Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ideas for Using Augmented Reality in Elementary School Lessons

This week I am giving some guest bloggers the opportunity to share their ideas with you. This is a guest post from Louise Morgan and Jan Hodge. 

In a very short time, my second grade classroom has changed drastically, due to the introduction of 10 iPads. My students were already proficient at blogging, skyping, and even tweeting using the few computers we had in the classroom, but adding the iPads changed everything. Classroom routines had and procedures that had been well-established had to be revisited and tweaked in order to accommodate our new tools. Simple housekeeping like handling the headphones, closing out apps, and keeping the screens clean were just as important for my 2nd graders to learn, as well as, how to navigate creation apps, the camera roll, and curating their work. Specific instructions and examples can be found on my blog:

The goal for my classroom has always been independence and creativity. I want my students to be able to create freely without being bogged down with the technicalities of technology. Teaching students how to blog and use our class Twitter happens early in year along with digital citizenship so that our days are seamless. That way, we are able to create, collaborate and experience learning at the highest levels.

This year, the students loved working with the Chromeville App. Students visited the website, read about the history of the villages, and selected their favorite character to experience in 3D. After using the coloring sheets and Augmented Reality to bring the characters to life, my students are now creating stories about them with the writing process. We were also able to Skype with the Chromville Creators all the way from Spain! Students learned that artists and programmers collaborate to create 3D animation, stories and the app. Because of the students’ interest and excitement we were treated to a demonstration of another project @Imascono #AR Apparel! T-Shirts with Triggers! My students loved the power ranger and the gorilla!

Another wonderful, free app that my students enjoyed was Tellagami. During our study on African American Inventors, my students researched an inventor, wrote a blog post & created a “gami” of their inventor. The students loved being able to configure their avatar’s appearance and backgrounds to fit their vision of chosen inventor. They also loved recording their voices and hearing them in the finished product. Using Tellagami brought history to life for my students in an engaging and meaningful way. My students were proud of their learning and love being digital storytellers!

We have also used ColarApp very successfully. Our District Library Media Specialist, Jan Hodge, collaborated with us as we used the ColarApp for #dotday. Students loved creating and bringing their dots to life!

What I’ve learned from having iPads in the classroom is, with good management & using them in Daily 5 and centers, I am actually able to meet regularly with my students. I am able to get off the stage and work alongside them mentoring and encouraging their journeys. Implementation of technology in the classroom should not be feared. These devices turn my classroom into a 21st century learning environment!

Louise Morgan @mrsmorgansclass is a 2nd Grade Teacher in Crowley ISD, #2ndchat Moderator, #globalclassroom lead teacher, #TCEA Presenter #ISTE 2014 Presenter

Jan Hodge @janhodgelibrary is a District Elementary Library Media Specialist in Crowley ISD, #TLA Presenter, #TCEA Tots & Techology Presenter 2014,

How Technology Has Engaged All Learners

This week I am giving some guest bloggers the opportunity to share their ideas with you. This is a guest post from Scott McKenzie

Every student can succeed.
That is what I want to talk to you about.
Every. Student. Can. Succeed.
We just have to find the way to help them do it.
This year… technology has leveled the playing field in my class for all students.

When I was young I didn’t fit in at school. I dreaded Valentine’s Day. Everyone would bring in cards for the people they liked. I would bring in one for each classmate and go around and hand them out. Then I would sit back at my desk, and try to hide the fact that my bag was empty. I would quickly stuff it into my desk. I didn’t fit in, and I wasn’t engaged in school. Later in high school I was told that I wouldn’t be able to pass advanced courses, and that I would never go to University. I eventually graduated with an Honours degree and went on to get my Bachelor’s of Education.

I share my story with my students every year, I mention that I didn’t feel like I fit in, that I was told I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my dream and go to university. I try to share with students that everyone is important, everyone has a voice, and their dreams are always worth pursuing.

As educators we have to be open, and willing to seek out alternative ways to enable learners and foster success in our students. If we show we believe in them, and give them tools to truly become successful, then we have earned the title "educator".

Have you ever felt like you didn't fit in? Imagine being 2 to 3 grade levels below everyone else in your class, and trying to fit in. Imagine how hard it would be to disguise that fact in class every day.That was the reality for several of the students who came into my class this year. They struggled in school, and everyone knew it. They didn't fit in.

