133: Body Biographies & Digital Escape Rooms with Danielle Knight

Welcome to a content-packed episode with today’s special guest, Danielle Knight from Study All Knight. Danielle is here to share her unique creative take on building engaging English lessons, from body biographies and character autopsies to digital escape rooms and digital sketchnote activities.

You can listen in below, or on your podcast player of choice. Or, read on for the written highlights. Because the activities Danielle shares are heavily visual, I’m going to share lots of examples from her Instagram rather than spend too much time describing the activities.

Body Biographies

After creating an innovative “Body Biography” assignment in which students traced a group member and then filled in the outline with character analysis, Danielle noticed kids were spending a looooong time just getting the paper rolled out and the outline traced. So she began to give the kids the outlines herself, letting them add some details but mainly focus on textual analysis and style elements. That way they can see the visual version of the character taking shape at the same time they are analyzing the character, and not need to spend, say, two class periods drawing Macbeth’s crown.

Character Autopsy

One teacher tried an unusual twist on Danielle’s body biography, turning the project into a character autopsy with the addition of scrubs and a new frame story. This would be another creative way to launch a visual character analysis project.

Digital Escape Rooms

When Danielle creates her digital escape rooms, she likes. to put students into the stories she features. So maybe they play the role of Scrooge’s nephew when studying A Christmas Carol, or a neighbor of the narrator in “The Tell Tale Heart.” She uses the digital tool, Thing Link, to turn an interactive 360 degree view of a space into a clickable world students can explore and try to break out from.

Danielle has seen many teachers add a touch of classroom transformation to their students’ experiences of digital escape rooms. If you’re planning a digital escape room, consider dimming the lights, adding a complementary photo or video on your Smartboard, fake flickering candles on surfaces, etc. These fun details can add to the experience.

As Danielle creates a digital escape room, she tries to create different kinds of clues within the room, with the answer to one question leading naturally to the next question. She uses digital jigsaw puzzles, quotation identifications, plot order puzzles, and more as challenges within the room. Students must break through the “locks” to eventually get out of the room and win.

Guided Digital Sketchnotes

Danielle and I both believe in the power of a template to help students who don’t initially see themselves as artistic, or who don’t love art, succeed with visual strategies. She likes to create guided sketchnote activities and digital notebook pages to help students take advantage of the visual and verbal connection of sketchnotes without necessarily needing to focus on the artistic elements unless they want to.

If you’re interested in exploring the digital side of sketchnotes, she recommends Notability, Kami, and Microsoft One Note as options. Students can use sketchnotes to create character maps, outline textual themes, design mind maps, and so much more.

Connect with Danielle Knight, from Study All Knight

Check out her website for more creative classroom strategies and tools!

Peruse her inspiring Instagram Feed for even more visual examples of her beautiful work.

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