Sometimes, resources shared with teachers can take on a life of their own. At a recent training session focusing on implementing the technology standards for students, I shared a site called “Build Your Wild Self.” I learned about this site from reading Kevin Jarrett’s blog. Kevin is an amazing technology teacher in the Nothfield school district. He proposed using the site for creating avatars (digital representations of a person) and for learning about science.
The site is sponsored by New York Zoos and Aquarium and the Wildlife Conservation. It allows students to create a digital picture of themselves. They can go further and create a “wild image” that contains various animal body parts. The site then goes on to explain how these adaptations actually help the animal.
I originally taught teachers to use the site to create avatars for their students to use with a product called Voicethread, a wonderful collaborative web 2.0 tool that allows multiple people to comment on a document using a microphone. Brian Dunn, a n innovative 5th grade teacher, taught his students to use these avatars in voicethread as they posted on blogs for a literature circle project. For instance, one student reading Mansion in the Mist posted this blog entry where he uploaded a picture related to the chapter of the novel and commented about it. As you view the post, you can see the avatars of various people who commented on his entry including his teacher, the school librarian, and other students.
Although this was my original plan for using the “Build Your Wild Self” site, I learned that some staff members used it as a springboard for a writer’s notebook entry. Teachers have brought their class down to the lab and let their students “go wild.” After they completed their picture, they learned about the animal adaptations they had chosen. Finally, they went back to the classroom to write an entry about the experience in their writer’s notebooks.
It is exciting for me to see how teachers take resources and use them in a variety of ways to meet their individual needs.