Monday, May 19, 2014

Good Ideas for Using Augmented Reality in Elementary School Math and Reading

This week I am giving some guest bloggers the opportunity to share their ideas and experiences. This is a post from Heidi Samuelson. 

One of the most exciting pieces of technology I’ve tried with my students this year has been Augmented Reality…There are many different apps for Augmented Reality, but the one I’ve had the most success with is Aurasma (available for iOS and Android).

Reading non-fiction books can be challenging for young minds. However, when you add some Augmented Reality books come to life! I used Aurasma to create auras that helped my chapter book club get an “Augmented Reality” experience as they read through Mary Pope Osborne’s “Dragon of the Red Dawn”. Aurasma gave me the opportunity to bring parts of the story to life in a way the kids had not experienced before. They could see what the shogun’s palace might have looked like as if they were looking at it through Jack and Annie’s eyes. Students used the Aurasma App on their device to scan a page in the book we were reading and view the aura attached to the words. My students couldn’t wait for book club time! Each day became an exciting adventure into a new augmentation of learning for them. The conversations and opinion sharing turned rich with vocabulary that the book club students had not experienced before! Their knowledge deepened as they were able to see and interact with the words of the story book in a new realm! They wanted to take the new technology to more areas of our learning so I began to develop more activities to use with auras.

One of these activities was to have students create video talks about books they were reading. In the talk they could tell why they thought the viewer would like to read the book. Then we used the iPad app to attach auras to the book cover using their video talks. Now anyone can use the Aurasma App to scan a book with the same cover picture and see my student’s opinion of why they should read that particular book! Imagine...taking a device to a library and being able to see and hear a little more about the book you’re holding in your hand! I made little stickers with the Aurasma App image to put on the front of the books we did video talks about so that others would know which books had talks to scan in our classroom library.

Another activity I designed helped students share more about the things students do outside of school. We have a show and share time in my classroom. Parents sent in images and videos of their children doing “after school” activities. The kids and I then created trigger images for their special auras to share with others. Students can now scan the trigger image with the Aurasma App and watch after school activities come to life. We created a whole wall of Auras to share with others.

I didn’t want to limit the experiences of Augmented Reality to reading alone. To bring math to life, I created Aurasma Auras for self-checking at the class math stations. Students choose a math equation card, solve the equation on their paper, and then use the Aurasma App to check their work. As they scan the card, the answer comes to life. The kids enjoy seeing if they’ve solved their equations correctly, and the different clipart images provided by MyCuteGraphics are perfect to change up the visuals in the answers!

Augmented Reality has been a HUGE success in my classroom this year! If you’d like to experience some of our auras, follow the directions on the graphic below:

Hello! My name is Heidi Samuelson and it is a great pleasure to be guest blogging on Free Technology for Teachers today! I’m a second grade teacher in Tennessee who LOVES to integrate technology into my classroom and Richard’s blog has introduced me to TONS of resources!! You can read about some of my activities and techie ventures on my teaching blog: Mrs. Samuelson’s Swamp Frogs. Thanks for reading along with me today! I hope you’ll “hop” over to the Swamp and check out some more ways we use technology in the room! I also share activities on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

Engaging 6th Graders With Coding

This week I am giving some guest bloggers the opportunity to share their ideas and experiences. This is a post from Alison Franz. 

As my first year as an educational technology teacher draws to a close, I’ve found myself further reflecting on the experience. As a result, I am thrilled to have this opportunity to share my reflections with you as a guest blogger.

Although I’ve learned so much from my experiences this year, the most important lessons came from sharing the Hour of Code with my students. I teach a 6th grade computers course, so when my supervisor shared the information on Hour of Code, I figured that I would do something to share coding with my students. What I didn’t realize at the time was how engaging or transformative it would be for my students and our classroom!

My initial plan was to share the importance of coding with the students and then have them work through the introductory tutorial on What happened was so much more! The students were instantly engaged and hooked on trying to earn their trophies. I saw students who were previously quiet and hesitant to share, come alive. As students progressed through the tutorial, I saw that my students were learning so much more than coding. They were collaborating and supporting one another in their attempts to move through the levels. Students were open to trying new approaches and weren’t afraid of failure. They became creative in their responses to the different challenges. They were wholly absorbed in what they were doing and eager to learn more.

Seeing what coding had done for my students, I knew I had to find a way to include more opportunities for my students. As a result, I introduced the students to Scratch and allowed them to create their own independent projects with code. They ran with the opportunity, working both in and out of the classroom, and created a variety of amazing projects, including short games and animations. Again, I marveled at their collaboration with each other, the level of their creativity, and the risk taking they were willing to do. Being able to foster these essential life skills while watching my students’ faces beam with pride over their own creations was truly remarkable.

As I reflect, I am also looking forward to next year and thinking about new ways to extend this experience for my students. I’d love to take the collaboration beyond my classroom and have my students work and create with students in other parts of the country or world. If anyone is interested in collaborating or would like more information about what I did with my students, I’d be happy to share.

I am an enthusiastic educator who has been teaching middle school for the past 15 years at my former middle school in Morris County, NJ. For the first 14 years of my career, I taught English and Reading/Writing in grades 6-8. This past year, I made the move to teaching technology courses in the same middle school. I am a lifelong learner and am looking forward to attending ISTE for the first time this year so that I can meet and collaborate with fantastic educators from around the world! I can be reached on twitter (@alisonmfranz).

