Now that we are in our seventh week of distance learning (hard to believe we have been at it this long!) and with the announcement here in Ontario that we will not be returning back to school this academic year, I have been reflecting on the things that I have been doing to create a library presence online. Recording read-alouds has been successful, as well as having teachers add me to their digital classrooms so I can collaborate and contribute to student learning. I post frequently on Twitter about different resources the library has to offer and retweet other library related news. Now more than ever though, I want to keep pushing the envelope. What else could I possibly do to keep our library presence online alive and well during this time? I am sure you have seen the new phenomenon of the Bitmoji Classroom popping up all over Instagram and Twitter. I do not know who came up with this idea, but it has definitely taken off like wildfire, and I must say, I am loving everything about them!
I think these Bitmoji environments are a great way to continue connecting virtually with students. They are also so much fun! From a library perspective, not only can you provide access to databases for research and ebooks, but you can also include recorded read-alouds, museum exhibits, and fun activities led by authors and illustrators! Once I started to see other library technicians in my school board starting to create their own Bitmoji classrooms/libraries, I knew this was something I also wanted to do. This was going to be my next step in continuing that virtual connection of our library.
There are so many tutorials available online, but this is the one I used to help me get started:
This tutorial helps you accomplish the following:
- How to create your Bitmoji and add it to your digital classroom/library
- How to add a background
- Adding furniture, wall art, etc.
- How to add videos
- Adding links
Saving & Sharing Your Bitmoji Library
I found the above tutorial extremely helpful as it walked me through step-by-step how to develop my entire Bitmoji Library. What this tutorial did not help me with though was how to save it and make it accessible or shareable. With some help from my colleagues, here were my next steps in order to make that happen:
After I got my TinyUrl, I was then able to share my Google PDF with others via Twitter. You can also take your TinyURL and embed it into online classrooms! I know many librarians that are doing this and are now presenting their recorded read-alouds through this format.
Links Used in my Bitmoji Library
Here is a closer look at what I decided to link to my digital library:
- PebbleGo – Linked this icon to the PebbleGo database (students require login and password to access).
- The Virtual Museum of Canada – Access to virtual exhibits from Canada’s museums and heritage organizations.
- Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems – Join author/illustrator Mo Willems as he takes you step-by-step in how to doodle!
- Sorting Hat – Linked to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour The Making of Harry Potter in London, England. This link allows you to explore the tour, from sets, costumes, props, and more!
- Mickey Mouse Ears – Enjoy the magic of Disney right in your home by watching virtual fireworks in front of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort.
- Scholastic BookFlix – Linked this icon to the Scholastic BookFlix database (students will require login and password to access).
- Teen BookCloud – Linked this icon to the Teen BookCloud database (students require login and password to access).
- Storyline Online – Streams videos that feature actors reading children’s books.
- TumbleBooks Library – linked this icon to the TumbleBooks Library (students require login and password to access).
- Haunted Canada Road Trip with Joel A. Sutherland – Author Joel A. Sutherland takes readers on a virtual road trip through some of Canada’s most haunting locations!
- The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins – This book’s website has a recording of the first chapter, which is read by Suzanne Collins herself.
- Chicken, Pig, Cow by Ruth Ohi – In my actual Bitmoji Library, I linked to the specific story I wanted by Ruth Ohi, but here, I have linked her video page so you can browse the other stories she has recorded.
- The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson – This recorded read-aloud is done by the former First Lady, Michelle Obama.
- That’s Not Hockey! by Andrée Poulin – This recorded read-aloud is done by the author of the book. Just as a side note, if you look at the playlist this video is a part of, the Ontario Library Association has recordings of all the books that were nominated for the Blue Spruce award available.
- Bulletin Board – I made this a communication board of sorts, where I linked to my library Twitter account, my email, my school’s website, and to our board’s library services website.
Other helpful websites I used:
Here is a copy of a template I made for my Bitmoji Library that others can use. Be careful when you are copying the slide that you do not delete anything. This way, others can also copy the slide and use it as a jumping-off point to make their own Bitmoji library: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1h43vw8PbdOuBRCyy1sn7zSdeld16B2YuZpH7xw81qRQ/edit?usp=sharing
Other Helpful Tidbits
Time: It took me about 4-5 hours to create my Bitmoji Library from start to finish. Do not let the length of time discourage you from making one though! Yes, it took up most of my work day, but now that all the ground work is done, it is easy to make changes and add things to it. Think of it this way: for a day’s worth of work, you can have something that will be up and running for weeks. To me, this was worth the time.
Ideas & Inspiration: If you search the hashtag #BitmojiLibrary either via Twitter or Instagram, there are not many examples out there, but there are some that can help get you started. There are definitely more Bitmoji Classrooms out on the market, so make sure to have a look at the #BitmojiClassroom hashtag too for more ideas to inspire your library!
I have been trying to keep myself inspired and motivated during this time of distance learning. Even trying to do the little things like getting up early, doing my hair and makeup, wearing something other than my pyjamas, having an afternoon coffee break where I make myself a pretend Starbucks latte – it’s these small things that have made all the difference. Taking time to create a Bitmoji Library was by no means a small thing, but to my own well-being, I found it therapeutic and it was a creative outlet that I did not know I needed this week.