Friday, October 13, 2017

Google Expedition Augmented Reality in the Classroom

Augmented Reality is having digital images in the physical environment viewed through a device.  One of our second graders says, "It's a real world and a fake world. It's really cool and I don't think there would be a hurricane on a sunny day." Her class participated in the viewing of 'Forces of Nature', so they had a chance to experience a natural disaster up close.  They saw a hurricane, a tornado swirl, an volcano erupt, and the movement of tectonic plates all in the classroom. 

I signed up for Google Expedition AR Pioneer Program back in May 2017 and the expedition team was in New York in September so they came to visit our school.  I was super excited! The associates arrived an hour earlier before the students to set up two classrooms. They had to map the room and "leave" the objects in a few open areas. Then the teachers came to get a brief lesson on how to use the devices and what to anticipate. Due to the age restrictions, only grades 2 to 5 got to participate. 

There is a variety of AR experiences the teachers can choose from: Solar System, Landforms, Circulatory/Immune/Respiratory System, DNA & RNA, Animals, and many more.  The students were psyched about the experience and related it to Pokemon Go. Our favorites were the Solar System, Circulatory System, and Animals.  We were in awe when we saw the Sun, Moon, Earth, and Saturn right above us.  We zoomed into the rings around Saturn. In the Circulatory System, it was cool to see the oxygen and blood travel through the atrium and ventricle of the heart. The younger students were thrilled to see a deer, salamander, and lobster in the aisles of the classroom.  We also saw a planaria, aka flatworm for the first time that day! Yuck!

Since this is just the beginning there is some limitation to the depth of each experience but I can imagine what AR can bring to the classroom in the future.  It can take a difficult topic in science such as the function of the heart and make it more of a reality for the students to visually see, hear, and "touch" the object in order to enhance their understanding.  Overall, we had a good experience and look forward to what's to come with augmented reality.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Symbaloo- A useful homepage on browsers

Symbaloo is a visually appealing, accessible, and editable website of all your favorite links saved on the cloud.  During my first year of teaching technology, I was constantly putting saved links in our public folder and the students would spend a lot of time clicking through to find these links.  Also, it was difficult for our kindergarteners and first graders to read so I would either have to spell out the link or walk around to open the folder for 25 to 32 of them.  That's time wasted! So I came across Symbaloo, which is a bookmarking service on the cloud.  Symbaloo allows you to create a pretty page of tiles and fill each tile with the link to your favorite website or access to docs, slides, or PDFs saved on the cloud. You can even choose your own icon so it's simpler to tell younger students to click on the "owl" page or "letter Z" page.

Below is a quick video on how to add a tile on your Symbaloo page simply clicking on the tile and typing in the website then choosing the readily available icon or a symbol.  Afterward, the most important step is to remember to click the curved arrow to upload it to the site.

The next thing I did was add it as a homepage to my browsers.  I particularly like Chrome because it's faster and more seamless, but Internet Explorer and Firefox can perform the same tasks. Take the link of the Symbaloo webmix and open up a browser.  Paste the link in the address bar and then click enter.  When the page is up, click on the three dots to the right hand side and click on "Settings".  Scroll down to "On Startup" and choose the third dot "Open a specific page or set of pages" and choose "Use current page."  When that's complete, I close the browser and open a new one to test if Symbaloo opens up and it's all set for my students! This is simple and saves a lot of time, definitely highly recommended.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

4215 Google CS First Storytelling Projects

Made with Padlet

Pixel Art

Our students learned that pixels are tiny squares that makes up an image.  Afterward, we used Make8BitArt and some inspired pixel images to recreate our own.  They worked diligently and the images came out very artistic!