Augmented Reality for Visual ARts

My favorite use of augmented reality is when it enhances student creations.  Sherri Kushner, a Media Arts Teacher at Chute Middle School recently shared a presentation she had made for NAEA 2014 that astounded me with the creative use of the Aurasma augmented reality app for many amazing student projects. I added it to my Augmented Reality in Education Flipboard magazine, and tweeted the link, but I know that many people prefer to get their information in a variety of ways.  I was so blown away by Sherri’s students and their imaginative use of augmented reality that I don’t want anyone to miss out on these fabulous examples.

For anyone not familiar with using Aurasma, Sherri gives links to the basics of viewing augmented reality with the app, as well as how to create your own auras.  If you would like more information, I also have several tutorial links, including to some great videos from Two Guys and Some iPads, on my Augmented Reality Resource Page. (You can also check out a recent episode of the Two Guys Show in which they interview Aurasma’s Head of Operations, David Stone, here.)

To view the example above, you will need the free Aurasma app.  Follow the channel for Chute Middle School, and point the app viewfinder at the picture.  Be sure to visit Sherri’s presentation to see even more amazing ways to create augmented reality art!

When Was the Last Time You Saw a Mountain Lion on YOUR Playground?

One of the sessions I attended at TCEA 2014 in Austin last week was called, “Global Collaboration in Elementary.”  It was presented by Matt Gomez (@mattBgomez), and largely featured Twitter interactions his kindergarten students had experienced with other classes around the world.

That’s right – Kindergarten.

I work with gifted students in K-5, and I have to say that it would not have occurred to me to try using Twitter with my Kinders.  But, then again, I didn’t see a use for Twitter for myself until about nine months ago.

Matt did an outstanding presentation on the value of social media tools like Twitter for students.  (Here is the link to his presentation handout.) By using a private account, and choosing other like-minded educators to follow and be followed on Twitter, Matt connects his students to children in very diverse regions.  Through regular Tweets, the students have learned about their differences and similarities.  For example, one thing that many schools have in common is recess.  And, sometimes children may suffer the crushing disappointment of being forced to endure indoor recess.  But indoor recess in Texas is generally not the result of a mountain lion being loose on the playground, as a class in Montana tweeted to Matt’s students.  Surprising tweets like these have generated interesting conversations.  The experience has promoted tolerance, geographic awareness, and research skills.

Another unexpected side-effect of the Twitter project, as Matt explained, was the development of empathy in the students.  They care about their “Twitter friends”, and are more aware of global events and their effects.  Matt’s school is in Dallas, and they received Tweets from their partners inquiring about their safety, recently, when Dallas was reported to have several tornadoes.

Matt’s class has also connected with experts through Twitter, such as astronaut Chris Hadfield and local weather reporters.  These experiences have also given the students some inside knowledge about careers that they probably would not find in library books.

The nice thing about Twitter is being able to view a stream of responses, as opposed to using e-mail or other written communication.  Also, it does not have to be “real-time”, as Skype or other types of video chats need to be.  You can set aside a time each day to check out the stream as a class and discuss the comments and questions the students may have.  It’s also a good way to summarize your day before the school day ends.

As a result of Matt’s session, I’ve decided that I definitely would like to try this with my first grade class.  In this class, my students are researching different countries, and I would love to have them connect with classes around the world.  If you are a classroom teacher reading this, are interested in joining our classes on Twitter, and live outside of the USA, please contact me at or @terrieichholz on Twitter to see if we can connect!

UPDATE:  Here is a link from Drew Frank (@ugafrank) with over 270 classes who are active on Twitter and interested in connecting.  You can also fill out the form on this page to add your class to the list!

UPDATE 2:  Here is another link from Kathy Cassidy (via @MattBGomez) of Primary classes that tweet.  For more Twitter resources, check out her page here.

World Book Talk

World Book Talk

Brad Gustafson (@GustafsonBrad if you want to hit him up on Twitter) is a principal in Minnesota.  I’ve referred to him a few times on this blog before, including when I nominated his blog, Adjusting Course, for Best Administrator Blog, and in my post called, “I’d Be Thankful for a Lizard Named Cheesedoodle, Too,” about a video project in which his school participated.

Brad has many ideas for using augmented reality in education, which you can view here.  He can also come up with some pretty cool practical jokes using AR, as evidenced by his appearance on the Two Guys Show.

If you visit Brad’s blog, you might notice a tab at the top that says, “World Book Talk.”  Click on that tab, and you will be invited to join one of Brad’s most ambitious AR projects – and it has nothing to do with discussing encyclopedias.

Brad, along with a colleague, Heather Cooper (@hcooper815), created World Book Talk with the vision of students creating “Book Talk” videos that could be shared with the world through the Aurasma app.  In a nutshell, students submit videos, Brad and Heather upload them to Aurasma Studio along with the trigger images, and then anyone who follows the World Book Talk channel in Aurasma can scan their copy of the book to see the video.

For an example of one of the videos, you can visit the World Book Talk page to see the video that will play when the cover of Zoom, by Istvan Banyai, is scanned using the Aurasma app.

Brad and Heather would love to see submissions from students, authors, and educators all over the globe.  They already have an impressive list of books available, which you can view here.  In addition to the numerous student-created videos, Todd Nesloney (also known as @TechNinjaTodd), a Texas teacher who was recently named by the White House as a Champion of Change, added a video for his book, Spruce and Lucy.   And Jimmy Casas contributed one for the Carol Dweck book, Mindset, that I have mentioned on this blog.