This year technology was our secret weapon. With technology my students could get past the hurdles of not being able to read, or spell at grade level. I brought in BYOD, so everyone could use technology, and everyone looked the same. Things were going better, but technology is not perfect, and the motivation dropped off, as they sometimes still struggled. I was searching for the key, but I forgot to ask the most important people in the room. I never asked the students I was trying to help. One day I assigned a task in class. I offered them the choice of several ways to complete the task. Many of the choices involved technology.

One boy approached and asked if he could use Minecraft. It was a game he played regularly at home on his iPad. It was something he was confident doing. I took a chance, and said yes. The speed and efficiency he worked at was literally stunning. He completed the same work as the others, in the same time limit. Letters that were often formed backwards, or even upside down were perfectly written for all the key points. Visual images explained all the concepts he had learned, and he even shared!

Since that day Minecraft had become a viable option in my class. All the students who struggled with reading and writing were proficient at Minecraft. Visually they could map out how to show their work in the 3D landscape. Other students worked with it as well, and that is when the magic happened. The students who were used to being the lowest were suddenly helping others in the class. They became our experts, working with others to help them be successful. They gained the esteem of their peers, but more importantly, they gained their respect.

Now when students are given a challenge, every hand goes up. Everyone feels empowered. They never miss class, even when they are sick! They have become fearless, they tackle every situation with this new found confidence, and work away at problems until they are solved.

Through technology we were engaged as a class, working together. We had built a community that everyone felt a part of. where every student is successful.

The Design Of Information - Empowering Students To Create Authentic Visuals

This week I am giving some guest bloggers an opportunity to share their ideas with you. This is a guest post from Mercer Hall and Patricia Russac. 

Students with access to tablets, laptops, and digital devices today are blessed with a wealth of visual resources at their fingertips. At the same time, they are inundated with graphics from smartphones, streaming media, and video games. As a consequence, rightly or wrongly, most children think of themselves as visual learners. The potential is steep for apps and web tools that invite students to create their own educational images. The risk, however, is that these pictorial projects will fail to actually illuminate any information and will instead result in a mess of colors, layouts, and fonts.

We’ve been experimenting this year with a few specific iOS and Internet resources to emphasize visual design as a way of adding context to content. We abide by the strict saying, “Content first, pretty second.” At the same time, we try to introduce students to the importance of visual displays in communicating information cleanly and effectively. These visual skills center on decoding and encoding. Students can “read” images to comprehend the essential meanings, and they can also generate graphics themselves to demonstrate thematic mastery.

Our middle schoolers, for example, use the Smore website to create digital portfolios of their work. They curate their creations across all of their subjects, storing them in a sharable digital archive. Smore is a free, flexible, open-ended resource originally billed as a tool for designing posters and flyers. Its user-friendly nature to embed and link media, however, makes it an ideal space for students to collect their visual projects. Teachers, too, can use Smore for cataloging class portfolios, to share electronically with parents and to maintain safely in a cloud-based platform.

Infographics also make for elegant visual presentations to arrange facts and figures. Although infographics have saturated the modern business climate, they are still emerging in the educational world as canvases for student work. Our students use the Visualize and PicCollage apps on their iPads to fashion social studies graphics about country statistics. Because they blend words, pictures, and data, infographics can be key tools to simplify and reimagine course material. They also make children aware of the media potential for bias in advertising. Even elementary learners enjoy the practice with color, fonts, and layout as they refine the clarity of their images.

Sketchnoting can offer another avenue for marrying class content with students’ individual learning preferences. Our students combine multi-sensory note-taking with the interactive possibilities of Thinglink. Sketchnoting by hand is an expressive, higher order process of capturing information that offers choice in exploring the visual metaphors of a day’s learning. Then, students can photograph their drawings using the iPad and upload their images to Thinglink. They annotate their illustrations with Thinglink hot spots, featuring paragraphs from their class blogs. These dynamic designs can be embedded or shared via social media like Twitter.

Overall, our students appreciate that well-designed visuals are rewarding in personalizing the understanding of content. As teachers, we see improvement in the way children internalize content and look carefully at their creations. This literacy in rendering optical inputs speaks to the interrelated nature of our students’ visual world.

Mercer Hall and Patricia Russac are K-8 teachers and media specialists in Roslyn, New York. They are also the co-founders of The American Society For Innovation Design In Education and co-editors of the ASIDE blog (@theASIDEblog), whose work has been featured in Edutopia, EdTech Magazine, and other outlets. They write about technology and literacy in publications such as ISTE’s Learning & Leading With Technology, Edsurge, and Al Jazeera.