Thursday, March 22, 2018

#AlwaysInBeta: Booksnaps, Google Slides and Bitmoji


If you happened to be at CUE last week, you would have been able to see the queen and inventor of Booksnaps, Tara Martin, demonstrate how to do Booksnaps in Google Slides. Booksnaps, originally was done exclusively with Snapchat. But many innovative educators, who are #AlwaysInBeta,  "hacked" Booksnaps by devising ways to booksnap with Google Drawings & Slides, Seesaw and more. 

For those of you unfamiliar with Booksnaps, they are not just some flashy gimmick. Booksnaps allow students to mark the text with Snapchat or Snapchat "features". There is brain research behind it. Booksnaps help students with retention, comprehension and engagement while marking the text. In a nutshell, Booksnaps combines something students often dislike, reading, with something they love, Snapchat. On a personal note, I now take much longer to read because I find so many points I want to booksnap.

One of the coolest features of Snapchat is the integration of Bitmoji. Bitmoji is a fun little app that allows you to "cartoonify" yourself. Within Snapchat, you can insert your Bitmoji "cartoonified" self into your images. The question remains, how does this work with Booksnaps?

If you have students using Snapchat to do Booksnaps, they are already experts. They simply take pictures of text, mark it Snapchat's annotation tool and add stickers and Bitmojis. But what if cellphones are banned at your site and or students do not have Snapchat. Never fear, Google Slides (Drawings too) is here!

Many Snapchat features can be emulated with Google Slides (Drawings too). For images of text, you can use the webcam to take the picture or you can insert a screenshot of digital text. Once you have the image of text, use Slides' line tool and scribble function to "annotate" and circle the part of the text that resounded with you. From there, draw a text box across the width of the image to write your claim or opinion. The final step is to find png stickers and emojis from the internet to paste onto the slide to support the text you circled and statement or opinion. 


Now where does Bitmoji fit in with the Google Slides version of Booksnaps? It lies in the Bitmoji Chrome extension. It is free on the Chrome Web Store. You may need to talk to your Google Domain Super Admin to push the extension to student accounts. Once pushed to their accounts and browsers, students click on the extension, a drop down menu of Bitmoji appears and they simply copy and paste the appropriate Bitmoji to their slides. 

One hiccup you may encounter is your network's filter. The easiest way for students to login to Bitmoji is via Snapchat. If Snapchat is blocked, ask IT to briefly allow so kids can get signed in to use Bitmoji. Where I work, IT allows teachers to use a special login and password to temporarily bypass the network filter for situations like this.

Here is what it looks like when kids use Google Slides and Bitmoji (Chrome Extension ) to do Booksnaps.

Above you see this student choosing a Bitmoji from the dropdown on the Chrome extension. From there, this student copied and pasted to her Booksnaps on Google Slides.

I am sure there will be new ways to improve the Booksnaps process. Keep your eyes and ears open to the next innovation. Doing this helps us to stay #AlwaysInBeta.