A Spec-TACKK-ular Tool

Have you ever seen an “About Me” or “About Us” page online that was just plain boring? What made it boring? Walls of text with no multimedia to be found? An outdated website? The same formula with nothing to make the page unique?

This week, we used a tool that can solve all of these problems!

One of our activities this week was to create our own “About Me” page using Tackk. At first, I found navigating the site to be a bit tricky, but once I played around with it and got the hang of it, I loved it! I like that Tackk is a combination of social media and a site where you create your own web page, so you can connect to other users and see cool stuff on your home feed as well as create your own page.

I also like how vibrant and engaging the site as a whole is. It’s very modern but not too overwhelming, and it definitely beats the outdated sites that some schools are still using. The only limitation is that Tackk only lets you create one page at a time, but with some creativity and linking, you can still use it to make an entire website.

My favorite part about Tackk is the multimedia. Tackk lets you connect to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, embed videos and audio, upload and caption pictures, and so much more. There are also a ton of options for backgrounds, fonts, and colors. With all of the options available, I think it actually takes more effort to make a boring page on Tackk than an engaging one!

Check out my own About Me page!

I will definitely use Tackk in my future English classroom, and I can see a variety of ways that I can incorporate it. Some of my ideas are:

• Using it for my teacher page (or a supplemental page if the school I work at uses something different)
• Having students make their own About Me pages at the start of the school year
• Assignments such as journals, projects, and portfolios
• Using it for my teacher portfolio (or something to put in the portfolio!)

Tackk is a much more engaging and interesting way to create an About Me page or complete an assignment, and I’m excited to use it and have my students use it in the future.

For more information and idea, check out this video on how to use Tackk in the classroom:

Closed Captioning Craze!

I never really thought too much about how important closed captioning is until our most recent class. Closed captions are a text version of the spoken part of a TV show, movie, video, or computer presentation. It also provides a text version of whatever sounds are happening, such as music, audience laughter during a sitcom, or an explosion during an action movie.

Closed captioning is primarily for the benefit of people who are hearing-impaired. However, like many accessibility features, it can benefit those who are not disabled as well. For example, have you ever wanted to watch a video in a crowded place but you didn’t have your headphones? Have you ever wanted to watch Netflix but found that your computer’s speakers aren’t working? Or what about if you’re watching a video in a language that you know pretty well but could still use some help in understanding what everyone is saying? Closed captioning can come in handy in all of those situations!

Did you know that 20% of Americans have some kind of hearing loss? That’s a pretty sizeable part of our population. As a person who is one of the other 80%, it’s easy to take being able to hear videos for granted. The majority of TV channels and movies have options to turn on closed captioning, but that option isn’t always available for videos online, even with all of the strides we have made with web accessibility. That’s why websites such as Amara are so important. Amara is a way for anyone to caption and translate videos from the internet. One of our assignments for this week was to caption a short (one minute) video using Amara, and I actually had a lot more fun with it than I thought! It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it, and anyone can do it! All you need to do is:

1. Create an account (it’s free!)
2. Choose a video and upload it to Amara
3. Write out the transcript for the video
4. Sync the captions to the audio (this is the tricky part!)

Captioning a video definitely requires patience, but it’s very rewarding. Something that is relatively easy to us can mean so much to a person with a hearing impairment, and websites like Amara bring the internet one step closer to total accessibility- and the best part is that we get to help!

Here’s the video that I captioned (you’ll have to click the link because Amara doesn’t seem to want to let me embed the video!):

How I Met Your Mother- Desperation Day

If I have free time in the future, I’ll definitely consider captioning more videos!

Want to know more about hearing impairments? Check out these links:

Basic Facts About Hearing Loss

Types, Causes, and Treatments of Hearing Impairments

National Association of the Deaf