This week in DS106 we’re supposed to be creating audio and design assignment based around three particular episodes from the famous series. I choose to create an assignment around none of them, because I like to rock the boat in seemingly harmless and inconsequential ways like that. We all have learners like this in our classrooms, right? Besides, if I had created the 4 Icon Challenge assignment around one of the three episodes suggested, it would have been too easy. As it is, for fans of the Twilight Zone, this should be easy enough; guess the episode based on these four icons representing four of the main elements from the show.
Was this particularly difficult to do? No, I went over to the Noun Project (a website every serious digital storyteller in K-12 should have bookmarked), and grabbed the four Public Domain images above, lined them up in Photoshop (although GIMP would work just as well), and “bam!” Instant visual assignment that would be useful for anyone to help summarize a story.
I’ve done this assignment a number of times, including having a group of elementary students use Google Image search to assemble their own 4 image stories. Come to think of it, the students had a blast doing the assignment, and it would be an excellent way for students to practice some proper image and web citation repetition. Not that I’m a fan of drill and kill rote-learning, but for me it’s ok when you get to have so much fun trying to craft the perfect visual puzzle that isn’t too difficult, yet requires viewers to stretch their imaginations for them to be solved. The first icon is obviously death, but does the little girl represent an actual girl, or just a child, or perhaps youthfulness? Does the tie represent some emotional connection to the other images, or does it merely represent an article of men’s clothing? If it is just a tie, what element of the story does it represent? A character’s costume, a “macguffin” to move the story along, or a visual cue from a scene?
The paths you can take this assignment down in the K-12 classroom are endless, with students using 4 icon challenges to express their current understanding of a piece of informational text, or process new vocabulary words. Students could even use them as a storyboard for a comic or graphic novel review of a novel being read in small groups. I’ve harped about this assignment enough in other posts, so I’ll stop here. The potential for tapping learners’ visual areas of learning is reaching an untold peak of pedagogical “gold” with the advent of so many devices, connections, and tools present in many classrooms today. With new whiteboarding apps appearing in “app stores” almost daily, there’s an overabundance for students to create visual literacy processing assignments like this with just their finger and a screen if need be.
Sure, it might be more fun to do it with crayons and paper (cheaper too), but there’s nothing quite like searching for an icon of “death” on a Wednesday night as part of homework for an online course 🙂