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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Using Avatars to Teach Internet Safety

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 Using educationally appropriate online tools with students opens up a world of possibilities, but it's important to communicate a clear and consistent message about Internet safety every time you introduce a new tool. If students hear about Internet safety often enough, hopefully they will start thinking about it themselves.

Creating an avatar is a really great way to teach students to protect their identities on the Internet. Avatars provide students with a safe way of representing themselves while also providing opportunities for creative writing experiences. So why not start out the school year with this simple but powerful learning opportunity?

A good idea for a lesson is to start by asking students to create an avatar of their own, complete with a pen name. After that, students can be challenged to write a narrative from the avatar's point of view, without giving out any personal information. The final student products can be published or turned into a podcast and the avatars and pen names can be  used when students contribute to wikis, blogs, glogs and more.

Suggested tools to choose from:

BuildYourWildSelf.com
This kid-friendly cool tool was certainly the most popular choice among innovative D97 teachers this summer. Users can release their creative spirits and go wild as the title suggests. As an added bonus, no login is required . Find out what some of our very own teachers had to say about this tool, see examples of avatar stories created by some teachers and a student, and also take a peek at the avatars themselves by viewing a VoiceThread they created.

ReasonablyClever.com
If your students are Lego fans, this tool is a good choice. This block-head iconizer is as simple as can be and it is appropriate for the youngest students.

DoppelMe.com
This popular tool provides users with plenty of choices to create a unique and attractive avatar; however, teachers this summer were a bit weary about the use of fig leaves as clothing on the generic model. This is bound to cause students to giggle and also spark some conversation, so please do check out DoppelMe for yourself before you decide to use it.

View VoiceThread: Using Avatars to Teach Internet Safety

Updated: 3/2011 - Get a complete lesson plan. Go to my Cool Tools wiki.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back To School: Cool Tools Preview

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It's time to get back to school, which means it's time for me to start blogging regularly about Cool Tools again. I spent a good chunk of my summer using cool tools with fabulous teachers who were eager to use the tools in innovative ways. We discovered that the tools are indeed easy to use, but perhaps the most difficult part of using them is to identify the safest and most effective way to use them with students. It's all about management and there is a lot to consider when choosing appropriate online tools for education.

Before I start blogging about each of these tools, I'd like to point out that I have created a home for information about Cool Tools with management tips on my website, just to keep things organized. I've named this section Online Tools.

Since I haven't wordled even once this summer, I've decided to create a Wordle to kick off the new school year with a sneak peak of the Cool Tools I will be blogging about early this fall.












Go to the Online Tools section of my website.


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