Teach With INFOhio

Using INFOhio Resources to Give the Gift of Literacy

Author // Matt Yauk Monday, 14 December 2020

Monday Mini Lessons Model Remote Teaching Best Practices

INFOhio provides resources and web tools at no cost to all Ohio's teachers. Articles, videos, eBooks, and learning modules are available to use in lesson plans and learning activities. To support educators integrating digital content into instruction and remote teaching, INFOhio has created Monday Mini Lessons—videos that showcase best practices for remote teaching using INFOhio's high-quality, digital content.  

Monday Mini Lessons focus on strategies educators need to connect with and engage students during this time of social distancing. These model lessons are practical approaches with learned best practices to support the use of digital content in instruction whether face-to-face or virtual. You can learn more about how to use and navigate INFOhio’s resources and web tools in INFOhio Learning Pathways, just one option for flexible PD from INFOhio Campus

December's mini lesson focus is on literacy. In this lesson, you'll see an example of a "Bitmoji Classroom," or an interactive, clickable image, that includes holiday and winter-themed stories, activities, and other resources that you can share with students, parents, and teachers to create a gift of literacy for learners of all ages. Watch the lesson below to start exploring:


The Gift of Literacy

With the winter break and holiday season fast approaching, consider ways that you can encourage teachers and parents to spread the love and interest in reading. The Teach With INFOhio blog, Give the Gift of Reading This Season, and webinar, Give the Gift of Reading With INFOhio’s Digital Texts and eBooks, shared some recommended practices and strategies, including:

  • Read together as a family.
  • Share stories that remind children of the importance of kindness, friendship, imagination, and giving.
  • Read books that celebrate the season.
  • Let readers choose the books to share and take turns reading.
  • Visit your public library with your family.
  • Consider giving a book as a gift for each member of the family.

As seen in the mini lesson, a number of relevant stories, videos, articles, coding activities, worksheets, recipes, and crafts can be found in our Bitmoji classroom (available below). Feel free to copy this template and add your own avatar or Bitmoji, scene, and linked materials to fit your needs. Other possibilities for inclusion in a holiday or winter-themed digital library include:

The Best Practices for Digital Reading document highlights research-based strategies for reading on the screen, while our Teach With INFOhio blog contains additional ideas and recommended practices for integrating digital text.

Using Bitmojis in the Classroom

Graphics in learning can help inform, persuade, and even engage students (see Graphics for Learning: Proven Guideline for Planning, Designing, and Evaluating Visuals in Training Materials for more). The use of a Bitmoji library or classroom can provide agency in the learning process and can be an effective method to relay a collection of seemingly disconnected resources and links into a single visual. In addition to curating resources on a topic, here are a few more suggested uses for Bitmojis in learning, with more seen in the lesson video above and presentation below:

  • Recreate your physical classroom in the online space with links to your most used tools or materials.
  • Construct a choice board to allow student autonomy within a unit or project.
  • Create a visual syllabus for your class, highlighting key information and details.
  • Build a virtual field trip with link to videos, information, or 360 VR tours (like this visit to the aquarium).
  • Set up a gallery walk of student work to share with parents and administrators.
  • Inject your teacher presence (and personality) into the online space.

Building a Scene

Here are a few recommendations from the many articles available on creating Bitmoji classrooms to help you get started:

Open this presentation to jumpstart your Bitmoji scene (opens in new window).

Important Considerations

All well-intentioned efforts to help and engage students should be praised. However, there are potential downsides to using this type of teaching material. To help inform your practice, here are a few things to think about while creating Bitmoji-infused materials.

First, accessibility of the document by all learners is critical. Be sure that all learners with diverse needs, including those with visual or physical impairments, can interact with the content presented. Can you navigate through the document/graphic by using only the keyboard, such as the Tab key to cycle through links and the Enter key to open them? Is this also true of the materials you're linking? Do you have the ability to include "alt text" or captions on graphics, which a screen reader can use to describe the image? Do the colors and graphics have enough contrast to be easily visible? If you consider all abilities, all learners will benefit.

Next, consider the cognitive load and design of your interactive graphic. The research-based principles of multimedia learning states that people learn better when extraneous material is excluded and advises to not use decorative imagery that doesn't add to the desired outcome, as it increases a learner's extraneous cognitive load. Catharyn Shelton writes on Edutopia.org that, "Bitmoji classrooms can easily get littered with stuff, making it difficult for students to focus on what matters. How can you cut the clutter and include meaningful imagery? When deciding what objects to include, ask yourself: Do objects in my classroom represent my values, background, and culture as an educator and as a person?"

Finally, consider how much time you're willing to invest in the creation of a Bitmoji scene. Making them can be fun and aid in student learning and engagement. However, if you're not clear in your instructional purpose up front, the task can spiral out of control and increase the amount of work, and time, you ultimately put into the product. Time is valuable as an educator—even more so during the pandemic when having to juggle increased demands at work, home, and social life. Before starting your own Bitmoji classroom, keep the focus on student learning, consider your teaching objectives and the alternative ways to achieve them.

Monday Mini Lessons will continue throughout the school year, focusing on new themes and practical applications for your teaching practice, using INFOhio's licensed digital content. If you have questions or comments, we are here to help! Please contact us at support.infohio.org.

About the Author

Posted by: Matt Yauk

Matt Yauk is a Senior Instructional Specialist with INFOhio. He is a certified educator who has worked as a Business and Technology teacher in the middle and high school settings and as an educational technologist, instructional designer, and academic technology director for The Ohio State University (OSU). He has a B.S. in Education: Technical Education and Training from OSU, a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: Instructional Design and Technology from University of Cincinnati, founded the Learner Engagement Division within the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), and co-authored a chapter in the Handbook of Distance Education (4th edition) called "Trends and Directions in Continuing Professional Development." The positive impact on student learning and educator development has always been his primary focus.

Matt Yauk
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