Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Spice Up Lessons with Augmented Reality

Educators across the country are using Augmented Reality to bring their lessons to life.  Augmented Reality (AR) provides an opportunity to digitally enhance the real world. Before we jump to the lesson creation, let’s go over the lingo.

Aurasma - a leading AR platform. This includes the Aurasma app and Aurasma Studio website.  The app is available in the iTunes App store and Google Play.
Aurasma Studio - an online site where you can build Auras.
Trigger Image - the image that you point the app at to see the digital content.
Overlay - this is the digital content that users see when they point the app at the Trigger Image. Usually overlays are images or videos.
Aura - auras are created when you join the Trigger Image and Overlay in Aurasma Studio.  
Channels - You create channels to organize your Auras. Users will need to follow your channel to see your Auras.

How do you create an Aura?
Set up an account on Aurasma Studio.
Determine your Trigger Image and Overlays. The best images are 480X600 pixels.  
Upload your Trigger Images and Overlays into Aurasma Studio.
Create your Aura in Aurasma Studio by joining the Trigger Image and Overlay.  
Assign your Aura to your Channel.

How do your students see the Aura you created?
First they need to download the Aurasma app.
Then they need to follow your channel. Use the magnifying glass in the app to search and follow your channel.  

My first lesson
I’m not going to lie to you, creating an AR lesson does require some front loaded work.  The benefits, though, are worth it. The first AR lesson I created was with our 5th grade Social Studies teacher. 5th grade Social Studies has a standard that requires students to know how to contact their elected representatives. Generally, this involves a boring web search for their addresses. So, we decided to spice it up with AR.

First we chose 6 elected officials, 2 local, 2 state and 2 national. I did an advance Google search to find images free to use and downloaded pictures of each official.  

I then created short iMovies for each person. The iMovies were just titles that gave the person’s name, a little about their work, where they work and how to contact them.  

Then I uploaded both to Aurasma Studio. I created a channel and then created the auras.  I set the overlay video to loop so the students would see it over and over.  They were recording the information on a worksheet so they needed ample time to get the information.  

We used five school iPads for the lesson. I knew that all the iPads had Aurasma but I had to go to each one and subscribe to my channel. Student could do this step but I knew the teacher was tight on time so I did it for them.  

I printed pictures of the 6 officials and we posted them in the computer lab and the teacher’s room. Groups of students moved from picture to picture watching the aura and recordinging information. They had record the person’s name, their office and address. They also had to determine if they were a local, state or national representative.

Everything I had heard about AR was about how wonderful it was.  The demonstrations I had seen were awesome.  And those things are true.  But creating the Auras was not an intuitive as I had expected. I started with the app, thinking I could create straight from there.  You can create Auras from the app if you have the Trigger Image and Overlay on that device.  I watched several tutorials from www.twoguysandsomeipads.com that were super helpful. But I still couldn’t make my Auras work. So I jumped on a Google Hangout with my friend, Andrea Keller. Andrea created an entire Christmas Tree with AR ornaments.  She told me about the correct size picture. I used PicMonkey to resize the images and started again.  Then it worked perfectly! Creating content can be time consuming as well. My videos were short, about 12 seconds, and took just a minute to create. If you have access to content for your Overlays, creating the Auras will be much quicker.

I am so glad I learned how to create Auras. Especially for this particular lesson. The students enjoyed learning the material in a new way and moving from picture to picture.  Now I’m ready to search for more ways to use AR in the classroom. Have you used AR in your class? Tell us how in the comments so we can learn from you!

This article first appeared on Getting Smart 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Just Can't Get Enough #TCEA14

I left #TCEA14 wanting more.  This is usually true but it was a painful realization this year.  I did not get to do enough...not enough sessions, not enough exhibit hall, not enough conversations.  Not enough anything!

