Are you a hands on learner? I know I am. When I see an idea that has a lot of potential in the educational setting, yet is out of my reach, I have to immerse myself with the concept before I can share it with others.
During this period of quarantine I have noticed the creative and collaborative spirit of educators. We all needed outlets to fill our time at home with meaningful work as well as stay connected with our colleagues both at school and beyond. I’ve enjoyed collaborating with instructional coaches around the globe through crowdsourcing projects, Twitter conversations and Facebook groups.
Recently I’ve been following the work of educators in a Facebook Group called Bitmoji Craze for Educators. I’ve marveled at the creativity and willingness to freely share from the 115,000+ members. They have been designing Bitmoji classrooms to be used in a variety of ways – both face-to-face and remotely.
As I watched their digital classrooms develop and come to life. I must say I missed being in the classroom. Potential abounds. Thoughts drifted back to my time as a classroom teacher and what I could have done with the concept.
And then it dawned on me! Instructional coaches could use this as well. We create learning opportunities for others. Why not create our own spaces! That thought took me down a BIG rabbit hole. HA! I found myself working in stages!
Stage 1: How do I do this?
I am am pretty well versed in Google Slides, but know I’ve probably only touched the surface with the features. As I mentioned above, I’m a member of the Bitmoji Craze for Educators FaceBook group. They have been freely sharing templates galore (there is really no reason to buy any – seriously!) I downloaded a few to study. I could tell they were working the Google slides in layers starting with the background. (Powerpoint or other presentation tools could be used as well.) Most of the other images used had transparent backgrounds. They were resized and either brought forward or backwards. Text boxes were added as well as customized Bitmojis. I set off for STAGE 2.
Stage 2: Just Play
Since the Google Slides I downloaded were my own copy (a forced copy) I simply added new slides and started to play around with my own design for a “Coaching Office”. I’m a 60’s girl. Think digital paper dolls or doll houses! What fun! I borrowed images in the shared slides and searched for some of my own. I found the process relaxing as I designed my ideal workspace complete with bookshelves and comfy seating for reflective dialogue with the teachers and instructional coaches I virtually coach.
This trial and error stage is important if you are going to eventually use the process with teachers. You’ll need to understand how to create spaces, where to find image and how to link resources That took me to my personal Stage 3.
Stage 3: What Images Should I Use?
Through my blogging adventure I’ve learned to be mindful of the images I use. I strive to use images that are free to use. My go to is either Pixabay or Canva. I decided make my coaching office using photos and vector graphics in Pixabay and the “Explore” feature in Google slides. I wanted to see if I could make an inviting image by just using free to use sources. I also decided to use book images and found those in Amazon and linked to the actual book. (These are affiliate links right now. Feel free to use or search for the books on Amazon yourself). Another possibility for images is to use the Advanced search features in Google and set to “free to use.” I found the vector graphics search option in Pixabay the easiest as many already have transparent backgrounds. There are other sources of free to use images.
In the notes sections of my slides (make your own copy here) I also indicated where I found the images for my own use and to show others it is possible to use free to use images.
Copyright is an important area to consider. I’m just leaving this link for your review. I will continue to be mindful of using images that are free to use – even it it takes a little more time or if the image I find isn’t exactly the one I really wanted to use. We are modeling what we would expect of students.
Here is my final coaching office! I’ve added books from many I admire in the coaching world! I’ve personalized with a picture of my sidekick pup who usually makes an appearance in my virtual coaching sessions as well as the little cardinal to remind me my mom is always watching over me. And of course, as Iowa State’s #1 fan (according to Jim Knight), I had to add a little sticker to show my school pride.
Stage 4: So how could the Bitmoji classroom be used by instructional coaches?
Teachers are linking all sorts of things to their slides for students. I’ve seen read alouds, videos to watch, articles to read, tutorials and more. This amazing file cabinet caught my eye on Twitter the other day! It will blow your mind as a organizational tool! I’ve also seen entire units of study developed like this one from Bobbi Hopkins, a 2nd grade teacher in Buffalo, New York. Can’t you just see working as a coach side-by-side with Bobbi in setting goals for the unit, co-constructioning, co-reflecting on how students are grasping the concept, etc… I am in awe of the creativity!
We don’t know what the future holds for school in the fall. Will we be face to face with our students? Or will we be teaching remotely. Or both? Time will tell. Even if we are F2F, many scenarios I’ve seen mention limited or no sharing of supplies. Therefore digital transfer of materials will probably become the norm. Using a singular platform like Google Slides (or other tools) can minimize the confusion for students, teachers, and parents as they navigate the bumpy terrain ahead.
The same will hold true for the resources Instructional Coaches share with teachers. As a professional learning facilitator, I use digital resources often. I think there are many uses for the Bitmoji concept for coaches. A few ideas for now … but chances are I’ll be sharing more later!
- Share Resources – Instead of coaching books like my example above you could link other books or articles. You could also link various videos you have found helpful on a topic teachers are studying. The possibilities are endless.
- Differentiate PD – I’m reminded of an old post I did on differentiating PD so that learners construct their own learning. I faciltated the session face-to-face. Teachers constructed their own learning around several customized topic areas they wanted to learn more about. I reworked one station. The example in the forced copy here. When you share your slide (see below) with teachers the links would be available. The slide would serve as a step-by-step guide to construct learning around a specific strategy or tool being studied – in this case Non-Linguistic Representations. Again, the possibilities are endless. What is an area of study teachers are working on at your school? Could a Bitmoji Professional Learning Room facilitate the learning. Outside collaboration tools could be linked such as Padlet, Flipgrid, IdeaBoardz, Google Meet or Zoom links, ClassroomScreen, DotStorming, and many others! Keeping everything filed in one area.
- Coaching Tools – Again, the slides could house such tools as coaching menus, a link to your schedule, reflection tools, school based websites used, etc… When I was a coach in a building I used Symbaloo. Teachers loved the way all their resources could be in one area – a great time saver! A Bitmoji could customize the information creative manner.
Stage 5: Share the Love
I’ve been watching teachers near and far create classrooms. Now it is your turn! I want to see Instructional Coaching possibilities. In the copy of the sides I’ve shared, I’ve included the slide below with a few quick resources to help get you started. Please share your ideas with either the #educoach or #coachwithconfidence hashtag – or both. Tag me in your images!
Tips I’ve received from teachers is to be mindful that rooms don’t get too cluttered. Less is more. While it is easy to get caught up in over decorating – it can be distracting the learners (both students and adults).
If you join the Bitmoji Craze for Educators watch for ideas that interest you and save them in a Facebook folder. One idea I loved was how a teacher (Melissa Beth) made a Bitmoji for each student. She basically did this by having them fill out a Google form (she shared in the FB group) of the features students wanted to include in their own Bitmoji. She created a separate account from her own (not for each student) and then changed the features, copied there Bitmoji and then recreated another using the next students self-selected features. Giving students the choice in their personal features was such a wonderful touch!
Summer is a great time to immerse ourselves in new learning – especially this summer when we find ourselves spending more time at home. On beautiful days like today I find myself enjoying the cool breezes on my deck. On rainy days – my favorite comfy chair or my dining room table that faces my little gardens.
Get creating! I apologize if I led you down the Bitmoji rabbit hole. Remember to share your ideas for how Instructional Coaches can use with the #educoach and #coachwithconfidence hashtags. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
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