It was AWEsome!
And, it all started with an avatar.
When Shannon asked me to show her kids how I create my avatars, I knew I wanted to talk about why avatars are cool, in general. I am a big fan of avatars. Whether working with kids or adults, I love to provide learners with the opportunity to create an avatar that can be used to share things about themselves. Plus, I think for kids (and adults) who are sometimes self-conscious or have more serious issues related to body image, self-esteem, etc., avatars provide an opportunity to focus on the stuff about ourselves that we like, while also revealing other aspects of our personality or while sharing things that we value. (But don't take my word for it, smarter people than me have written about this very thing here. And here too.)
And the kids got it right away.
With zero prompting from me, they defined an avatar as a character that is made up of stuff that "looks like you" and that "you think is cool." I could not have put it better myself. AND they easily picked out examples of both in my avatars, which was just so much fun.
It's not about the tool.
|Partially finished zombie librarian in Art Studio.|
Look at it this way, when you go out to dinner at your favorite restaurant, the fork isn't the thing you remember most. When it comes to teaching, the same should be true about the tool or technology. Like a fork or spoon, the app or website is only the vehicle through which we create or access the awesome. What really nourishes us, is the instruction. The lessons we learn are what lasts - not the tool that got us there.
In this case, it was super rewarding to talk to kids about avatars and to show them how after 40ish years of envying those who were able to draw with a pen/pencil, an avatar helped me unlock my inner artist.
There are some tools that helped us connect today. And they are:
Art Studio: an app for iPad that I use to draw things like avatars and zombies.
Reflector: an app for either Mac or PC that I used to mirror my display on my computer.
Google+ Hangouts: this is how we connected. Plus, I used the screen share feature to show the kids my computer screen (which, because I was also using Reflector) allowed me to show them what I was doing on my iPad.
Google+ Hangouts on Air: this is how Shannon live streamed and recorded our lesson.
And, of course, the library is the perfect place for this meaningful work to take place.
For as long as there have been books, librarians have used literature to help kids celebrate differences, see the beautify in the unusual and know that when given a choice, they should always choose kind. To me, this work is just a branch from the same tree.
|PLNs = no longer optional.|
So... big, big thanks to Shannon and the 5th grade students at Van Meter. I had a blast learning and sharing with you on "Talk Like A Pirate Day!" And I can't wait to see all the avatars you create. Go Bulldogs!
**My pal Gwyneth Jones created an amazing list of digital avatar creators that cannot be beat. If you're looking for a way to engage learners in this kind of activity, or you want to create your own avatar, this is an excellent place to start!