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Automatoon: Create HTML5 animations

What it is: Oh. My. Word.  I’m slowly but surely making my way through my Google Reader and stumbled on a post by @rmbyrne on his EXCELLENT blog Free Tech 4 Teachers about Automatoon.  I immediately started playing with Automatoon and cannot say enough about how COOL it is!  Automatoon...

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Aurasma: Create Augmented Reality Experiences in Under 2 Min.

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Art, Classroom Management, Create, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, inspiration, Interactive book, iPod, Maker Space, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 04-01-2017

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Create augmented reality experiences for your classroom in under 2 minutes

What it is: Aurasma is an app (also a website) that allows learners to quickly create augmented reality experiences for others. Augmented reality is the mix of technology and the real world. Probably the most popular or, at least the most commonly used, augmented reality is the use of Snapchat filters. Funny faces and masks are overlaid on top of the real world (i.e. whatever you are taking a picture of). Aurasma makes it simple to quickly create these types of experiences for others. Learners start by uploading, or taking, a “Trigger” photo. This photo is what the Aurasma app will look for to trigger the event that has been layered on top of the photo. Next, learners add overlay images. These are the images that will popup when the Trigger Photo is within the camera viewfinder. It might sound cumbersome, but it really isn’t! It is like having QR codes embedded right in any environment…without the QR code!

Empower students to create their own augmented reality experiences

How to integrate Aurasma into the classroom: Because learners can create augmented reality experiences for any environment, the possibilities are seriously endless. Below are a few ways I can see our teachers and learners using Aurasma:

  • A few years ago, our students explored How the World Works through the PBS series, and book, How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson. As a result of their learning, the students decided to build a Domino Museum (you can read about that here). At the time, they put QR codes all around their museum. Some QR codes explained how the museum worked, and others expanded on the information that was presented on each domino. Aurasma could take an experience like this to the next level by allowing students to embed information and instructions all around the museum. As people walked through their Domino Museum with the Aurasma app opened up, additional information would have automatically populated based on where they placed Triggers.
  • Anastasis students are SUPER creative in presenting their learning at the end of an inquiry block. During the last block, one of our students explored the history of dance. In one of our learning spaces she created a time machine that students could get into. Then she themed other learning spaces for each time period. With Aurasma, she could have had the students actually see the dancers/costumes/etc. of each time period as if they were really in the room, using the room as a trigger.
  • In a foreign language class, students could use objects/items in the room as triggers for vocabulary overlays. As students look through their iPhone/iPad/Android’s camera in the Aurasma app, all of that vocabulary would pop up as others explored the room.
  • Our students go on a field trip on average once a week. They explore all kinds of incredible places for learning in context. Often, another class might end up at the same location later in the month or even in another year. As students visit somewhere new, they can overlay their learning on a place. When other classes, or another year’s students visit, they can see the learning that took place when others visited. (How cool would it be to get a network of schools doing this so that we could all learn together!)
  • We have a strong social justice component at Anastasis. Last year, our Jr. High kids spent time at Network Coffee House. During their time there, they spent a day in the life of a homeless person. They held cardboard signs on street corners and panhandled, they met other homeless, and got a tour of where these people sleep, get warm, etc. Afterward they had incredible reflections about their experience. It would have been a neat exercise to have them end the day by taking pictures of landmarks at the various stops around their tour as Triggers. When they got back to school, they could have created an augmented reality reflection tour for others.
  • In art class, students could take a photo of their creation and then overlay an explanation about how they created their art, their inspiration, etc. During a school art show, those in attendance would get to experience the heart behind each piece.
  • In social studies, students could snap a photo of a place on the map, and then overlay their learning on top. As others explored the map with the Aurasma app, all of that information would populate as they explored the map.
  • Learners could take a photo of the cover of a book (or book spine) that they just read. They can overlay the trigger image with their review of the book. As students are searching the library through the Aurasma app, they will see the reviews that other students have left behind.
  • Teachers can use Aurasma to embed instructions or norms around their classrooms. I’m imagining this being useful for special equipment use in a maker space or science lab. This would also be a great way to embed instructions when you have different learning happening in the classroom in a center like environment. Multiply your reach by layering the instructions or a demonstration of each center at its location in the classroom.
  • Teachers could also use Aurasma to amplify the usefulness of posters or bulletin boards around the classroom. Snap a photo of either as your trigger and then layer additional helpful information over top.
  • It could be fun to “hide” a writing prompt or brain teaser in your classroom each day. Just snap a photo of something in the classroom so that when students look through their camera with Aurasma, the overlay pops up with instructions.
  • This would also be a fun way to lead students through problem solving of a mystery where they are discovering clues and following directions. At the beginning of the year, you could create a tour of the school or scavenger hunt around the school to help students get acclimated to their new surroundings.
  • Sooo…the possibilities really are endless with this one!

