2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator

2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Julie can't give a speech, and her 504 says that I must find a way to accommodate this.   It would be an understatement to say that this is problematic in an English class.  I was immediately frustrated, and I consulted Julie's former teachers.

"What should I do?  We start the year with an introduction speech!" I said to my friend the speech therapist, with whom I run in the mornings.

"Can she submit a speech without giving it in front of the class?" she asked.

"Will Julie submit a speech on YouTube?" I asked her former English teacher.

"I offered that possibility last year," she said.  "No go."

I truly wanted to accommodate Julie's needs, but I wasn't sure how to do it so she would be successful.  Typing and sending a paper isn't the same as a speech, and speeches are a required part of the Speaking and Listening Standards.  Furthermore, I was worried that Julie wasn't going to attempt anything I suggested.

I took a deep breath and jumped. . . I told Julie that she could submit her speech using any web tool of her choice.  I suggested Sock Puppets because through the app she could scrub her voice, but I said any tool would do.  I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

This morning I opened my email and found a link to Julie's Voki.  Voki is a free web 2.0 tool that generates avatars that can speak whatever words you give them.  Julie had typed her speech into the Voki, and her avatar spoke the words she gave it.

I use Voki for my introduction pages on Blackboard.  I like it because I can use different avatars for each purpose.  Here is my Voki for my Blended Rhetoric and Composition class:


And here is my Voki for my AP Literature and Composition class:

Which one looks the most like me?



I realize that technically, Julie only typed a paper, but she had to make that paper sound like a speech, which I think is a big step.  These are the moments that I thank God that I took several workshops on free Web 2.0 tools.  What would I have done without Voki?

The point is this:  let go and take a chance.  Sometimes an app will work, and sometimes it will blow up in your face.  Sometimes a breakthrough will come from the use of an app or a tool, and that erases all the other epic fails (as long as you learn from them).

How do you use Voki?


Stephani Itibrout

Blended English

Follow me on Twitter @itibrout

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