Thursday, March 31, 2011


I LOVE technology and use it in all kinds of ways within my classroom and with my students. I want to share technology with you by posting periodic posts regarding technology tools and suggestions for classroom use. There is ALWAYS something new coming out so you can't do it all but I hope I can challenge you to try something new. Please let me know your thoughts- your comments mean a lot to me! So here is the first featured technology tools: AUDACITY and VOKI   They sound like a foreign language, right? They do sound funny but they are also LOTS of fun!
Audacity is a FREE tool you can download and use to record your students. All you do is link it to your desktop and press record to record your students. Press play to hear what you recorded. Save the file and a .wav or .mp3 file. You can splice and delete if you mess up in parts. It's really easy- just play with it and you will learn it pretty quickly. You can then use the recording(s) to merge into a PhotoStory, Windows Movie Maker, Powerpoints, etc. But I used it to add to a VOKI. Click here for an audacity tutorial.
VOKI   Voki is a free service that allows you to create personalized speaking avatars and use them on your blog, profile, and in email messages.
As you can hear above when you click the arrow below the snail, I recorded my students reciting a spring poem. This is great for the kids to hear themselves to practice expression and fluency. It provides lots of reading motivation and is just plain fun! You can then "embed" the "voki" into your BLOG by copying and pasting the "embed code" from the "voki" site into the html when you write a new post. A great way to share student writings, too!  

20 Ways To Use Voki In Education By Michael Gorman-gathered from various people, resources, and personal reflection.
1. Classroom Newsletter – Provide information for students and parents using a unique style. Remember you can put a talking avatar in a classroom or school wiki, blog, or email.
2. Student Book Talk – Students persuade others to read a book. Along with title and author, students could either review, summarize, or encourage others to read.
3. Persuasive Speech – Assign a speech and have the Voki avatar give the introduction, three supporting details  to defend or rebut a given topic, and the conclusion.
4. Course Annoucements - Use Voki to create and embed online course announcements for students. It can be a fun and engaging way to present otherwise routine information.
5. Testing – Give a test with the Voki avatar asking questions or integrate it with a written test to assist students with reading difficulties, second languages, or to clarify questions for all. Merge it with a current online test in order to provide another modality for students.
6. Create a Dialog – As a lesson, the teacher can interact with an avatar, or have students write a script to interact with an avatar. Could be used in any subject and could involve interviews with famous people, subjects, or objects. Could also be used to present a topic or explain a concept.
7. Vocabulary – Use Voki to present a vocabulary list of words. Using real speech allows students to hear correct pronunciation. Students can stop, pause, rewind at any time.
8. Foreign Language – Great way to help students learn words through teacher prepared lessons. It also allow students to practice their new language by creating short stories, poems, or content informational pieces..
10. Media Reports – Students can write and produce a news story. This could include current happenings or historical events.  Other options include an on the scene report, a public service announcement, or an interview with a well know figure.
11. Poetry and Music Composition – Students create poems or lyrics that can be spoken or sung by their favorite avatar. This can include text-to-speech and real voice. They may even want to include musical instruments.
12. Voki Your PowerPoint - In PowerPoint 2010 you can insert Voki embed codes to place avatars on your slides. From “Insert”, click on the arrow under the “Video” on the right hand side of the tool bar. Here you can insert “Video from Web Site”. Click, then copy and paste the embed code. It will be inserted into your PowerPoint slide.
13. Story Writing and Telling – Students can read their stories and have others listen, including other classmates, parents, or distant relatives. Teachers could create story starters and have students finish the stories either through writing or with an avatar.
14. Avatar Conversation And A Flip Camera – Have students in a collaborative group write a dialog script. Use two computers and have the two avatars talk to one another. This would work for any subject or idea. With a flip camera use just one computer and edit the two conversations together. For added fun, include even more avatars.
15. Put A Voki In Your Glogster – Students love to use Glogster. Wouldn’t it be great to find a way to put a Voki inside of a glog?  You can learn how to do it by watching this video.
16. Scavenger Hunts – Teachers can develop a set of directions telling students where to find different objects in the classroom, school, or on the web. Think how this could be used  in an environment with portable devices. Some possible GPS opportunities?
17. Exchange Voki Avatars With Others – If a class is collaborating with another class or communicating with e-pals across the state, nation, or world,  why not send Voki messages? It can be fun and engaging.
18. Developing Characters In Stories And Books – This could include a favorite character from a book or a story the student wrote. Make great use of avatar composition and then have the avatar talk. Use text-to-speech, or real voice. It could be a speech by the character, a quote from the book, thoughts from the character related to the story or a description or biography of the character done in first person.
19. English As A Second Language – An awesome way to help students feel more comfortable with a new language.  Students may use the computerized voice first. Next, they record their own voice when feeling more comfortable. The skills of writing, reading and pronunciation are all included when using Voki.
20. Test review – How about creating a test review, a chapter walk through, a highlight of content?Students can playback, pause, and listen as many times as needed.
Note that you can embed  a Voki in numerous social platforms. Some have even used educational platforms such as Edmodo, Blackboard, and Moodle. The graphic below helps illustrate the wide number of websites that play well with Voki.