Tips: Learners can create augmented reality experiences from the Aurasma website, but to actually view the augmented reality, an iPhone/iPad/Android device with the Aurasma app is needed.

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The Literacy Shed: a treasure trove of ideas

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Character Education, Create, Evaluate, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Websites | Posted on 25-06-2012

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What it is:  The Literacy Shed is a fantastic blog/site I learned about on Twitter from @missmac100, thanks Carol! The Literacy Shed is maintained by primary teacher Rob Smith and is packed full of teaching ideas all related to literacy.  The site is separated into “sheds,” each with a different genre.  There are short films images and book suggestions that are each accompanied by a teaching idea that includes discussion questions and writing prompts.  The Literacy Shed has plenty of ideas to keep you going all year long!   This truly is a treasure trove that will keep you coming back again and again. You will find the following “sheds” on the Literacy Shed:

  • Fantasy
  • Ghostly
  • Other Cultures
  • Inspiration
  • Moral
  • Picture Book
  • Great Animation
  • Love
  • Inventors
  • Fairytales
  • Reading
  • Poetry
  • Adventure
  • Mystery
  • Film Trailer
  • Fun
  • Lighthouse
  • Flying Books
  • Resource
  • Non-literacy
  • Weblinks

How to integrate The Literacy Shed into the classroom: The Literacy Shed is a great one-stop-shop for inspiration and ideas to improve literacy and critical thinking in your classroom.  The ideas can be used with a variety of age groups, different ages will pick up on different themes and discussions using the same videos/images/books.  Students will become familiar with a variety of genres and become comfortable with the characteristics of each.

There is something here for every classroom and unit.  As I said, it is a treasure trove of resources!  Use the ideas in the Literacy Shed to spark meaningful discussions and writing direction for your students.  I always like to start with discussion and end with a written reflection because it gives students the opportunity to listen to other ideas, and then solidify their own ideas and reflections in writing.

Tips: You can follow the Literacy Shed on Twitter: @redgierob

Please leave a comment and share how you are using The Literacy Shed in  your classroom!

Draw a Stickman

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Fun & Games, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 25-10-2011

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What it is:  Draw a Stickman is a delightful site that I learned about from @amandacdykes on her blog Upside Down Education.  On Draw a Stickman, students are prompted to draw a stick figure, the figure they draw springs to life and is faced with several challenges, students must follow directions and draw several props for their stick figure to interact with.  This is a mini interactive story that has students reading and following directions, solving mysteries, thinking creatively and solving problems.  Students will love the hero of the story (the character they created) and the villain (a dragon).

How to integrate the Draw a Stickman site into the classroom: Draw a Stickman is a fun interactive site that uses student creations to tell a story.  Students can complete the interactive on individual computers, iDevices (the site works great!), interactive whiteboards, or classroom computers.

Aside from just fun practice at following instructions, Draw a Stickman would be a great fictional story prompt.  Students have the bones of a story and can fill in details, vivid verbs, adjectives, etc. to tell the story.  Students can focus on fleshing out their hero, the plot of the story, the details, the setting, etc.  Students can come up with a moral of a story that they add in the customized ending.  This link can be sent as a tweet, facebook link, or in an email to accompany the story they have created.  These stories would be fun to share as a class…how many different stories did students come up with using the same base?

On an interactive whiteboard, students can go through the story together, labeling the different parts of the story (beginning, problem, climax, resolution, ending).  This interactive can help students identify parts in a story including setting, characters and plot.

Tips: After you have gone through Draw a Stickman, you can personalize the message at the end and share.  Add any two lines of text that you wish.  This could be a fun way to reveal messages to your students!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Draw a Stickman in  your classroom!

