Made at Build Your Wild Self

Uploading student photos to the web is risky business. Most parents are fine with posting their child's photo online as long as their name is not attached to it. To be on the safe side, have your students create their own avatar (a visual representation of oneself). The term 'avatar' might be a new term to you but it isn't to most of our students. They are making avatars on their video games. Of course the new movie, Avatar, is making it a household word.

Students should try to make their avatars as much like themselves as possible. These can be used all year long. Every time your students post something online or you post their work online use their avatar. Each student could even have their avatar in their own documents folder. When you ask them to print their work they can add their avatar to it. You'll soon recognize each of your students by their avatar!

Most avatar sites allow you to pick hairstyle, hair color, shape of eyes, eye color, mouth, skin tones, and clothes. Allow the students enough time to explore

the site before they actually create their avatar. You want them to be satisfied with their avatar and keep it for the entire year.
Here are two of my favorite sites for creating avatars.

  • Build Your Wild Self - the avatars at the top of this page were made on this site.
  • Wee World - my avatar in the navigation bar on the left was made here, as well as the avatar below.. Students must be 13 to register ! avatar_Carla.png
  • DesignHerGals.com - this site is intended to design notecards; however, this also makes a great avatar. avatar_with_weim.png
For a more complete list of avatars check out the Avatar category on my portaportal. Please read the terms of use on each site. Some sites require students to be 13 years old in order to register. Other sites don't require registration.

Classroom Connections:

Main Character. Have students create an avatar at the Build Your Wild Self site. Let them get wild with it: add wings, horns, fur. This will become the main character of a science fiction story. Or use their avatar for a science activity. How do the animal enhancements help them survive in their habitat? How do they find food? What is their habitat?

Story Character. Have students make avatars to represent the characters in a story or book that they are reading.
Then write a bio-poem for the characters.

VoiceThread. Use student avatars in VoiceThread instead of student photos. These can be used for their identity and/or in their VoiceThread itself.

Interactive Whiteboard Images. Use the students' avatars and their first names in word problems in flipcharts. They'll love seeing their avatars on the board! Add all of your students' avatars to My Images in the Resource Library so they're always easy to access.

Trading Card. Have your students make trading cards using their avatars on the front and a bio-poem on the back. Here's an example of a trading card made using a table in Pages with ideas of what to put on the back of the card: Buhler Pages Wiki Also see Big Huge Labs for trading card templates.
Keynote/PowerPoint. Students can add their avatar on the title slide of their presentation.


VOKIVokis are much like avatars in that you can choose your character and add features, including a background. Vokis are a hit because they
are animated vodcasts, which means you can add your own voice to them or you might choose to use a computer generated voice. There's a limit to how long the recording can be - 60 seconds. The eyes follow the movements of your mouse! Even the shyest students enjoy recording a voki.

There are many sites where you can make audio recordings of computer-generated voices and/or your own voice. I've listed several on my portaportal under the category titled Audio Recording Sites.

Classroom Connections:

  • Welcome. Make a voki with your own voice recording to welcome your students and visitors to your website, blog, Moodle course and/or wiki. They love hearing their teacher's voice!
  • Blog. Whether you have a classroom blog or each of your students have their own blog, have them create their own voki. Each day a different student could post to the blog and include their own voki. Student vokis could make announcements for the day on the blog.
  • Poems. Students can record poems using their Voki. Reminder: 60 seconds total.
  • Vocabulary. Can't you see a voki introducing vocabulary words on your science blog?
  • Voki - Avatars in Education. This site is full of ideas for using Vokis and many samples of Vokis being used in the classroom. Be sure and scroll way down- it's a very looooong page.
  • Class Wiki. Much like the class blog listed above, this is a great venue for allowing students to create a Voki (in this example, the students read a novel, chose a main character, and recorded the character's viewpoint regarding a main event) and added it to the class wiki. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever wiki