Realize that Voki speech can include text-to-speech, real voice recording with microphone, audio files, and telephone calls (including cell phones). Students and teachers can even download a Voki message to their phone. At the time of this publication, the maximum recording time was sixty seconds. At the present time Voki does require a log in and email address. In the near future it is hoped that Voki will set up a classroom environment for teachers. In  the meantime check your school AUP and Voki Privacy Policy. Be aware that students should be instructed regarding proper Web 2.0 usage procedures, including never giving any private information as part of their Voki presentation. Teachers may wish to set up their own classroom account for usage under the guidance of their school AUP. Last, remember that Voki has many outstanding uses, even if the teacher is the only creator of avatars. Take a moment and soon you will have a chance to hear voices of learning in your school and classroom!

Monday, March 28, 2011

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! 
Practice oral language skills, being a respectful audience, comprehension skills and have a few laughs on April Fool's Day by having a
Joke Sharing Time!
Knock Knock!
Who's there?
Disguise who?
Disguise jokes are killing me! 
Send home the printable below...

April 1 joke day
Another morning work example...
Two examples of student work...
You can see how you can tell at a glance who needs some phonetic or math assistance.
Sometimes SIMPLE works! Here are two of my favorite SIMPLE organization ideas that help my day flow with ease.
This simple little laminated folder labeled with "For Office" and "Mrs. Bussey" is so handy. All those doctor's excuses, picture money, and notes that need to go to the office go into the folder and then my helper of the day delivers it to the office. I don't know about you, but I do not have an assistant so this helps me keep my papers organized and gets papers out of my way so they don't hang around too long.
LOVE this rolling organizer rolls! I can move it easily to where I want it. I have 5 drawers labeled Monday-Friday with 2 extra drawers. I use the Monday-Friday drawers to organize for the week. This is a favorite Target find.  Would love to know some of your organizational favorites! My fellow BLOGGER at Pattons Patch has some organizational tips being highlighted as well: I see she likes that rolling cart too!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Fun!

I use the "Spring" poem for shared reading and to review long vowel patterns oa, ee, ea, compound words and ending -ing and -s. We act it out and add our own sound effects. I recorded the kids using "audacity"- if you haven't used it you should check it out! I will add the audacity file to our class BLOG so students can click to hear themselves.  We explored Ed Emberley's site and discussed his use of fingerprint illustrations and then the kids went to work illustrating in this style. They had a blast! They turn out really cute and add a bit of spring to the hallways.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tanya and Mrs. Scoma
Email your snail mail address and I will get this in the mail to you ASAP. I can't wait to hear how you and your students use this fun tool. 
Both "walks" are now available at...
 Ending time to enter to win a " Story Walk and Talk" is Saturday morning, 10:00 a.m. eastern time.
Story Walk: I give full credit of this idea to Kathy Bumgardner .Her website is   However, her version did not quite meet my needs in first grade, so I rallied some assistance from my first grade team to come up with this first grade friendly version and I call it "Story Walk and Talk." You use it to assist students with retelling a story- in a fun way! One side is for fiction and if you flip it over, the other side is for nonfiction. So, the student walks the "path" and retells the story using the prompts to guide them. Isn't that just the coolest??  I think so! So, I want to share one with TWO lucky bloggers. Keep reading to find out how to win your colorful and laminated, ready-to-use "story walk and talk!"

