As you may have already read, I am a military spouse and have had to move to new schools and districts 3 times in my 7 years of teaching. I have not been fortunate enough to use the same learning management system (LMS) at any location. That means I have had to learn new systems and recreate my course websites quite a few times. Each system has its pros and con's but they all do what they are supposed to... bridge the gap between the teacher, the classroom, and home.
Now lets fast forward to March 2020, Coronavirus shut down physical schooling overnight and we teachers had to adapt and learn quickly. I was very fortunate to teach in a county that had an emergency system in place, so the last 9 weeks of the school year consisted of me progress monitoring my students' work on a purchased learning platform with pre-created content. This made the chaos of this rapid transition VERY easy, but I lost the ability to do 95% of the things I love about my job, which is teaching my students my custom-created coursework and seeing them LOVE science!
I know that a lot of teachers were thrown into stressful "figure it all out on your own" situations and I can't imagine how hard that was. Although, from that chaos, there was a HUGE positive outcome that I think most educators can agree on. The chaos gave us outlets to come together virtually like never before, we shared, we innovated, and we all figured out to rise up and do better for ourselves and students. Enter "The Bitmoji Craze for Educators" Facebook group. This is an AMAZING group of loving and super talented educators that have blown my mind and allowed me to gain skills and confidence to share with you here. I did not know how to do much of this type of design and application prior to joining this group and with the help and guidance of the members, I feel like my teaching and communication skills have drastically shifted for the better. Please read my blog posts and watch my tutorials but know that you can also find all the help you need and more about how to get started and beyond by joining that wonderful and generous Facebook group.
Okay so let me get to the big idea. Using the ideas from creating a Bitmoji classroom, I have now created a personal classroom "website" that I can easily add to ANY LMS through an embed code now or in the future. I can send my "website" to any student or parent through an emailed link, or even add it to the description of my gradebook assignments. It is fun and easy to use, so student engagement increases, and "I couldn't find it" excuses decrease! This new "website" allows me to communicate with my students and post lessons, or for distance learning, post daily/weekly agendas with links to activities (Nearpod, Quizzizz, Google Forms, etc), articles, videos, and more. I can link resources, create reading libraries, game rooms and virtual field trips or any other URL I want them to see and use. All resources can be added and adjusted with a click of a mouse. The best part of this it... THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO UPLOADING OF NEW FILES and EVERY SINGLE CHANGE I MAKE TO MY "WEBSITE" AUTOMATICALLY UPDATES TO ALL LOCATIONS SHARED. WHOA!
So now, in my canvas course the county I currently teach in asks us to use, I just have to embed my site once and never touch it again. All links shared with parents and students will never need updating or re-sending. With a little bit of work creating my bitmoji classroom "website", I have gained hours of time not uploading, redistributing, and teaching students how to access or where to find my classroom resources. If I learn tomorrow that starting August our county is moving to Schoology, Google Classroom, or any other system to get by, I don't have to recreate anything. I just embed the same code into those platforms. And since, as of June 26, I have not heard anything about how we are moving forward, this brings me great peace of mind. I know whatever is thrown at me I will be able to teach and get information to my students the way I planned in a physical classroom or through distance learning!
Okay, are you excited? Let's get into the how to's of making this work for you! The below links will send you to different blog posts about using and creating Bitmoji classrooms and websites. I tried to set them up in a logical, sequential order, but you can move around based on your knowledge and comfort level. Again, I learned all of this from others, so if you are not finding what you are looking for, do a Google/YouTube search and I promise you will find others sharing this and more information! Click on the 1st tutorial post in the series listed below to get started today!