graduate student pursuing my M.Ed in Instructional Design and Technology. I researched the program and completely fell in love with it. I started to use it within weeks of the 2014-2015 school year with my 6th graders who created an “About Me” Voki, using Voki Classroom. My students absolutely loved it and what I loved about it was that not only were my students able to maximize their creativity, they also were able to work on their writing skills because they had to write a “script” for their character. I wrote a blog about the program and included pictures (https://fishphilosopher.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/voki-changing-the-way-my-students-learn/), but click the video below for an example of the project a student submitted.
Now, I am in a different district with different students and I am using Voki Presenter to make my 8th Grade presentations more engaging.
When Voki Presenter first came out, I was a little anxious to use it because it did not seem that easy to navigate. However, you have to learn by doing, right?
I started to create a presentation and the more I played with it and worked on it, the easier font and background changes came, and the fact that I could add an avatar was AWESOME!
A couple of features that I love about the avatars:
- Avatar Choice: There are so many avatars to choose from. You can choose from foods, holiday characters, historical figures (past and present), realistic people, and so many more! Also, you can edit almost every section of the avatar from skin color to accessories. Certain avatars are limited, but for others, the possibilities are endless.
- Avatar Voice: When selecting the voice for your avatar, you have 3 options. You can a) upload a voice file, b) type in what you want it to say and choose a voice, or c) record your own voice.
- Upload a Voice File: I have never used this feature but I am sure it is very simple to use.
- Typing a Voice: This is plain and simple. Type what you want it to say, choose a voice, and you’re good to go. One thing that is important to remember is that the avatars are sometimes syllable sensitive- they may or may not pronounce the word correctly and sometimes you need to alter it.
- When students are working with it, it really helps them focus on grammar and sentence structure. If you don’t put any punctuation in, the avatar WILL speak as one run-on sentence.
- Voice selection is not only English. You can choose from a variety of voices from different countries and regions! If teaching lessons on countries and specific regions, you can alter the voice to have an accent from that region. If teaching foreign language, you can alter the language from English to the language your students are learning. It is awesome!
- Recording Your Voice: If you do not want to type everything in, you can record your own voice using the microphone that is on your computer, or by calling a specific Voki number that they provide you with. It is very easy to use and when calling the number, it will prompt you with instructions.
Now as far as the presenter, there are a lot of great features! You can upload images, backgrounds, and text with ease! There really is not too much to say about the mechanics of how everything works because you are able to figure it out with no problems. The only thing I have had issues with is my avatar has not been playing automatically due to Adobe Flash Player. I have to right click and then select ‘run this plugin’ for it to work.
Below is my presentation that I use with my 8th Grade students. I also give my students guided notes so they don’t miss out on any information and once the slide and avatar has stopped, I refine the information and make sure all my students understand it. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me in the comments and I will be more than happy to get back to you!
Happy Teaching and Learning!