A New Day of Learning: 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Augmented Reality

About a year ago I was introduced to some pretty new technology called Augmented Reality (AR). AR is difficult to describe, but very engaging and useful for students.  Onvert.com describes AR as:

"The process of superimposing digitally rendered images onto our real-world surroundings, giving a sense of an illusion or virtual reality. Recent developments have made this technology accessible using a smartphone.
Augmented reality is hidden content, most commonly hidden behind marker images, that can be included in printed and film media, as long as the marker is displayed for a suitable length of time, in a steady position for an application to identify and analyze it. Depending on the content, the marker may have to remain visible."
In my words, Augmented Reality is when you have a trigger image which is the image you scan using your smart device, and an overlay image which you don't see until your smart device recognizes the trigger image and makes the overlay image "pop" off the screen.  There are several programs  that you can use to create and scan images.  The free program I have been experimenting with is called Aurasma. You create the trigger image using Aurasma Studio on your computer and scan the trigger image using the Aurasma app, which you can download from the app store. 
So, the real question we need to ask is how do we use this technology with our students? When I first learned about this technology, I had trouble making connections with how we could use it effectively with students.  It was fun and entertaining, but what educational value did it have?

As I have done more reading and attended trainings, I have begun to see the real potential that AR could bring to our classrooms.  Here are some creative ideas to ponder:

Interactive Book Reviews Students video record themselves doing book reviews, and when another student scans the book it shows a classmate telling about the book.

Instant Teacher Help The teacher video records him/herself explaining a difficult problem on the homework.  When the student scans the homework page, the teacher pops up giving tips and tricks to help them solve the problem.

Student Recognition Take a photo of a student who is being recognized for something and have it link to a video of them saying thank you for the award, to a piece of their work, or to an additional photo of them.

Word Wall Students can record themselves saying the word and definition.  Then when they scan the word or a picture of the word, they get an instant reminder.  In addition, they could scan the word and have it link to a video that gives them more information or an example of the word.

Yearbook You could do so many things here! A picture of an important sports game could link to a video of the game.  The picture of the principal could be a trigger for an end of the year message to students.  Pictures of faculty or students could be triggers for their favorite memory of the year.

Letters Home When you send letters home to parents include a trigger that when scanned explains details of the field trip, a greeting that tells about you at the beginning of the year, or  a link to a video of the classroom.  The possibilities are really endless!

I have been tinkering around and learning how to create resources using AR and have come up with this beach-themed division activity.  Even if your students don't learn or practice division, download the activity and the Aurasma app and give it a shot! You can download it by clicking on the picture below or from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  There are more detailed directions in the download!

How do/would you use Augmented Reality in your classroom? 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Meeting Rick Wormeli

This blog post contains affiliate links. 
Have you ever had the opportunity to listen to one of your favorite professional authors speak? Have you ever had the chance to be energized by hearing an expert in your field speak passionately? Have you ever walked away from a conference feeling more sure about your beliefs and ready to tackle new challenges?

I feel so lucky because all of those things happened to me yesterday! I had the absolute privilege of listening to and meeting Rick Wormeli, author of Fair Isn't Always Equal.

Mr. Wormeli was entertaining, energetic and thought-provoking.  A genuinely nice guy with all students at the forefront of his mind.  He didn't mince words as he talked to us about ethics, and our moral responsibility as educators to leave effort, homework, and participation out of our grades.  We also discussed the importance of never entering a zero into the gradebook and why averaging grades is an unfair practice that tells us how students are doing compared to each other, but not how each student is doing compared to a learning objective or standard.  

He gently reminded us that giving feedback is one of the most important ways that we can help our students achieve growth! Did you know that providing explanations as to why a student's responses are correct or incorrect can have an increase of 20 percentile points in student achievement? What is even more amazing is that if you show the students their achievement using graphics (think charts and graphs) it can positively affect student achievement by 26 percentile points! 

Have you ever offered extra credit in class before? I know I have! Mr. Wormeli made a great point during the presentation when he talked about if he were the ruler of the universe, that he would eliminate ALL extra credit! He pointed out that if you are going to put extra credit on a test, it should be valuable. He asked us to consider that if the extra credit was valuable, then why didn't you put it in the test to start? Extra credit skews and inflates grades and in turn does not offer an accurate picture of student achievement!

We also spent much of the time learning about how to create buy-in with staff and the community as we move towards implementing Standards Based Report Cards. One of the biggest take-aways was that you have to change teacher belief systems before changing structures.  He also reminded us that you will never have 100% buy in, but you should not let that stop you from implementing good pedagogy. 

I want you to know that these topics were just the tip of the iceberg of all the topics that were discussed in our short time together.  Mr. Wormeli was so kind as to share some great resources with us, and I have typed them up and included them here for you as well! I can't wait to start exploring and doing some more professional reading around the learnings from yesterday.

In closing, I am going to leave  you with this fun picture! It really shows what a gracious and down-to-earth guy Mr. Wormeli is.  He agreed to take a selfie with me! I think he is like the Steve Martin of the education world! 

Where are you in your journey towards Standards Based Report Cards? What is a practice you have adopted to be fair in your grading practices?

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