If you were anything like me during the summer months of quarantine and social distancing you spent your time scrolling through social media. I scrolled past picture after picture, post after post of teachers posting about their new Bitmoji Classrooms. At first I rolled my eyes and kept looking for the dog pictures and funny memes, but eventually found myself picturing what my virtual classroom would look like. I began my Bitmoji journey by joining the Facebook group, Bitmoji Craze for Educators. Here I saw tutorials of the “how tos” and discovered an entire community of teachers willing to share backgrounds, furniture and other design elements. I decided to hop on the Bitmoji train and started to create my own virtual classroom.
Great! I finished creating my Bitmoji Classroom and it was fun, like the old Sims games where you got to create your own cities, towns, and amusement parks. Then I started thinking… now what? My classroom was super cute I thought, gosh I even put my chocolate labrador, Horton, in it! With the cuteness overload and the realistic pictures I realized this would be a nice teaching tool, but I wanted more. This isn’t going to be very engaging or interactive for the students, so I wanted it to be more.
Interactive digital classrooms allow students to become engaged with the materials as they would in person. It also allows for critical thinking as well as scaffolding to occur.
If you haven’t done so already, you would first have to create your own Bitmoji Classroom!
I would suggest beginning by looking at “Virtual Classroom in 10 Simple Steps” for a start.
Another great place is to join Facebook groups and Teacher Communities that focus their efforts on Bitmoji classrooms. Asking co-teachers and friends to help you is another great option. Once you get the basics in your room, you can start designing and creating the interaction!
Embed Those Links!
I like to think of it as what journey do you want your students to take? Obviously, age and ability play a large part of this. You don’t want a student to click on five different items to find out where they need to go. Click on any object in your scene and assign a URL to it to depict where the child will go once they click on that item. Click the object, then go to insert, click link. You will have the option of placing a URL address in or another slide in our presentation.
Most of the items in my classroom are linked to another slide in my presentation. For example: The calendar takes us to our morning routine including calendar, weather, schedule. The globe to Social Studies and the workbooks to our Reading and Math series. No matter what item you place a link on or how many you use, you will need to teach and model to your students how to click on an object and how to return if need be.
You might want to consider how the students will return to your main page. You don’t want to force a student to exit out of the page and have to find the classroom again. My suggestion is to have the same symbol or picture on all your slides, so the students will learn when they click that item they will be taken back to where they were. Mine is a picture of my dog, Horton. My students know whenever they click on Horton, they will automatically be taken back to the room they were just in.
Click and Drag
Creating a click and drag like the one you see below, is an excellent form of interaction. Jenn Sego, discusses her “Build a Word” activity during her interview with Emily Garcia, ETTC’s founder.
Returning back to my personal Google Classroom, once you click the math textbook the students are automatically taken to our Math page. Here they will find a room full of resources and manipulatives at their fingertips. You can link in URLs to take you to virtual manipulatives like “counters”, “calculator”, “dice”, “interactive clocks” and “dominos”. Whatever hands on materials you use in your typical classroom environment you can embed directly into your classroom! Two different websites that offer a variety of free manipulatives to link in to your classroom are:
Build a Community
Just because each student is in their own home sitting by themselves in that little cube on your screen, it is more important than ever to still attempt to build a community of learners. Students still need to feel safe, loved and a part of something. You can coordinate using your attendance in the morning with a check of a morning message or asking a question like: How are you feeling this morning? Did you eat breakfast? Would you rather? What are you having for lunch today? You can create a click and drag as mentioned above where students can find their name and drag it to the appropriate answer or you can have the student type their name under an answer. This is where you can easily take attendance by seeing who answered the Question of the Morning.
Embed Videos and Voice
To make your classroom more interactive as well as personal you can embed various videos to coordinate with your lessons or provide opportunities for brain breaks. Brain breaks can include virtual workouts, dance break, or calming music. You can embed any type of YouTube or other platform video by clicking on Insert then Video. Besides videos that pair well with the content of my curriculum to use as a teaching aide, I love to utilize the use of timers. For example, my students take a bathroom and stretch break prior to their “specials class” (like art, music, gym, etc.). We use a timer to let students know when they need to be back in their seats ready to go with whatever supplies they may need!
Another personal touch is embedding audio into your slides. There are numerous Google extensions that allow you to record your own voice and save it as a file. Once you record your voice and save it, the steps to embed it are similar to the videos. This time click on Insert then Audio. The audio could be a morning message for your students, directions or reminders of expectations.
Assessments and Assignments
I found a great shortcut using my Bitmoji classroom with assignments or assessments. I love to use a “To – Do List” slide in my classroom. You can align this with your class schedule or you can create a separate slide. Below is an example of what one may look like. Students can place a check mark in the box to indicate that they completed an assignment or task for small group / independent work. Depending on how you are assessing your students you can include that in your agenda or “To Do” list as well.
Many teachers I’ve been talking to like creating assessments within Google Forms because you can indicate the correct answer and it will automatically grade the students’ submissions for you. Once you create this assessment you can go to the share function and copy the link to your assessment. Next, embed the link within your slide by clicking on Insert → Link. Once the link is embedded, the wording will show up blue and would be clickable for individuals to use.
So as an answer to my question… I Made a Bitmoji Classroom… Now What?👇🏼
Incorporating interactive lessons into the digital classroom can greatly increase student interest and engagement. By providing these opportunities for interaction it may allow students to have more of an ownership of their work and keep students social. Unfortunately, as teachers, it falls upon us to create these dynamic opportunities. However, we are all in this together and there is a fantastic community out there that shares their work, brainstorms and works together to make a child’s life better and stronger.
Written by: Christopher Olson
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