Guest Blog By Brigid Duncan
Icons Are Everywhere
You see them in coffee shops, stores, and supermarkets. And now you can use them in your online digital classroom! What are these icons and why use them? Icons have been used in many public spaces, and they are quite functional, as you can say so much by using just an image.
Simplicity & Speed of Information
Gen Z is the most technology savvy generation. These kids were born into a world that already used technology for completion of work jobs and tasks. Take a quick glance at their phones and you will see a plethora of app icons. Everything from streaming videos, to paying bills, to turning on the AC thermostat; all daily activities are done using digital apps represented by icons. So how can we connect this to our online classrooms?
Use of icons can assist in everything, from highlighting agendas, deadlines for a task, watching a YouTube video, to clicking on a scheduled Zoom meeting. These small graphical images, with few words, spark their curiosity to engage in a task. Icons simplify our students’ tasks and allows for maximum success in our unit assessments.
The key is repetition and functionality. Referring to the above graphic, some of my favorite icons used on my Canvas LMS homepage are the alarm clock for deadlines, the hand holding a pen as an assignment, the check mark to represent task completion before moving on to the next one. The popcorn bucket is used to state it is time to watch a video. The emoji with his hand on his chin means it is time to write a reflection. There are so many more icons you can share and repeat in your tasks for students to complete in weekly lessons. This not only helps students, but it also helps parents who have become our team teachers in our extended classroom away from school.
Icons Can Help with Formative Assessments
Did you know that not only are icons great for organization and staying on task for completion, but they are also great formative assessment tools? Think of the retro game Pictionary and fast forward to today and use icons to ask students to “draw an image or images that you think best represents the themes in this novel.” The formative assessment here is when students use or illustrate particular icons to represent the themes. For example, to demonstrate the knowledge of the theme "compassion and revenge", he/she can draw an icon with two hands holding a heart for compassion and use an icon of a knife piercing a heart for revenge. Students really have to know what the themes are and which icons to use to answer the questions correctly. This makes for a fun and excellent formative assessment!
Find FREE Icons
Are you ready to use icons in your online classroom? Great news as many websites offer these icons for free: The Noun Project, Flat Icons, and Auto Draw (just to name a few). If you use the Google Chrome extension, many are available there for free as well. Perfect to use on Google Jamboard, Google slides and just about anywhere you facilitate your online learning classroom. So have fun and add some icons to your lesson planning and join the bandwagon for Icons..Icons…Everywhere! Your students and parents will appreciate seeing them there on work tasks.
About the Author
Ms. Brigid Duncan is an AP Econ/Business instructor teaching high school in Hollywood, Florida. Originally from the Caribbean, she pursued a career in advertising and marketing before transitioning to teaching. She is Mom to three wonderful and energetic teenagers and enjoys being creative, especially in graphic design. Favorite quote: “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not’?” – George Bernard Shaw. Follow her journey into education at @MsBDuncan.