I am excited to take part in my third #CLMOOC this summer. Our first make cycle is always about introducing ourselves, exploring our identity, and building community – exactly where I begin my own classes and how the Morehead Writing Project begins our summer institutes together. I believe quite emphatically that exploring who we are is an important exercise for humans and it is a really helpful place to begin any learning journey, so I have no probem creating new intros (even though my old intros litter the internet). I also believe quite strongly that community is important for learners in general and writers in particular, so I decided to focus my first make on only introducing myself while simultaneously preparing my own community-building assignment.
I usually like to start with #6words stories – for a whole lot of reasons: they are a low-stakes first writing assignment, they are fun and addictive, and I use them teach throughout the semester so we might as well start using them early! I am a big fan of six-word story posters and often had my students create their own Bitstrips avatars to illustrate their #6words stories (and used mine as a teaching tool. However, Bitstrips is no more (I know my Facebook feed will suffer as a result!) and since I teach with comics I thought it would be fun to begin by creating our own superhero avatar like I did here using the Marvel Superhero Creation Tool. I will invite my students to use other tools if they like or even draw their own or share avatars they have created for other contexts (such as a gaming universe). I want them to add their own #6words to their avatar by contemplating their particular superpower. My superhero is named Evangelista and I chose these #6words because I am a writing evanglist!
I have often found that discussing our superpowers and kryptonite are great icebreakers, but to build community we need to dig deeper and really get to know each other. For this I will challenge my students to select three artifacts (images, videos, or weblinks) to represent their answers to three important questions:
- Where we are from (our origin story)
- Where we are now (physically, mentally, lifestage etc.)
- Where we are going (our life goals and dreams)
We will assemble these artifacts into Me Museums on Blendspace. Over the years I have used a lot of different tools to support our Me Museums (a collection of artifacts about us!) from simple Powerpoint to Youtube videos created using PhotoStory or Powtoons. This summer I chose to use Blendspace for my graduate class and think I might use it again this fall as it is an easy tool to learn and use and allows for sharing a variety of artifacts — and the grid format works well for my prompt. I created this Me Museum to introduce myself to the CLMOOC community and it should work equally well for my fall classes. I like to introduce my students to tools early on that we will use again later in the semester and I like Blendspace for digital presentations although my students seem to love Powtoons – probably because it is enough like Powerpoint to feel comfortable.
We will then share our Me Museums in our class digital space and I will organize some sort of activity so we interact using our Me Museums. How do you introduce yourself to your students? How do you build community? What tools do you like to use to break the ice and build community?
Note: I created this Youtube playlist to introduce Me Museums to my students. Do you use Me Museums (or some variation) to break the ice and build community in your classroom?