The purpose of a good education is to show you that there are three sides to a two-sided story. ~Stanley Fish
Voki is a free Web 2.0 tool that allows you to create personalized speaking avatars and use them on your blog, profile, and in email messages.
Voki is a combination of the Latin word “vox” meaning voice and “Loki” the mischievous god of Norse mythology. Now, there is an across the curriculum application! With Voki you create a customizable speaking avatar that accepts text, as well as recordings using your built-in computer microphone and/or audio files. Voki provides several HTML code options for your finished avatar that can be embedded into most wikis or blogs.
Here is a YouTube tutorial video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssGHaNX3O4g and a slideshow from slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/markmodra/voki-activities-presentation
As stated in The Edublogger, “educators use them to add a human element to their sites or to engage students.” They are also great as attention getters and warm-up/bellringers.
Suggestions for use in ESL classrooms may be found at this link:
So give Voki a whirl and let me know how it goes and how you put it to use in your classroom.
The 80/20 Rule is one of the most helpful of all concepts of time and life management. It is also called the “Pareto Principle” after its founder, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who first wrote about it in 1895. Pareto noticed that people in his society seemed to divide naturally into what he called the “vital few”, the top 20 percent in terms of money and influence, and the “trivial many”, the bottom 80 percent.
He later discovered that virtually all economic activity was subject to this principle as well. For example, this principle says that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results, 20 percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your sales, 20 percent of your products or services will account for 80 percent of your profits, 20 percent of your tasks will account for 80 percent of the value of what you do, and so on. This means that if you have a list of ten items to do, two of those items will turn out to be worth five or ten times or more than the other eight items put together.
I wonder…how would this apply to the classroom?
Accountability requires schools to prove something, while performance improvement is focused on improving student performance.
The conversation in the media, at the state and federal levels, and often, in schools is focused overwhelmingly on accountability.
A case in point:
Recently I volunteered at our local hospital. The occasion was a celebration for the 2000 hospital employees. The celebration theme was a carnival and there were games, caricatures, a dunking booth, a rock climbing wall, and plenty of food in the serving line. It was a typically hot, July day with temperatures in the 100’s.
All the favorite grilling foods were there…hamburgers, hot dogs, Texas smoked sausage, snow cones, watermelon, cookies, all the fixin’s.
Well, almost all of the fixin’s.
It is interesting how people react to the work done by others. Some are grateful, peppering their speech with smiles, “Please” and “Thank you.”
Not so for others. Others complain about the heat, (to people working in that heat!). Some complain about the lines. Some complain about having a 30-minute lunch.
And some complain about pickles.
Or the lack of pickles, in this case. Despite all the free food and drinks, and condiments, and extras, one woman noticed a lack of pickles. She was not consoled by pickle relish. She wanted pickles. No free meal or festive atmosphere would deter her determined complaining.
As you prepare your classroom for the approaching school year. As you send out your welcome letters and label books, desks, and supplies, please remember that there will be pickle people.
Pickle people are bitter. They usually give birth to pickle kids. And pickle kids are rarely absent. I guess the pickle doesn’t fall far from the tree! As you encounter pickle people, remember your goal, do not allow the bitterness to infect you. Do not let other people’s caustic comments and attitudes literally put you in a pickle.
You are not bitter. You are better. And your kids and students will be better for being in your class.
“I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music”
Joan Miro was an artist who appealed to my students. They appreciated his work because in Miro’s versatility there were many interpretations that appealed to their learning style. For linear, mathematical, and/or musical students, repeating patterns appeared prominently. The amorphous design aspects appealed to the artistic, naturalist, intra-and interpersonal student. Try incorporating Miro’s work with your students—even the youngest enjoy picking out the mini-pictures they recognize. (Use Google Image search and PicLens to see examples that your school filter will allow or use our webpage.)
Let Miro’s quote serve as a metaphor for the enormous possibilities that exist for you in your classroom!
While You Were Teaching…4OOPSs EduTech News Feed
The kids need you and the web keeps marching on…not to worry, 4OOPS’ EduTech news Feed has these top stories of interest to educators:
From Tech Crunch: July 1. You can no longer use a handheld mobile device in California and Washington. The first time fine in California is just $20, but the real deterrent is public opinion.