Death in Rome

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Evaluate, History, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 20-10-2010

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What it is: Death in Rome is an interactive history experience from the BBC.  The game takes place in the year 80AD where Tiberius Claudius Eutychus is found dead in his apartment.  Students must put their sleuth skills to work as they investigate clues scattered around the room to solve the mystery.  They have until dawn to crack the case.  In addition to clues in the room, students can “talk” to modern-day experts for additional information, and interrogate witnesses.

How to integrate Death in Rome into your curriculum: Death in Rome is a fantastic exercise in critical thinking, reasoning, and deduction.  Students will learn about ancient Rome, using clues to solve a mystery, and find out how engaging and interesting history can be.  Death in Rome would make a great partner activity.  Students can work together in teams to solve the crime.  When each team has cracked the case, they can share the strategy they used and the clues that tipped them off to the solution.  If you don’t have access to a lab setting, solve the case as a class using a projector or interactive whiteboard.  Students can take turns at the board acting as investigators and leading the investigation.  As the game progresses, those students at their seats can make note of the clues and offer conjectures as to what the clues reveal about the death.

Tips: Because of the subject matter, this game probably isn’t appropriate for students under the age of 10.  I recommend playing through the game yourself to decide if it is appropriate for your age group.  Older students will enjoy playing investigator!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Death in Rome in your classroom!

Copyright Exposed: Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Character Education, Internet Safety, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 18-08-2010

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What it is: Copyright can be tricky for students (and adults) to understand.  Copyright Exposed: Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright does a good job of just that, taking the mystery out of copyright.  Here your students will watch a short video/comic that explains copyright.  Next, students can explore how copyright came to be by looking at the milestone files on record.  Reading the Fine Print helps students answer questions such as: “Do I have to register a copyright to secure protection?”; “If it’s on the Internet can I use it?”; and “Is it okay to use up to 5% of someone else’s work?”.  Finally, students can learn what steps they need to take to secure a copyright for their work.

How to integrate Copyright Exposed: Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright into your curriculum: Copyright law is important to teach our students of all ages.  As soon as we ask students to create original work, we should be teaching them about copyright.  I always found copyright difficult to teach, students had a hard time understanding what was fair use and when they were violating copyright.  It didn’t help that many of the adults in their lives weren’t model good copyright habits.  When students create their own original work, and you can walk them through the copyright process, it starts to resonate with them more.  Students may think nothing of “borrowing” something off of the Internet for their own use without permission but when they think about someone else claiming the work they created, they start to feel differently about it.  Copyright Exposed is an excellent presentation/site to go through as a class.  It helps answer those “sticky” situations of fair use, owning a copyright, and using content from the Internet.  The site is written in easy-to-understand language so students will have no trouble following along.  Students can navigate this site independently, but I prefer using it with a projector where the whole class can work through copyright together and discuss what they are learning with others.

Tips: I wrote about Cyberbee in 2008, it is another great site for teaching about Copyright!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Copyright Exposed: Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright in your classroom!

Wiglington & Wenks Virtual World

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Fun & Games, Geography, History, inspiration, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Internet Safety, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 13-01-2010

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free virtual worlds

What it is: I absolutely love when I learn about a new site, especially those that I immediately know will be a winner with students.  You know the sites that have incredible graphics, are easy to use, and involve kids in the story (instead of just drill and practice).  Wiglington & Wenks is one such site.  One of the creators of the site @aldricchang alerted me to the new site today via Twitter.

Students are dropped into the middle of a story where they become world travelers to places around the real-world, meeting historical characters, playing brain games, building culture inspired houses, exploring secret locations, and solving ancient mysteries.  There are 100 educational real-world and imaginary places for students to visit from the past, present, and the future.  Wiglington and Wenks was originally a children story book series written by Johan Bittleston.  It has exploded into an online world where students can learn and explore.

free virtual worlds-2

Wiglington and Wenks is so much more than your standard virtual world, it has a rich story line with well developed characters, plot, mystery, and quests.  Students are dropped into the story and invited to participate, learning through exploration, problem solving, and critical thinking.  The world highlights famous real-world landmarks, historical figures, inventions, culture, nature, and wildlife.  Students are motivated to learn more about each as they complete a series of quests.

