Category Archives: Books

Augmented Reality in the Classroom

photo credit: ETPA via photo pin cc
Ever since I saw a presentation on Augmented Reality at TCEA this year, I have been pumped about using it in my classroom.  However, I haven’t seen a lot of user-friendly applications for every-day teachers yet.  I tried desperately to get AR Sights to work on my Mac at home and on my PC at school, and neither experience lived up to my expectations.  I purchased an AR pop-up book, and though the kids seemed to enjoy it, I did not really feel like it had the impact I desired.
Richard Byrne posted about a new app from PBS called, Fetch! Lunch Rush!, and I suddenly saw the power of AR, and how I could use it in my classroom.  Although this particular game is too basic to use in the Gifted classroom, I can definitely see how activities like this would engage kids.
So, I did a search on Richard’s blog for other mentions of AR, and found a free app called Aurasma.  And, now I can make my own augmented reality layers that will appear whenever my students use the iPad camera on images I select.  My students, too, with a little guidance, can create their own.  Instead of using QR codes, I can make an Interactive Bulletin Board on steroids!
Check out these videos for some live demonstrations of Aurasma:  Aurasma in the Classroom (embedded below), Aurasma for Shakespeare
This would be a really interesting assistive technology for students.  Imagine having images on the pages that students can scan for help with the text, just as the hostess of Aurasma for Shakespeare demonstrates.  This falls nicely into Universal Design for Learning.
I would love to hear from anyone else who is using Aurasma in the classroom!

Aurasma in the classroom from mark herring on Vimeo.

International Dot Day

Mark your calendar for September 15th, which is International Dot Day!  Sponsored by FableVision Learning in coordination with Peter Reynolds, author of The Dot, this is a day on which educators pledge to encourage their students’ creativity.  You can sign up formally to participate in International Dot Day, or you can choose your own way to celebrate this day of imagination.  The website offers ideas for ways in which to make this a memorable day for your students as well as videos from some of last year’s participants.  You can also go to this link for some ideas from Peter Reynolds on how to incorporate his wonderful book into your classroom.

Thanks to Cari Young, librarian at Fox Run Elementary in N.E.I.S.D., and author of The Centered School Library, for this great tip!

Storybird (Reblog)

For the summer, I have decided to use my Tuesday and Thursday posts to reblog some of my favorite posts that some of my readers may have missed the first time around:

As a teacher, do you ever have a moment when no one needs your help, and you are standing in the middle of your classroom wondering what you should be doing?  In my twenty years of teaching, I think that’s happened twice:  when I was student teaching and had no idea what I was supposed to be doing anyway, and today.  I showed my students Storybird, which allows you to choose sets of art to illustrate a story that you write.  I meant for it to be a station on some computers in my classroom, but the students who started at that station didn’t want to leave.  So, I started pulling out laptops until everyone was working on their own stories.  For over an hour, there was silence in my room, and every child was engaged in creating his or her own story.  We had been studying Figurative Language, and the assignment was to create a story with a winter theme that used at least 4 different types of figurative language.

After lunch, I thought the students might be weary of sitting in front of computer screens.  I began saying, “Okay, you have a choice.  You can either continue working on your Storybirds or – ” I didn’t even get to finish.  They unanimously agreed that they wanted to continue.

Storybird is free.  Register as a teacher, and you can add a class of students easily.  The students do not need e-mail addresses to register or log in.  You can view their work at any time, and they can also view the work of other students in the class by clicking on a tab at the top.  They can comment, as can the teacher.  It’s online, and easy to share, so they can show friends and family.  The teacher can post specific assignments or the students can just create.  Collaboration on stories is possible, and reading the stories of others is inspiring.  The art work is charming and lovely.

Pink Bat

Pink Bat, by Michael McMillan, is an inspirational book that I just shared with my 5th graders.  The book is “about turning problems into solutions”.  In a charming story about a plastic red baseball bat that fades with time, the author teaches about the importance of trying to look at problems through a different lens.  Included with the book is a DVD of the author explaining his message.  You can also find that video here.  We were able to connect the story to another video that was recently brought to my attention through e-mail.  Ask your students to brainstorm their own “pink bats”, and share a few of yours!

An Awesome Book

An Awesome Book was recently featured on the blog iLearn Technology, by Kelly Tenkely.  This book, written by Dallas Clayton for his son, is about dreaming big and dreaming different.  It is about being creative and not restricting yourself to society’s norms.  Clayton originally self-published the book, unable to find anyone to take on the project.  After making an impact around the world, he was finally contacted by a major publisher.  The book is now available for purchase at major retailers.  What is fabulous, though, is that Clayton and the publisher also agreed to make the book available for free online.  You can go here to view the book and a short video of the author.  Kelly Tenkely has a few recommendations for how this resource can be used in the classroom on her blog.  This book will inspire you and your students!

Bembo’s Zoo

Bembo’s Zoo is a book available at Amazon.  But it is also an amazing website that uses flash animation to delight the viewer with animals created from the letters that spell their names.  Visually, it is very appealing, and especially great for use on interactive white boards.  To use it for a learning activity, you might want to try showing it to your students, and then challenging them to create their own animals out of letters.  Extending further, some students might want to draw other objects using letters, or even create their own alphabet book with a different theme – such as inventions.  The app for iDevices, TypeDrawing, could be used for a similar activity.

Thick Questions

This site has downloadable posters for “Thick” and “Thin” questions.  Beth Newingham has also provided bulletin board ideas and question prompts to encourage “thick” questions.  If you have time, click on the “Home” link to find out more about her class, and to see how she organizes her classroom.  You can also get more information on how she manages “Reading Partnerships” in her classroom.