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Website review by Jason Shiroff, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2015
BuiLD YouR WiLD SelF

BuiLD YouR WiLD SelF

WiLD avatars have potential to teach adaptation and self-reflection

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 1 review
Privacy rating
Not yet rated Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
K–5 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Science, Creativity, Character & SEL
Great for

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5 images

Pros: Avatar creation is easy and enjoyable with fun animal variations.

Cons: Learning value is easy to overlook, and there are no teaching resources to help make these connections.

Bottom Line: A good place to introduce adaptations and to get students to create alternate selves and reflect on them, but it's not specifically designed to deliver learning outcomes.

Teachers could get students to self-reflect, explore identity, and build digital literacy skills with BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF. Many learning management systems (LMS) and websites give students the options of adding an avatar; teachers might use BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF as a great, safe place to build colorful avatars for their LMS or other online tools. Building avatars is a perfect time to introduce digital citizenship skills such as how to safely represent yourself online. Teachers can also use this site to build digital literacy and computing skills. Young learners can improve their mouse and trackpad skills while learning how to navigate a child-centric web resource. The site can also be used to introduce printing, saving, and sharing images via email. Finally, students learning about animal adaptations could use the website to do some initial research on specific traits. Teachers could encourage students to explore the site first and then assign various types of adaptations to research. Students could be held accountable for the information in the "What's wild about you?" text box as a formative assessment.

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Editor's Note: BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF is no longer available.
 
BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF invites students to create a self-portrait by mixing human and animal body parts. Users select their gender and then customize the avatar by choosing from numerous options. Various animal adaptations can be added, including tails, ears, head gear, and faces. Nine skin tone options are available, along with three eye colors. Each choice is rendered in watercolor style and added to the portrait. Animal sounds and animations are sometimes included with the choices, adding to the novelty. Six backgrounds are available, and students can email, print, or download their creation. A "Go Random" button gives students a chance to mix up their portraits. After students finish their work of art, they get a sentence or two about each animal adaptation they've selected and a link to the New York zoos and aquarium to explore more.

With BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF, students can investigate each animal adaptation they choose; however, this feature is easily overlooked. This information is in a "What's wild about you?" text box displayed at the end of the experience, but the text may be difficult for some users to read, and there's no support for teachers to integrate the activity into a lesson. Weaving this information into creation rather than saving it until the end would be a more elegant approach. Adding audio narration options or short video clips and resource links would increase accessibility. There's also potential here to leverage the power of avatars to build important social and emotional learning (SEL) skills, specifically self-reflection. Students can imagine new identities for themselves, and explore what their avatars mean.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Students will like making both realistic and mythical avatars with storybook-style art and delightful sounds and animations. The website is easy to navigate, even for the youngest users, but light on interaction and dynamic presentation.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

The deeper science and SEL value is subtle and easily missed. Nonetheless, it's a clever gateway for learning more about animal adaptations and the New York zoos and aquarium.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

Students could use some additional visual cues and optional audio support to increase accessibility. Teachers could also use a tip sheet with strategies to enhance learning.


Common Sense reviewer
Jason Shiroff Classroom teacher

Community Rating


Featured review by
Janette R. ,
Holland Elementary School
Springfield, United States
Great but Gone
The kids loved it and were very engaged. The build-your-wild-self site was easy to use and allowed students to create for various projects. There were a few times were the website wasn't accurate. A student might click on elephant but get butterfly wings instead but it was easy enough for students to work around that issue. This was a great tool for my teaching resources but the Bronx Zoo has chosen to remove this interactive and it is no longer available.
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