The story behind the virtual world is about two water rats from England, Wiglington and Wenks, who are in search of a legacy left by Wiglington’s great explorer ancestor.  A series of magic maps guide them as they travel through time and space.  Through a series of events, a time portal was accidentally created that transported famous figures from the past to the future.  All of the historical figures seem to have forgotten who they are.  Students embark on a quest to help Wilington and Wenks find the famous missing characters and recover their lost memories.

Wilglington and Wenks are the main characters of the story.  They are the heroes. There are a host of other characters that further enchant students as they solve the mysteries of this virtual world.

Carto is the map creator who created the magic maps that keep track of geography, cultural evolution, and climate change over time.  Fragments of the map piece together to form a complete real-world map.

Sir Ordy Nace is the curator of the maps at the British Museum.

Filo rat is the head of the Traveling Academy in the town.  He is an inventor, code breaker, and skilled strategist- a genius in every way.  He loves a challenging game of sudoku or master mind.

Scuttle Butt is a search engine.  Ask him a question and he provides a useful list with the most relevant information at the top.  He is Filo Rat’s assistant. (This is an awesome way for students to familiarize themselves for using search engines to solve problems!)

Chacophonous is a crab who also happens to be a conductor.  He is reportedly connected by an ancestor to Beethoven.  He introduces students to classical music.

Walpole the whale makes cross-ocean transportation possible.  He has a terrible sense of direction so students have to give him directions and help guide him.

Every story needs a villain and the Count is the villain of this story.  He is known for using his knowledge of the magic maps for the destruction of the environment along with his side kick Warrior Wolf.

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Historical figures include Thomas Edison, Alexandar Graham Bell, Cleopatra, Confusious, Copernicus, Damo, Emperor Quin, Galileo Galilei, Issac Newton John, Marco Polo, John Rolfe, Nostra Damus, Pocahontas, Wilber Wright, Orville Wright, Vlad Dracula, and many more.

free virtual worlds-1

How to integrate Wiglington & Wenks Virtual World into the classroom: The rich storyline alone makes this site one to bring into your classroom.  Students can do character studies, learn about plot, mystery, and suspense.  Use this site to teach your students about environmental issues such as global warming, forest preservation, protection of marine life, and endangered animals.  This is an immersive learning environment where your students will learn by doing.  As students travel the virtual world, they will learn geography, cultural differences, history, and inventions.  Students are encouraged to think creatively to solve the issues facing the world today.  Wiglington & Wenks would be a great site to introduce to students at the beginning of the year that is used throughout the year for learning.  Make it your goal to solve the mysteries of the magic maps before the end of the year.  Throughout the year students can visit the virtual world, learn about historical figures, famous inventions, and geography.  Hang up a world map in your classroom and keep track of the places that have been visited.  Encourage students to create character cards as they learn about new historical figures, and story characters.  Each student can have their own account but keep track of progress as a class.  Create PSA posters for the classroom as students learn about environmental issues.  Explore more about the inventors and inventions that students come across in the virtual world.  Have students keep a journal of discoveries (on or offline) as they discover new clues.  Have students write newspaper articles about the happenings of the virtual world and it’s characters.   This site can be tied into your curriculum for the year in a variety of ways.

I love the way this site encourages discovery of knowledge, teamwork, and critical thinking. This site will have your students excited about learning the whole year through.  Fridays would make a great day of discovery each week and give students something to look forward to.  Create a single class account and explore Wilington and Wenks as a class each week (or a little each day) using an interactive whiteboard or projector.  Give each student the opportunity to be the navigator of the world.  The other students can take observation notes in a journal about what they see and learn.  If you have classroom computers, cycle your students through the virtual world as a center activity.  In this model each student can have an account.  If you have access to a 1 to 1 environment (one computer for each child) or a computer lab setting on a regular basis, students can each have their own account and solve the mystery individually.  Form small groups where students can discuss their findings and give each other tips and tricks. (Hint: these groups will form whether or not you create them…it is that engaging!)

Wiglington and Wenks is the way that learning should be!



Tips: Read the Wiglington & Wenks books (Amazon link) as a class…the tie into the virtual world will have your students eager to read these books to learn more!

Your students will catch on to the virtual world environment quickly and know more about the characters, games, etc. than you could ever hope to learn.  There is a great guide that will clue you into everything the world offers so that you can keep up with your students. Check it out here.

Leave a comment and share how you are using Wiglington & Wenks Virtual World in your classroom.

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