I think we can all agree that emojis are the modern day hieroglyphics. In fact, our students are sharing complete thoughts--and complete stories-- in get this, PICTURES. It’s true! Take a peek at the phone of any tween or teenager. Most of their ideas and emotions are summed up in one little icon. Something’s drop-to-the-floor funny? 😂 will do. Do they have parents looking over their shoulders? Insert 👫 .
I think that’s why I was so excited about a tweet shared by Steve Wick recently. And while his post focused on how we can use emojis (Yes, emojis!) as a way of organizing our Google Drive, his tweet introduced me to a new Chrome extension that I didn’t know I needed in my life. Do yourself a favor and add Emoji for Google Chrome to your browser. Not only will you have access to all of the same icons and pictures that are a built into our smartphones, you will open up a whole new way of using Emojis in the classroom:
Visual summaries. Challenge your students to use emojis to summarize pieces of text. Take a look at this example from the prologue of Romeo and Juliet. Are you a science or social studies teacher? Why not call for students to summarize important historical events or moments of discovery using emojis?
Feedback Fun. The comment feature of Google Docs is a great way to provide meaningful feedback to students in real time. Why not up your feedback game with emojis to share your thoughts and reflections on students’ writing?
Smiley Strategies in Writing. When I was teaching middle school English, I encouraged students to use figurative language, challenging vocabulary words, and specific strategies for adding voice to their writing. I referred to these writing flourishes as “Smiley Strategies”. As students would write their drafts in my paper and pencil classroom (we are going back a few years), I had them add smiley faces in the margins of their work to indicate places where they took a chance with a new strategy. Not only did it make me aware of these compositional risks, but it helped the students identify the strategies in their own writing. Why not take the same idea and apply it to our in digital writing world? Have students highlight their writing risks and use emojis in the comment feature to indicate their use of these “Smiley Strategies.”
Google Classroom Questions. Post an open-ended question in Google Classroom and have students respond using emojis. Whether you are asking them to reflect on their learning or to use the icons to show agreement or disagreement as part of a class poll, emojis are a great way to get students to process their thinking and share in a new and innovative way.
Math Challenges. During a recent coaching visit, a math teacher (Thanks, Melanie!) introduced me to the idea of emoji algebra. Basically, the teacher shares a math problem that incorporates emojis to symbolize numbers and variables, and students have to use inductive reasoning and creative problem-solving skills to arrive at a solution. Just Google “emoji math”, and you will be shocked by the amount of emoji-based math problems that have been posted to sites like Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers. Why not create your own math puzzles and problems using emojis? Or, better yet, have students create their own problems to share with their peers.
Digital Exit Tickets. Have students use the emojis to gauge their understanding of a new topic. They can add the emoji as a comment to a shared Doc, on a note in Google Keep, or even as a comment of a post in the Google Classroom Stream.
We knew it was bound to happen. According to a recent study, more teens than ever are spending hour upon hour each day watching YouTube. In fact, for the first time ever, YouTube has edged out cable TV as one of their most watched platforms.
I can't say I blame them. YouTube is completely on-demand entertainment. It's what you want and when you want it. And, with all of the momentum YouTube is gaining, it's no wonder that more and more teachers are turning to YouTube in the classroom. It is a great way to engage students and meet them where they already are. So let's up our YouTube game. Let's up the fun . And let's up the transformational power of video with these 4 must-have YouTube tools:
4 Must-Have YouTube Tools
TubeChop Have you ever showed a video to your class, but realized later that the whole video wasn't really necessary? That you only needed to share a short clip? With TubeChop, there's no more sitting through irrelevant content and no more having to spend valuable class time fast forwarding or rewinding in order to find the perfect part. TubeChop brings you the exact content you want on your terms by allowing you to pull a clip from an existing YouTube video and creating its own link to share with your class.
AdBlock Plus Do you know those annoying commercials that start off popular YouTube videos? The ones that last for what seems like 30 minutes completely stalling your momentum and letting the air out of your lesson? Adblock plus gets rid of those annoying commercials once and for all. No more sitting and waiting for the commercial to end or listening to student giggles as a semi-inappropriate commercials starts off your educationally sound YouTube content. (Although, maybe there is something to be said for commercials and engagement. I once had a group of eighth grade boys completely mesmerized by what I was showing after a lead-in by a Victoria's Secret Runway show ad!) Adblock plus gets rid of those ads and gets your students watching the content you want right away.
GIFit! Perhaps you wanted to add a looping set of directions to show students how to do something new. Or maybe you just wanted to create a looping reminder of an important concept. GIFit! allows you to pull out a few seconds of any YouTube video and create a never-ending loop of content. You can then insert this GIF into a doc, slide or anywhere else where you want put digital content in order to give your students a visual and extra reinforcement.
Video Grabby Have you ever had those moments in class where you plan to show a YouTube video only to find that the Internet is down? You know those moments where you've had an amazing lesson plan, but because of a silly tech issue, you were forced to move onto Plan B. With video grabby, no more having to resort to that alternate plan. Video grabby allows you to download YouTube videos so that you do not need an Internet connection to access them.
As a staff development trainer in a 1:1 school district in New Jersey, one question that I field almost daily can be summed up in three little words: How Do I…? With so many resources and applications available, it’s no wonder teachers have trouble keeping track of the best tools for transforming instruction. This obvious teacher need became my call-to-action.
When I first took on the challenge of creating a catalogue of digital platforms, I turned to Google Docs to help me create a simple chart that would help teachers take the guesswork out of planning and doing. I received a lot of positive feedback from the teachers about having this “one stop” list of tools to help them transform learning. But, why stop there? While the Google Doc was informative, it lacked the “special something” of the other resources out there. (Seriously...have you ever seen the stuff created by Kasey Bell?) I found that using a creation tool like Piktochart could make even a simple list truly jump off the page. My end result? An eye-pleasing infographic to take the guesswork out of tech tools. Please feel free to share!
Jennifer Fischer is a former middle school English teacher, full-time instructional coach, and part-time edtech nerd, who strives to help next JENeration educators transform learning for all students.