Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The One Where We App Smash Our Reading Vocab with Tellagami

My 1:1 iPad Tech Specialist, Brent Catlett, recently introduced our class to a "New-to-Us" App called Tellagami. Tellagami allows students to make an avatar and place it in front of a premade digital background OR any picture of your own. Once the picture is placed and your avatar is made the avatar stands in front of the picture and can speak (in your own voice or in several digital voices) about whatever you want to. One nice feature is that the app only allows you to record for 30 seconds so if challenges students to be thoughtful and precise in their creation.

After we had our discovery time with the app, our class was asked to think of ways we could use it within our curriculum. One great suggestion given was to use it to demonstration knowledge of reading vocabulary. We tried it out this week for the first time and below and a few of the results.

Here is the process each student had to go through:

1) Look up the definition of each word.
2) Find a picture (or take one of yourself) the "shows" the meaning of the word.
3) Put each picture in the app Skitch and write the name of the vocab word that matches the picture.
4) For each word, put the picture you chose in Tellagami, create an avatar for yourself and then yourself A) saying the word, B) defining the word, C) Using the word in a sentence and, D) describing the word in the picture behind the avatar.
5) Export each Tellagami video file into iPad camera roll.
6) Open up iMovie and create a single video file with all 8 Tellagami videos. Bookend the Tellagami clips with a video of the student introducing the project.
7) Upload the video to our classroom YouTube account.

Whew! As with anything practice makes perfect. For their first time doing this, I was amazed at what they came up with! We also also working on being original (which may include being funny) in their work. In the first example below - I loved how the student used that comical picture of the owls in the house to illustrate what the word overwhelm means. It was definitely memorable and that is one of our main goals in doing this - making memorable experiences that they can recall from later.

For all of my students, this experience will be something they remember much better than if we, say, just talked about the words and definitions at the board or had them do a worksheet about the vocabulary words for the week.


  1. WOW! This is excellent, Garrett! Great job! I love the way you did some app smashing and imported the Tellegamis into iMovie to take the videos from good to great. Personalizing the videos with the intro and conclusions is fantastic! Way to GO! Thanks for including the steps and writing your post. Sharing this awesome way to have students learn vocabulary will inspire all us. I am confident your students have a strong understanding of the new vocabulary words now. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks, Ann! And that is and should be one of our goals - meaningful activities that give the students experiences to remember. That way, they aren't just learning these words for a week, only to forget them. Hopefully - these experiences stay with them and most of these words are retained in their memories for a lifetime!

  2. Well I am very impressed! I watched all three videos. Great way to learn vocabulary and remember the words longer than a day. It's even an idea I might have to remember and try in class.

  3. Terrie - I have no doubt that your students would quickly become pros at it. Tellagami is so very simple to use. Once you get in full swing, if you ever want some or all of my students to do some 1:1 work with your students and any sort of Apps or projects, let me know. They would be SO happy to help out if they can.

    Very excited for the future!

  4. Isn't it amazing how quickly kids pick up on technology, and how excited they get when they are allowed to use it to demonstrate their learning? These projects are amazing, and it is easy to see that the students really understood the vocabulary they were learning. This is so much better than asking them to write sentences with their words!

  5. I think the activity was meaningful, and grabbed the students attention. Allowing students to find creative, fun, ways to learn improves the quality of learning. I believe these students got so much more out of the vocab words by creating this project than they would have if they just sat at their desk and copied the definition down. Nice work!

  6. I also like to use tellagami as a tool for students to introduce new ideas or concepts. How long did your Ss have to complete this activity and how long did it take to share? I like how tellagami is easy to us with other apps or as a middle app in a smash. I enjoy when Ss put the final product in iMovie and add some final touches. Great Job!!!

  7. Your steps outlining the expectations for the students' projects were very clear, and the students did an awesome job executing those steps. I too watched all three videos and was very impressed. My students have done similar vocabulary projects, but I love the way you included Tellagami and introductions by the students themselves.

  8. I LOVE this idea! We have tried doing this exact thing with BuddyPoke instead of Tellagami. [sad they turned to a paid app now]. You are right, if we can create memorable experiences, we have succeeded.

  9. It's clear that your students enjoyed the learning taking place in your classroom. I'm sure they like being able to watch their classmates' projects as well. This gives the students a creative way to present what could be a rather mundane topic--vocabulary.

  10. Great idea and definitely one that creates meaningful experiences. I appreciate the steps that you outlined. Definitely makes it clear for the students and also for us teachers who are getting started with something like this!

  11. "It was definitely memorable and that is one of our main goals in doing this - making memorable experiences that they can recall from later." My favorite quote from this post. I am failing in helping my students make this connection! We are creating these projects to show what we know and to learn from them. They aren't just assignments.

  12. Thank you for sharing this idea. I really like the ability to not only define words, but add visuals, avatars, and make them more interactive. I think students really have the opportunity to gain ownership and make learning vocab novel. Thanks for sharing!!