Here's how to win your "story walk and talk."
It will be printed in black and white, with each page mounted onto colored construction paper. It includes 9 pages laminated together to make a long "path."  One side will be for fiction retelling with the other side for nonfiction retelling.
I will randomly select 2 lucky winners that will receive  their very own Story "Walk and Talk," via snail mail, to use in their classrooms, laminated and ready to use!  Winners will be announced Saturday, March 26th. 
  • 1. Tell 1 person about this BLOG: Send my BLOG address to a teacher friend that may not know about it.
  • 2. Follow this BLOG.
  • 3. Leave a comment below saying that you have completed #1-3 and in the comment share your # 1 class management idea or any idea you picked up from a recent conference, book, professional development or web site because we can ALL learn from each other.
Gone, baby gone!
Mailed my National Board portfolio box.

Our Polygon Creations

Sunday, March 20, 2011

 2011 SCIRA  Conference Highlights
 Myrtle Beach, SC
(South Carolina International Reading Association)
I love attending a conference such as this where you are just immersed in good stuff- so many great ideas to be taken and added to your "bank of ideas". First of all, the food was DE-licious. Need I say more? This was NOT cafeteria food!  Here is a picture of one of the wonderful lunches. Now THAT's a teacher lunch!

My and my room buddy/colleague also splurged and had coffee delivered to our door each morning-heavenly!
Oh yea- back to the learning that took place- really, there was some!
Here are my favorite TOP 3 ideas from the conference...
1. Story Walk: I give full credit of this idea to Kathy Bumgardner .Her website is   However, her version did not quite meet my needs in first grade, so I rallied some assistance from my first grade team to come up with this first grade friendly version and I call it "Story Walk and Talk." You use it to assist students with retelling a story- in a fun way! One side is for fiction and if you flip it over, the other side is for nonfiction. So, the student walks the "path" and retells the story using the prompts to guide them. Isn't that just the coolest??  I think so! So, I want to share one with TWO lucky bloggers. Keep reading to find out how to win your colorful and laminated, ready-to-use "story walk and talk!"
2.  Phoneme Segmentation str-e-e-e-tch: Donna Whyte's session was filled with so many wonderful ideas. Her website  has the SCIRA handouts. You can click and print to see the ideas she shared. And- if you do not have her book    Morning Meeting/Afternoon Wrap Up    it's a must! She is an engaging and funny speaker with lots of heart for children. The idea I LOVED that she found from an Alaskan teacher was hooking letter cards to a piece of elastic and then stre-e-e-e-tching the elastic to illustrate the stretching of a word, as the letters stretch apart. You then release the elastic so the word goes back together. Brilliant!
3. Leader Board   Our school is jumping on board a big leadership theme and this idea supports leadership. This is another Donna Whyte idea. It is to create an "expert" or  "leader" book or board to display the names of students and their expert roles. For example, if you have someone really great at opening milk cartons, you would add the title "milk opener expert" and add names of students who do this well. When a child needs help with this, you refer them to a class "milk opener expert." This idea is to have many categories since we all have different strengths. Other ideas are shoe tying expert, technology expert, expert folders, etc.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ok so, just when I thought it couldn't get any MORE humorous, this is what we saw and heard all day through the window of our temporary room while our classroom is being painted. BANG, BANG, BANG - The awning fell down outside and was being re-hung. I didn't have one of the little "doo-dads" to close the blinds or I would have. But, at this point I just enjoyed the show.  haha  The kids were SOOOOOOO good through all of this, I must say- they impressed me!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Between this...
and working on national boards...

I am about to pull out my hair! Anyone ever have to have your room painted MID-year?  I mean, really???  I know---this too shall pass!  haha  You just have to laugh. I guess it will be a great time to rearrange the room! So, I will post more when things get half way back to normal. I hope to finish national boards this weekend and get that box mailed and the room will be complete by Wednesday hopefully. So, I look forward to a normal next week.  Hope your week is going well!
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