Reading is complicated. Students will invariably associate reading with books. Big, ugly books that are far too complicated to be enjoyed or understood. But reading, as a skillset, is far more broad than that.
When we read, we are inferring the intended meaning of its creator. We read sign posts, traffic lights and signals. These are everyday symbols that we decode and create meaning. These symbols aren’t designed to be enjoyed as a form of entertainment. Instead, they are useful to direct our behaviour and make our lives easier. The point here is that reading is an incredibly broad skillset that can be practised in a number of different ways.
Emojis stories are one way that we can practise reading and writing with symbols.
- Try out the following activity to get students thinking differently about symbols – starting with emojis.Present the following image to students. Provide them 10 seconds think time to consider what movie is being represented in the image.
2. Once students have cracked the answer, present the image for all to see. The movie being shown through the use of images is Cast Away.
3. Hopefully by this stage you have hooked in your class. They are excited to know the next one – especially if prizes are involved. Go through and present the next example with the answer. Try this one as an example.
4. Now is the time to pause and quiz student. “How could you possibly know that those emojis represented those films? At no point did I use the words “Cast Away” or “Independence Day“. Have students presents their thoughts and expect some broad responses. Hopefully, the responses you receive will allow you to lean towards the following ideas:
- The emojis represent an important moment within the film.
- We as the audience must infer using only images.
- The emojis represent ideas, characters and events.
Each of these ideas that allow you as the teacher to exploring an aspect of a students reading ability. I used this as a way to introduce a unit on visual techniques and picture books. It help frame some useful terminology, while connecting the ideas to what students already knew. When introducing a unit of study always start with accessing students prior knowledge. This will allow you to know what direction to take the learning and how to hook students into their learning in the future.
Feel free to provide additional examples, such as those below:
5. Now that students have been introduced to the central premise of the lesson, they are ready for independent practise. Below, I have outlined a differentiated activity that allows students of multiple abilities to challenges themselves and develop autonomy. Each chilli below represents a different level of difficult. Students choose their level of difficultly based on what they feel they can complete. However, as the teacher, you are able to encourage students based your relationships.
“Damien, you can definitely have a go a three chilli.”
“Sophie, you can have a go at two chillis. I know you can do it.”
Although you are providing a space where students can choose how much work they complete, you are still able to foster an environment where students want to thrive for more. Students are naturally competitive and will want to perform better than their friends.
Good luck with your emoji stories!