Who Am I? #CLMOOC Make Cycle #1

All, CLMOOC, Teaching, Writing

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?

9 comments

  • I had forgotten about the 6 word story–that’s such a nice and pretty easy way to get people to really boil down something about themselves they’d like to use to introduce themselves. And combining it with a superhero is a good way to get people to think about the things they are good at, or care about, or are trying to achieve.

    I noticed that you used to use a tool that no longer exists, and that you’re using a new one for the Me Museum that I haven’t seen before. I notice that there are a lot of these kinds of tools that come and go…it feels like I learn a new one and then it disappears. Are you able to get data out of the ones that disappeared, or still use the information from them in some way, after they go? That’s my main concern about using new tools; I want to make sure I don’t lock things into a platform that will disappear and take what I’ve created with it!

    • That is the danger – tool atrophy or extinction. Sometimes they warn you and give you time to get your things but not always. I do have bios and things all over the internet because I am a tool groupie…always checking out the shiny new thing.

      • I completely understand the desire to try out all the shiny new things! 🙂

        I love doing that too. Sometimes I worry about investing too much in them b/c of tool extinction. But just playing, and making sure I don’t expect stuff to last forever, it’s fine!

  • Our first assignment in my freshman speech class is a speech about the origins of our names…either the historical origins or the family meaning. It really gets into who we are, when we talk about names. I can see using the “Museum of Me” and making student tour guides for themselves or for each other, if they did a digital product and then shared with each other. Lots of stuff here to think about! Thanks for such a rich post!

  • Thank you for this! I have a similar face-to-face personal museum assignment where students write a collection of artifact essays and then present them. It’s great to see a digital model for this.

    • I first got the idea from our Writing Project summer institute but when we started our online summer institute had to come up with a digital version — been working on it for years.

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