But, some studies have shown that talking on hands-free devices are just as dangerous as talking on cell phones regularly.
Will people who talk on their cell phones while driving now have to keep a lookout for the police, too, distracting them even more?
From Read/Write/Web: Adobe. Adobe is has just launched their version of an online office suite available at Acrobat.com, complete with word processor (Buzzword), web conferencing/whiteboard app (ConnectNow), online file sharing (Share), file storage, (My Files), and PDF converter. Adobe has also announced a brand-new version of Adobe Acrobat, Acrobat 9.
From TechCrunch: Ultralight laptops. The MSI Wind – is a $499, 2.6-pound, 10-inch laptop.
From Read Write Web: June 5, 2008. About half of all Internet users aged 12 and up have streamed a video file online in the past 30 days.
“Rubrics make the students’ lives much easier, but once written, they make the teacher’s life easier, too,” says Dr. Lena Nuccio-Lee, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at the University of New Orleans. See the complete story here. Technology tools online also enable us to customize assessment for student groups. Does Timmy need to concentrate on writing complete sentences? Does Simone struggle with spelling? Has you been working with Stan on word attack skills? Insert specific criteria into your rubric to help individual learners.
How-to Resource: How to Write a Rubric
As you begin to say goodbye to this school year, take just a minute to consider next year. Yes, next year. Time marches on faster than ants to a summer picnic blanket. A couple of proactive steps now will do wonders.
School Counselor Shannon Hutton, warns, “kids often get “antsy” about moving to the next grade.” And it’s no wonder, since 180 school days have just been spent getting used to their current classroom!
“They are leaving the comfort of their familiar classroom, established social group and teacher they’ve not only grown accustomed to, but usually really like. So the idea of moving to a new classroom, with a new teacher and a new set of classmates is often initially unnerving for kids,” says Hutton.
It may not be possible to get too many specifics about next year so let the Internet help!
Take a minute today and use Google Maps to find your child’s school for next year. Just enter the address and let Google Maps do the rest. Use the Zoom feature to narrow and widen the scope of the neighborhood. Visit Schoolnotes.com and enter your child’s school zip code to see if your son or daughter’s teacher has a webpage there.
Does the school website include links to teacher webapges on their home page? Click over to next year’s teacher and play an Internet version of “I Spy.” (I spy a field trip link! I spy a class pet!) Take a look and navigate around.
Most teacher webpages have a calendar. Scan over to the first few weeks to get a possible idea of what will be covered. Even if you do not yet know your child’s teacher, you can navigate another teacher’s page in the next grade together and get an idea of next year’s curriculum.
Now is also the time to swing by and check out the computer lab at next year’s school or grade. Will Jr. move from a Mac lab to a Windows lab? Will laptop carts replace the traditional lab in the next grade? Will students next year use AlphaSmarts, Neos, or Palm Pilots as a component of their digital backpack? Is there a summer computer camp offered? Having a summer to become used to any new technology will make the transition to the next grade SO much smoother.
If possible, walk the halls of next year today or tomorrow. Many grades are located in different, specific halls. Counselor Hutton advises, “The best way for parents to help transition kids to a new grade is to allow them to get the lay of the land, so to speak, so they don’t fear the unknown. Giving children an opportunity to visit their new classroom and meet their new teacher greatly helps reduce their anxiety about moving to the next grade.”
Consider a pool party, park meeting, or other play date with friends this over the summer. If possible, exchange email with other parents and let your kids email each other via your email address-add a comment occasionally. (Notice the importance of using parent email, for added privacy and protection.)
“The more children know what to expect about the upcoming school year, the more comfortable they will be with the transition to the next grade,” says Hutton. So start planning for a successful future school year today!
For thoughtful advice, plus innovative summer projects, visit her website, “Believer in Balance” http://www.sparkplugging.com/believer-in-balance/
Shannon Hutton, M.Ed., M.P.A., currently works as a school counselor and has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Master degrees in School Counseling and Public Administration. She is certified to counsel students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. You can read more about how she balances working and raising kids at Believer in Balance.