Wednesday started with CAMP-SIG breakfast.  I had never attended a CAMP-SIG event before.  CAMP-SIG is a special interest group for campus technology specialists and classroom teachers.  I was a bit disappointed by the speaker but I met some great people.  Up next was the opening session with Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes.  I was really looking forward to this session because she has a new book about boys.  I am surrounded by boys so I need all the help I can get.  Again, I was disappointed and distracted by the use of Comic Sans on her slides.  Some of you will really understand this and the rest will think I'm a terrible snob.  But seriously, I could not take her serisoulsy after seeing those Comic Sans slides.  Which is awful because she had really good information when I did concentrate.

The highlight of Wednesday was the TEC-SIG luncheon.  I was able to sit at a table with some of my favorite people and laugh and enjoy most of lunch.  The speaker was Brad Fountain.  He was wonderful! The thing he said that really stuck with me is that we spend 80% of our time on launch and 20% on sustaining the initative and we need to flip that stat!  I spent the rest of the afternoon volunteering in the SIG booth. I was able to help 5 or 6 people sign up for special interest groups.

Thursday was half great sessions, half almost great sessions.  I'll stay positive and tell you about the 2 great sessions.  First up was Flipping with iTunes U.  Josh Woolbright is the athletic trainer at Muleshoe ISD.  He is awesome.  I tried to talk to him about getting on the Twitters.  I hope he'll be on soon.  You can find his presentation here on iTunes U.  Greg Garner spoke about creating school/classroom culture by changing the physical space.  He had create photos of examples from his school.  It really made me think about what a classroom/school should look like.

Friday Creating Student Legacy with Carrie Ross.  As usual, Carrie had great information and left me thinking about what I can do to help my students leave a legacy.  The closing keynote was John Quinones of ABC News.  He was, hands down, one of the best keynote speaker I've ever heard.  Once again, I was left thinking about my impact on my students and teachers.

I didn't present this year but I feel like I served effectively in the SIG booth by connecting educators to a group that will help them learn.  But I do feel like I needed one more day.  I think next year, I'll go down early for one of the academies.  I did get to spend some time visiting and thinking big with some members of my PLN but I didn't add to my PLN.  I have several "sorry we couldn't connect" tweets on Friday.

I don't regret volunteering in the SIG booth but I don't think I'll sign up for such a big block of time.  I feel like I really missed out on some time that I could have been connecting with my PLN.  And, looking back, I realize that I was getting sick so I wasn't on my A game.

TCEA is ALWAYS worth my time and money. This year was no exception.  It was just a bit different.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Legacy of Love

On Monday I will do something I've never done before, attend the funeral of a co-worker. Mrs. Cheryl Wharton passed away Thursday. Cheryl and I came to Sunnyvale at the same time.  She was an aide in the special education department.  Cheryl worked with special ed students her entire career, 22 in a previous district and 5 with us in Sunnyvale.  Cheryl was a funny lady. She ALWAYS participated in our spirit days and had a quick smile.

When we returned from Christmas break, Cheryl knew her time was short.  But she wanted to keep coming to work.  Because she loved her students.  She took ownership and responsibility for their education.  She loved her co-workers.  She loved her husband and daughter.  She loved her grandson fiercely.

Cheryl leaves behind a legacy of love.  

And that's my goal as well.  I want the students and teachers to know how much I love them.  To know how much I love doing my job for them.

Not all of us are touchy feely lovey dovey types. But you show your students you love them everyday in your own way.

When you stop what you're doing to really listen to them between classes.
When you ask about their outside activities.
When you show up to their outside activities.
When you call them on their crap in a loving way (this applies most in middle schools).
When you encourage their interests.
When you help them discover their passions.
When you share your passion with them.
When you make sure every kid can go on the field trip, even if it means paying yourself.
When you do this.
And a million other things you do every day without even thinking about it.

As we begin this month of love, let's consider our legacy of love.  And be purposeful about building it.

I am blessed to have known Cheryl Wharton and feel her legacy of love.