Archive for March, 2012

Voki is a really good little tool to get your pupils speaking with a bit more confidence. It basically allows your pupils to create an amusing cartoony avatar which will speak a piece of typed, recorded, or pre-recorded language. The result animation can be either saved, emailed, embedded onto a blog or webpage or saved as a link to be accessed later. The one slight restriction is that the recording will last for a maximum of a minute, which is at least long enough for GCSE speaking presentations for instance.

I’ve used it a fair amount in lessons, firstly as a way of doing some listening practises and then I’ve had pupils preparing their own speeches. First I got my 5th form (year 11) to write out past tense presentations on free time activities, and having corrected them we recorded them onto a voice recorder. The pupils then made their avatars and then uploaded their recordings. The second stage was to get them to copy and paste a pre-written and corrected text in the future tense to the ‘text to voice’ option, and then hearing how it should be pronounced. This was in the lead up to one of the controlled assessments we were doing, and it worked very well as a practise strategy.

Ideally I think it is best to have pupils using a microphone in class or on their own laptops if they have them, as the uploading bit can take a while. There were a few mini problems with the uploading, I think due to our school firewalls, but we got there in the end!

Here is a voki made as a Spanish listening exercise on tv opinions (it was recorded in the dining hall, so please excuse the background noise!)

TV Voki

To create a Voki, go to the website here, and then click ‘Create’ on the top menu bar. You first can customise your avatar by choosing from the various creatures and figures available, and you can also choose a background. Once you have customised your character, click on ‘Give it a voice’ and then either type your words in, record yourself, or upload a premade recording. If you select the text to voice option, make sure you select which language you want it read in – most languages are available with male and female voices.  Having saved your recording, click publish and then you have the choice of how to save or share your newly created animation. You need to signup to save your voki in your account, but this is free. If you don’t signup, then you just have to save the html or embed code so you don’t lose it.

This is a widely used site as far as I know, and the pupils I have used it with have really enjoyed it and benefitted.  If you have any problems using it, please let me know.

Edmodo is a social network site that is geared up for teachers to set work for pupils. I am a huge fan of this site, given that one of my main aims as a Spanish teacher is to create a ‘Classroom beyond the classroom’ mentality in which pupils are enthused and empowered to do more constructive revision and practise on a regular basis. It has really worked since I started using it about a month ago, and so far I have introduced it to my Lower 6th and Upper 6th AS and A2 groups (Years 12 and 13) and also to my 4th form (year 10). Given that in appearance it looks a lot like facebook, it immediately feels familiar to the pupils, and therefore it is very easy to use.

Basically, the concept is that you create a group that your pupils join and then you create various assignments, quizzes and polls for them. With each assignment, quiz or poll, you can set a time limit for its completion, collect a mark for your gradebook and thus monitor your pupils’ progress. You can also send notes and alerts to pupils and create a library of useful links and resources that pupils can use.

Best of all, it is a free resource. Simply go the website and click on ‘I’m a teacher’ and follow the instructions to create your username and login details. When you then have the option to create a group it will give you a join code, and this is what your pupils will need to know to join the group you have created. When they logon, they will be asked for this code as well as to create their logon details, and they will then join your group.

To create a quiz could not be easier. You have a variety of options to choose from (True/False, Multiple Choice, Short Answer and Fill in the Blank) and then design your questions as you want. You can set due dates for test completion and time limits as well once the quiz is started. So far I have been doing vocabulary revision questions, grammar multiple choice questions and various quizzes on the films my class is studying for their WJEC SN4 exam and my pupils are finding them really useful. Most of the quizzes are corrected as your pupils do them, but you do need to correct short answer quizzes yourself.

Another fun thing is the awarding badges option for good work. I have created a few of my own and things are already getting competitive amongst the pupils to gain as many badges as possible.

All in all, I strongly recommend Edmodo. It can also be downloaded as a free app for your iPhone (don’t know about its availability on other smartphones) and should have a real impact on pupils practising and improving their language use.