Education On Trend: Oak Cliff’s Momentous School Launches Bitmoji Classrooms for Virtual Learning

Teachers at the Momentous Institute's pre-K through fifth-grade laboratory school are creating virtual classrooms complete with Bitmoji avatars to bring life to remote learning. Now two of its teachers have created a playbook for others.

Teachers at Momentus School, a pre-K to 5th grade school specializing in social emotional health, took their team photo this year with Bitmojis. [Courtesy of Momentous Institute]

The Momentous School is joining in on a trend rising nationwide: Bitmoji classrooms. 

It’s a trend that’s “sweeping the nation,” say teachers at the Oak Cliff private school that’s designed as a laboratory for learning. But most importantly, the cartoon avatars created through the popular Bitmoji app can play an an important role in creating “a socially emotionally healthy classroom.”

Bitmojis can bring life to the classroom, according to two Momentous teachers, Ashley Tant and Katherine Probolus. It was thinking about how to help kids thrive—especially now, as many schools go virtual in the pandemic—that led teachers to collectively create the new digital classrooms at Momentus, which serves pre-K through fifth-grade students and their families.

Now, Tant and Probolus have published a playbook for creating the Bitmoji classrooms: The pair shared the school’s strategy in a blog post that can serve as a “how to” manual for others.

A century-old mission of social and emotional health 

The focus on social and emotional health for kids and families runs deep at the school. If the Momentous name seems familiar, it may be because the school’s parent organization—the 100-year-old Dallas-based national mental health and education nonprofit Momentous Institute—is supported by the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament as its primary fundraising event with support also coming from the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, which owns the school.

Tant and Probolus say the innovative virtual classrooms are easily applicable to other schools and situations.

The classrooms are much more than just learning spaces for teachers and students—they’re also safe places for the students to return to, according to the pair. Many students also share spaces with their siblings while learning virtually, which can make it difficult for them to find a classroom-like space to work.

Because Momentous is starting back to school virtually this year, the pair, along with the other teachers, decided “to create a space that was just for our class that was safe and welcoming and brought a bit of joy into our students’ lives when they logged on each morning.” That’s where Bitmoji classrooms come in.

Here’s how it works

The virtual classroom serves as a home base for students to virtually enter at any time. They can use the room to access various information and activities such as to see what they’re working on or utilize learning resources.

Similar to how a student can walk around a classroom for specific information, they can navigate around the Bitmoji classroom by clicking on objects. For example, a student can click on the calendar to view upcoming events or click on books to go to the classroom’s virtual reading area. Parents can also use the virtual classroom to see what their child is learning.

For teachers wanting to create their own Bitmoji classroom, the Momentous School created a how-to guide illustrating how they used Google Slides, the Bitmoji app, and Google Chrome to create interactive classrooms. Although the Bitmoji classroom takes time to create, for many teachers it’s less time consuming than working on a physical classroom.

Katherine Probolus’ Bitmoji classroom, a 4th grade teacher at Momentous School. [Screenshot courtesy of Momentous Institute]

The Momentous Institute was founded in Dallas

The Momentous School is owned and operated by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. The Momentous Institute, the school’s parent organization, has two locations, one in North Dallas and one in Oak Cliff.

The Institute provides trauma and equity-informed mental health and education services to families, largely those who have been impacted by poverty or trauma. It also conducts research and offers social-emotional health training across the U.S.

The organization has served more than 5,500 children and family members are served through Momentous’ education and therapeutic services every year. The Institute has also done extensive work with Dallas ISD and Plano ISD., according to the group.

Momentous School teachers’ Bitmojis listed with their names. [Courtesy of Momentous Institute]

 

Quincy Preston contributed to this report. The story was updated with additional details on Aug. 13, 2020 at 10:04 a.m.

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