This year I chose the word Energize. Energize. Every time I say it I think of Star Trek and imagine myself standing on the teleporter pad barking the command “Energize!” If only it were that easy.
It’s not a mystery. With a toddler and a three month old baby at home I don’t have much energy because I don’t sleep much. Let’s face it, I never exercise and I’m usually eating the dinner I made for my toddler (because why would she eat it?) one-handed while I rock/bounce/jiggle/sway the baby with the other. Most of my energy comes from coffee and my own tears as I pull gobs of post-partum hair from my head wondering if I’m doomed to a life of wearing hats.
There are some things that are beyond my control such as whether my baby sleeps through the night or whether I’ll be forced to attend a late night bouzouki party with Greek family. But little things like making choices that give me energy are with in my control and so I’d like to start there.
Energize my body with good food and activity, whatever I can get.
Energize my mind with interesting books, media, and conversation.
Energize my heart with kind actions towards others.
Energize my colleagues by helping them find what they need to have a joyous day.
Energize my hair with all natural vitamins, snake oil, and magic.
Blogging and providing my students an authentic audience of their peers and the world has been one of the most significant practices I’ve employed in the last few years. As we’ve nurtured young bloggers we’ve made a commitment to our students and their families to keep kids safe online as they share their thinking and learning with the world.
We do that in a number of ways, but one practice we employ is to never post a child’s name and image in the same context. This is a simple way to add a layer of security to work that students share online. We teach this to kids as young as kindergarten and model safe sharing practices from day one. As we engage in conversations about what is shared online, who has access to work and how long it “stays” online, we lay a foundation for digital citizenship that we build upon across the years.
A number of blogging platforms that are available to students have a place for kids to display a picture of themself as the author of the blog. For developing readers and writers this image helps students quickly sort and locate their classmates’ blog. For older learners this image is another piece that signals the blog belongs to them. Many classrooms design their own avatars using an avatar creation tool like Gravatar or Voki. I prefer to invite students to create their own avatars using a simple drawing tool.
First, have students take a selfie. Then import the photo into a drawing app like Doodle Buddy or Drawing Pad. Both apps have the option to use a photo from the camera roll as a background image or piece of paper. Once the child’s photo is set as the paper, teach students to use it as a coloring sheet and select crayons, markers or colored pencils to draw over their image. Sometimes referred to as image stamping, this practice invites students to represent a likeness of themselves while also protecting their true identity. More so, it invites our kids to create–and when students are creating learning is personalized and differentiated, and most importantly, fun!
Once we’ve taught kids how to create an avatar and use photos as coloring pages they can transfer this practice across the curriculum as they represent their work and the work of others in this protected fashion. Students can use famous pieces of art, favorite book characters and photos they’ve shot in class as background templates for their drawings.
In one simple lesson we engage students in creation, representation and digital citizenship. Best of all, its easy and fun so try it tomorrow and let us know what you think!