Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

Jamestown Bitmoji Project with @MatthewFarber

Jamestown Bitmoji Project with @MatthewFarber
Jamestown Bitmoji Project with @MatthewFarber

Jamestown project Bitmoji Project with @MatthewFarber

Creative Project Ideas with Matthew Farber

Matthew Farber (author of “Gamify Your Classroom“) shared with me a project his student did using Bitmoji’s to represent the story of Jamestown. This project hits many of the things I value:

  • Integrates technology, not just uses tech.
  • Uses real things that students can relate to.
  • Provides choice.
  • Allows students to be creative.
  • Asks students to communicate their ideas.
  • Lowered fear of risk taking by not having all the elements graded.
  • All students are doing different things.
  • Allow students to figure things out.
  • Values what kids value. The design of the lesson incorporates student interests such as Bitmoji.

The Assignment

This is the assignment Matthew posted in his Google Classroom:

Storyboarding Jamestown:

Storyboards are how movie directors plan before filming scenes. Every shot gets drawn, including camera angles and close-ups, as well as special effects sequencing. Storyboards bear similarities to graphic novels, like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World or The Walking Dead. Unlike comics, the action and dialogue are usually described below the picture. As a model, view the following short video about storyboarding Pixar’s Toy Story:

YouTube video


YOUR ASSIGNMENT: Pixar is updating Disney’s Pocahontas to be more accurate and you are one of the storyboard artists (artwork is not graded). Review and take notes from the book, Jamestown’s historical website, or this Prezi: http://tinyurl.com/JamestownPrezi.

Your notes will be used to create a storyboard on the events of Jamestown that ultimately led to its success as the first English Colony in the New World! You can draw it using Storyboards given in class, use Storyboard That, or even Bitmoji on your phones.

Additional Information

Matthew shared the background of Pixar’s creative approach. It stemmed from co-founder Ed Catmull’s book Creativity, Inc., in which directors show “dailies” (completed filmed sequences) to the “Braintrust” — a small group of directors from previous Pixar projects. The Braintrust gives “notes,” or feedback to help the scene become the best it can be.

None of this project was assigned as homework. The assessment was on how the student presented the story sequence, as well as overall neatness and grammar. Artistic ability did not play into the grade. When students asked about art quality, they were informed them that the art department at Pixar would be rendering their drawings, and that they should focus on framing their shots to tell a compelling sequence. What’s more, Matthew emphasized that he did do not want students’ parents going to Michael’s or Hobby Lobby to buy fancy paper or stickers. The project is a prototype — not a finished work — to be pitched to the class, just like in the Pixar video clip. The pitches are not graded; it’s part of the simulation of what people do at work: Sell ideas and offer feedback as a creative team.

The workflow included Google Classroom, Google Docs, Bitmoji, Prezi, and more. Matthew embedded the unit’s content on a Prezi, making it meaningful — not a rote list. He went as far as suggesting that students use Snapchat’s face swap filter, adding themselves into historical images. Although no one took him up on it, students began to think of their favorite apps differently. After all, if students have smartphones, why not use it to do more than type on a Google Docs? Why not take advantage of the affordances of that mobile devices invite?

Moving fast in the lesson, Matthew instituted an “ask 3, then me policy.” This prompted students to figure things out on their own. Student work was shared as comments on Google Classroom.

Class Time

This project took just 3 class periods, broken up by one day for 20% Time/Genius Hour projects on the election process. Students selected which part of the Jamestown story to retell, and the medium with which to present it. For students with writer’s block, a set of Rory’s Story Cubes was used.

Bitmoji Project

Two student projects were completed in Bitmoji. One of the students was Kyle S — a 7th grader. Because all the students’ projects were different, the projects were tracked on Google Sheets.

Gamify Your Classroom: A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning

I’ve been a long time fan of Matthew Farber. Please check out his book
Gamify Your Classroom: A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning
farber gamify your classroom book

Jamestown project

Jamestown project

Additional Student Project

Hannah L submitted her Bitmoji storyboard via text message.

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