Emoji Mania in English Language Arts
So, when I’m not doing ed-techy stuff, I teach Grade 7 ELA. I really like teaching reading and writing; adolescents are old enough to read some pretty cool books and they’re really beginning to find their voices as writers!
However, as writers, there are a number of things that my students do that drive me nuts! You might recognize these triggers yourself! You know, the lower-case “i” for “I” and “u” for you. Or what about “4” for?! Have you ever read “i hope u like my paragraph” at the end of a piece of writing?! AARGH! And then, to add insult to injury, they tack on a few emojis!
So, why do they do this? While I am convinced that there are one or two of them that do it to drive me crazy, most of them do it because in their daily lives this is how they communicate! And really, I guess I do, too, when I’m texting, engaging in social media or sending casual emails!
As a Language Arts teacher, part of my job is teaching my students how to communicate effectively. And how to communicate in a variety of settings and ways. Can they write an effective paragraph? A moving poem? A gripping story? What about a proper letter? A passionate speech? All important ways of communicating, to be sure!
But in our increasingly digital world, I’ve come to realize that I also need to help them understand how to communicate digitally. Do they know how to send an email to a boss and how that might be different from sending an email to a friend (what a minute…do kids actually even email each other?) What about emojis? Should I teach them how and why to use emojis?
So, after Spring Break, I decided to spend a bit of time honouring the way the kids mostly communicate. Enter Emoji Mania! The first assignment we did when we got back from break was to write a paragraph about what we did over the break. The twist was that they had to use emojis in place of words as much as they could. I had them build their paragraphs in Google Slides because it’s easier to move things around in slides instead of docs.
Once they understood the assignment they were hard at work and there was a buzz of excitement in the room. I didn’t tell them how to get the emojis into their paragraphs as I wanted to see how resourceful they would be and…they figured out a whole bunch of hacks and workarounds! However, for you, here are two quick ones! On a MacBook, after you’ve created the text box, click Control-Command-Spacebar. (Or just copy and paste them out of Messenger.) On a pc, go to www.copycharacters.com, click on emojis and just copy and paste from there.
Here is one of the paragraphs – see if you can figure out what is being said!
After writing, the kids really enjoyed going around and trying to read each other’s paragraphs. I guess, given how often they use emojis, it’s not surprising that they were better than me at it!