Emoji icons are handy little images to represent a particular feeling or concept in visual form that can often be seen in text messages, tweets and Facebook messages.

As they are particularly popular with students, it is a good idea to consider how to channel this enthusiasm to concrete learning outcomes.


In my history classroom, I am thinking that emojis could be used in the following way:

Idea 1: Produce an emoji vocabulary chart for describing the tone of sources
To help students develop a richer vocabulary for source analysis, provide students with a range of emojis of different facial expressions (these are sometimes referred to as emoticons). Students have to arrange these from the most positive emotion to the least positive, and then provide a one-word summary of each one. In this way, when analysing the tone of a particular source, students will have developed a bank of useful words to help them describe the tone and attitude of a particular writer.

Idea 2: Use the emoji vocabulary chart to analyse cartoons
To help students analyse cartoon sources, replace (or annotate) the faces of key characters or visual metaphors in cartoons with emojis. Students then have to provide a key which explains these choices.

Idea 3: Use the emoji vocabulary chart to analyse written sources
When presented with written sources, students could be asked to sum up the tone of the writer and/or their attitude towards the event or individual decribed using one or more emojis from the list, then explain their choice clearly and in full sentences.

Idea 4: Sum up the lesson content in five emojis
As a plenary or homework activity, students could be challenged to summarise the lesson material in five emojis – some of which might be emoticons to indicate such things as degrees of success and failure, some of which might be more generic object-based icons to refer to particular themes, policies and events. This selection should either be explained in a short but focused paragraph, or should be a sentence in itself converted into emoji form.


I got thinking about how emojis could be used in the history classroom after chatting to @MattPodbury about the idea in a staff meeting devoted to sharing ideas and strategies that came out of the Practical Pedagogies conference. He in turn had been inspired by some ideas shared by a session run by @HistGeoBritSec