I teach elementary and middle school technology at Charles Wright Academy, and I feel fortunate to have found a job that combines so many things I love doing and thinking about: teaching, working with kids, creativity, design, technology, and media literacy. I love it.

I think it’s important for kids to understand how design, media, and technology work because that knowledge: 1. (as a consumer) enables them to see the world as it is, rather than the way it’s designed and mediated to seem, and 2. (as a producer) empowers them with tools to be proactive about the direction of their lives, rather than surrendering to whatever path they feel has been set out for them.

I’m rebuilding this page. More projects on the way.

4th grade Emoji & Representation

Inspired by a lesson from the Association for Media Literacy.

Students choose their Emoji Name (a series of six emoji) and play a game to guess each others’. Then, they choose one emoji that looks most like them, and we use their choices to discuss representation: Are you satisfied with the emoji you had to choose from? What emoji would you add or change to represent you better?

We discuss the story of the German girl who proposed the Woman with Headscarf emoji and students consider: Who else might feel that they aren’t represented by the emoji they have to choose from?

Noting the fact that anyone can propose a new emoji to Unicode, students generate ideas for a new emoji that would better represent someone else and create a mockup to share their ideas.

Family with Three Kids / Face with Braces / Basketball Player in Wheelchair

Collection nicknames from my students: Mr. Spa-new-new, Mr. Sparantinto, Joe Asparagus, Mr. Joe Froyo, Joe Spara-no (“it rhymes!”), Spicy Oregano, Stringbean, Greenbean, Mr. Spara-n-n-no Pota-t-t-to.

Updated July 2, 2020.