Customizable Student HQs: Bitmoji Classrooms, Fortnite and Google Slides

(Note: There is a video walkthrough at the end of this post)


What does Fortnite have in common with a Bitmoji?

Customization!

My two sons, 10 and 7, are addicted to Fortnite. I have several posts kicking around in my head about the game mechanics and how to apply them to the classroom. Not to step on those future posts but the most engaging parts of Fortnite are not shooting other players. Nope, its all about the customization. The thing that gets my sons out of bed during the Pandemic is the ability to get new skins for the game. Fortnite is a “free” game that costs a whole heap of money. To get skins (well, any of the good ones) a player has to buy a “Battle Pass” which allows them to earn new items as they earn XP. It’s a clever bit of marketing. The masterstroke though is the item shop. Everyday Epic Games (Fortnite’s creator) releases new skins and items in the shop but these cost “V-Bucks”. Almost every day my sons ask for real dollars to by virtual bucks to buy pixels. The most surprising element of all is that these new skins, weapon wraps, gliders, and emotes literally have no impact on the game.

Fortnite' Season 4 Battle Pass Skins: Jennifer Walters to Tier 100 Iron Man
This is the first 8 levels of the Chapter 2 Season 4 Battle Pass.

Epic Games even got me… I spent real dollars for my favorite skin…

Epic Games respond to quirky Fortnite Jellie skin glitches | Dexerto
If you ever get eliminated by a Jellie called Mamacub321 that would be me. My wife and I share an account.

Five months of a Pandemic inspired Fortnite marathon has permeated my thinking and collided with my classroom game designs today.

The Bitmoji Classroom is all the rage these days. Everyone seems to have one now because most schools are starting school in some form of distance learning. Teachers all seem to want to show off their classroom personality through these clever little jpegs. Here’s mine:

I have to admit I did not make this. My wife offered to make one for me when I complimented hers (she teaches 4th grade). I love that my bitmoji has a picture of her bitmoji on the desk. As I was admiring her work it crossed my mind that this shows off some of me but I really want to let the students customize their experience – like Fortnite Skins. As I was getting my Semester 1 ready today it hit me that I could tie the Bitmoji Classroom concept into my Superhero theme for the year AND the kicker is I could give them grade updates in real time!

Every superhero has a headquarters. Superman has the Fortress of Solitude, Batman has the Batcave, and Iron Man has Stark Towers. If my students are Superheros (its a long story) then they should have some sort of headquarters they can customize. Here is a proof of concept.

This nothing more than a Google Slide. The image is a picture sent to the background. The superhero is an image that has been turned into a transparency. I used remove.bg and lunapic.com to create the transparency since this was just a proof of concept test. Other items can be added the same way and I intend to use this as a badging type system. I haven’t thought this entirely through but I am thinking that I can share these with individual students and then create items for the HQ in Google Draw. I can share the items with students via email. The drawing can even have a link that explains the reason for the item was earned or even link to a video or reading. Students can then place the items they like in the HQ to customize. They can even upgrade their HQ or costumes! Lots of possibilities here.

The really cool part though is the counters in the upper right of the HQ. I would like these HQs to be a place that students visit from time to time and that means they have to need something there. This is where the gradebook comes in. Google Slides allows the importation of Charts created in Google Sheets which works out great because my primary gradebook is completed through Google Sheets. I wouldn’t want to share that directly but with a simple IMPORTRANGE function important data can be quickly transferred over to another sheet.

Gradebook Info

(This is a heavily modified Alice Keeler Gradebook Beta I obtained quite awhile ago)

This gradebook data is then imported to a new spreadsheet. Right now I just have the overall XP Total.

Then each student would get an individual tab. In this case I named each tab a number. Again keeping it simple for right now.

The tabs just pull the individual student’s information from the first Student Data tab. Now this can be used to create charts. In this case I have a “Gauge” chart and a “Total” chart. Both are using only the data from cell D1. At this point return back to the Google Slides and select “Insert” then “Chart” then “From Sheets”.

Then Select which Google Sheet your charts are in and then select the Charts you want to add.

The best part is that every time I update the gradebook the spreadsheets will update meaning that the charts will update!

I am still working all of this out. I would like to create a link that will let students see the work items they have completed. I also need to figure out how to deliver this to the students so that they find it useful. But this seems like a fun and customizable way for students to both share their personality and have a little bit of control over the terrible situation we are in. Just like in Fortnite this will have no impact on their actual “Game Play” or Grade in the classroom but might be a way for them to engage in the class more.

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