Thursday, June 21, 2012

Voki for Literacy

Efforts towards improving student reading, writing, speaking, and listening are always at the forefront at Delta Opportunity School.  This year an exciting tool called Voki  and the use of student owned devices enhanced the experience for all.  Some background on our students is that they come for many reasons, but the one they all have in common is that they are credit deficient.  This means they have not had success in traditional education.  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 level in school, but according to their skill levels.  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.
       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 Voki has helped us meet.  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 above example is from a student who had been placed in special education courses, labeled, and passed along until his mother started advocating for something more.  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, done a powerpoint presentation in front of his class (previously he got so nervous he stuttered so that he could not get through a single sentence).  Use the tools kids love and they will step up and learn, grow, and achieve.  The resulting self-esteem is an invaluable tool for further growth.  Enhancing learning can be fun!  Let the kids use the tools they are currently hiding in their pockets and great things happen.
      On the Voki website students create their avatar, then get the call number to record the voice.  This can be done at home or at school, on a cell phone or a landline.  Students can read a written speech, speak impromptu, use texted or written outlines or notes, and rerecord as many times as necessary.  The Vokis can be shared via email, on a class website, blog, or wiki.  Students love listening to each others' Vokis as much as love love making their own.  Revision, the step of the writing process that all students dread, is made more fun with Voki.  It is all part of the process.
Learn more about this free, easy tool at Voki.
Learn more about enhancing learning through cell phones in Teaching Generation Text.

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