ISTE: What It Is and How It Changed My Life

This week I am giving some guest bloggers the opportunity to share their ideas and experiences. This is a post from Beth Still. 

If you’re an educator and you spend any time at all on Twitter it is likely that have heard someone mention that ISTE is just around the corner. ISTE is the International Society for Technology in Education, a professional organization with over 100,000 members from around the world. Their mission is to “empower learners to flourish in a connected world by cultivating a passionate professional learning community, linking educators and partners, leveraging knowledge and expertise, advocating for strategic policies, and continually improving learning and teaching.” ISTE provides numerous valuable resources including books, webinars, technology standards, and a variety of networking and advocacy opportunities. I will argue that the most valuable resource ISTE provides is their annual conference.

Each year around 18,000 educators from around the world make the trek to ISTE which is held in a different major city in late June. This summer it is going to be in Atlanta from June 28 to July 1. Attendees will be able to select from hundreds of sessions which are delivered in a variety of formats including poster sessions (similar to a science fair), workshops, lectures, panels, and BYOD’s. Attendees can also visit the vendor floor to meet with any of the the 4500 reps from over 500 hundred companies.

I had no idea how large of an impact attending ISTE would have on my life when I first attended in 2008. While the sessions and the speakers are fabulous, the one thing that keeps me coming back year after year is the opportunity to network face-to-face. I went from being lonely and isolated to having a huge network of colleagues from around the world!

I selected the image from Adam Bellow’s ISTE13 keynote because it is significant to me. Some of the people in this picture (including Adam) have had a huge impact on my professional learning over the years. George Couros, Summer Howarth, Beth Gross, David Warlick, John Spencer, Lee Kolbert, Scott McLeod, Paul R. Wood and Bob Hastings are just a few of the people who are in Adam’s network as well as mine. Attending ISTE allows me to build deeper and more meaningful relationships that I am connected to online. ISTE is a fantastic place to solidify friendships and create memories that will last a lifetime! The collage below contains my most memorable ISTE moments. I hope you will be able to attend ISTE in Atlanta so you can start making your own memories, but if you cannot make it then you might want to consider attending in the future:
  • ISTE2015 - Philadelphia - June 28-July 1 
  • ISTE2016 - Denver - June 26-29 
  • ISTE2017 - San Antonio June 26-29

Beth Still is a social studies from teacher from Nebraska. She has been an active member of the ed tech community since 2008. She will be putting her skills to good use next year as she begins her new journey as the Technology Integration Specialist for Gering Public Schools.

Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders - A Practical Ed Tech Webinar Series

This summer I am offering a series of webinars about blogs and social media for teachers and school leaders. If you have been thinking about blogging, thinking about joining Twitter or another social network, then this course is for you. If you have tried blogging and social media in the past, but just didn't get into it, then this course is for you too.

Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders is designed to help teachers and school leaders develop an understanding of the many ways they can use blogs and social media (Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and more) to enhance communication between school and home. After learning about how each of the tools works we'll dive into developing strategies for implementation.
Blogging isn’t new and it isn’t as flashy as say iPads in the classroom, but it is a very valuable activity for students, teachers, and school leaders. In fact, I think that too often it is under-utilized by teachers and school leaders. One cause that under-utilization is due in part to not having a clear strategy for implementation. Another reason for under-utilization of blogs is a lack of understanding of just how many ways blogs can be used by students, teachers, and school leaders. I developed this course to address all of those issues and help teachers and school leaders develop an understanding of the many ways they can use blogs and social media to improve communication between school and home. 
Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders is a three week webinar series during which teachers and school administrators will learn the how to choose the best blogging platform for their situations, how to set-up a blog for classroom and school-wide use, and learn about strategies on how to manage blogs in classroom and school-wide settings. Participants will also learn how to avoid the mistakes that often lead to blogging endeavors being abandoned.  After establishing blogs we'll jump into using social networks like Twitter, Google+, and Instagram to reach out to parents, students, and other members of school communities.
Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders will meet at 7pm Eastern Time on June 16, 23, and 30. All sessions are recorded for participants to watch as many times as they like.

 Click here to register today!

Who is this webinar series for?
Teachers, school administrators, media specialists, and teacher-librarians who:
  • Have never created blogs... or…
  • Have have tried blogging but didn’t get the results they hoped for...or…
  • Have wondered what all the fuss is about Twitter and Google+...or...
  • Are planning to lead PD sessions about blogs and social media and want to learn how to structure their trainings as well as access hand-outs they can use in their own training sessions.
  • This webinar series costs $97 per seat. (There is a $15 processing fee for registering with a purchase order. That fee is waived for those who register and pay online).
  • Click here to register today!
Participants receive:
  • Three hours of live instruction with Q&A opportunities.
  • Access to recordings of each session (recordings can be downloaded for unlimited personal use).
  • Digital hand-outs to download and re-use for personal use as well as re-use within their school districts.
  • A dedicated discussion forum to access throughout the three week course.
  • Certificate of completion.
Course Dates:
The live webinar sessions will be held at 7pm Eastern Time on June 16, 23, 30