I was excited to see Tuck Everlasting on the list, a book I am currently reading with my 4th graders.  But, alas, there is one hitch in this project.  If a book has had numerous printings, as Tuck Everlasting certainly has, you may not have the same cover that was loaded for the trigger image in Aurasma.  Brad has already encountered this obstacle, and does his best to find as many versions of the book cover as possible to link with the video.  But if you have difficulty scanning a cover with Aurasma (and you are certain you are following the correct channel), then that may be the issue.  In this case, the students of Ms. Zeman’s class also provided a video for the Prologue of Tuck, which worked fine in the several editions that I scanned.

If you are interested in creating a video for the World Book Talk, information is given on the main page.  And if you would like to learn more about the genesis of this project, you can read an interview with Brad that is documented on Monica Babaian’s blog.

This is such a great idea, with enormous potential to effect young readers all over the world.  I hope you will take the time to look scan some of the books listed, and consider having your students contribute a book talk of their own!

For more resources on Augmented Reality in Education, be sure to check out my page of resources and/or my Flipboard magazine.

Newspaper Blackout Poems

A newspaper blackout poem by Austin Kleon

A newspaper blackout poem by Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work, also has a book called Newspaper Blackout.  He recently participated in a Twitter chat, #edbookchat, co-moderated by Chris Couch (@the_explicator), which found its way into my Twitter stream.  Austin, who lives in Austin (fancy that!), has posted some of his poetry on his blog here. He creates one of these each day, and posts them on Instagram.  I find this method of creating poems so intriguing.  To take a piece of writing that is meant to be informative and light on figurative language, and make it into a work of art that speaks deeply and lyrically really appeals to my appreciation for irony, I suppose.  I want to try this with my students, but I’m still working out the logistics (which grade levels, how much to scaffold, etc…)  And then there’s the newspaper.  Do I limit it to certain sections and/or articles?  Or maybe I should start with a Scholastic Weekly Reader, or a website, or a picture on the iPad of a textbook page.  So many possibilities!

Regardless of the educational implications, it’s Phun Phriday, so you don’t have to stick this in a lesson plan.  Just read, and appreciate the talent of Austin Kleon!

(Strangely, right after I saved my draft of this post, I saw a tweet from @PrincipalOgg about a great writing blog.  I followed the link, and found a recent post on “Erasure Poetry.”  I highly recommend you visit “Two Writing Teachers” for some more awesome ideas!)

UPDATE:  After this post was shared on Twitter, Mr. Theriault (@davidtedu) shared this link to a Slideshare about creating Novel Blackout Poetry by Sean Ziebarth (@MrZiebarth).  Thanks for the tip, Mr. Theriault!  And, one of my Tweeps, @ArinKress, was inspired to create her own Newspaper Blackout Poem and share it.  The pic is a bit difficult to read, but it says, “Enough with worrying when falling because we all stumble.”  Love it!

Using ChatterPix Kids to Teach Perspective

ChatterPix Okapi

I should probably confess right now that this lesson was pretty much a bust.

“Then, why are you sharing it?” you say.

Well, like most of my lessons, it was not a complete bust.  There were some “boom” aspects to it.  Plus, I think I now know most of the factors that contributed to the bust, and I want to record them for posterity for the next time I try this idea.

“Oh, I thought you were going to say that you wanted to help your readers avoid all of your mistakes!” you say.

Okay.  That, too.

I have been discussing “Multiple Perspectives” with my 11 GT first graders.  A couple of months ago, word of the ChatterPix Kids app arrived in the Twittersphere, and I thought that this might be the time to have the students try using it.  (I used it, myself, in December to make some Augmented Reality cards.)

So, here is the saga.  The starred portions are where, in retrospect, I’m pretty sure I contributed to the ultimate doom of the project.

To set the scene, I read Who is Melvin Bubble? by Nick Bruel to the class.  This was probably one of the “boomier” parts of my lesson.  In the book, different characters talk about a boy named Melvin Bubble, giving their opinion of him.  The perspectives range from Santa’s point of view that he’s “always on my nice list” to the Tooth Fairy’s opinion that “he has a big head!” I used different voices, and the kids were practically rolling on the floor.

After discussing the book, I asked the kids to divide sheets of paper into fourths.  On each fourth they drew: a self-portrait, a holiday character, a book character, and their favorite animal. I told them to make the pictures big – especially the faces.

Why is it that students never want to use up space with drawings?  They have a whole 1/4 of a paper, and they still draw faces the size of a flea.*

Why did I have them do four pictures? I should have had them do two.  Or one.*

I showed them how to use the ChatterPix app.  So many things went wrong right here.  My Reflector wasn’t working, so I had to show the iPad under the document camera.*  I did not emphasize the importance of zooming in on each pic individually.**  I did not show them how to focus the camera by tapping on the screen.***  I apparently did not emphasize the importance of drawing the mouth on the actual mouth of the picture (resulting in talking chins and cheeks).  ****

Of course, I didn’t realize any of this at the time, so I be-bopped happily around taking pictures as the kids chattered away.*

Later, when I watched and listened to the videos, I realized that I also did not make my point clear about the purpose of the activity.  They were supposed to have each character talk in the first person about them (as in the video embedded below).  Instead, the students talked in the first person about their characters.*  Argghhhh!!

Next class, I gamely tried to rectify all of the above issues.  Thankfully, the new perspective on perspective made a difference.  Horrifyingly, however, one of my examples became an oft-repeated favorite. “And, remember the Tooth Fairy in Melvin Bubble?  Not all of your characters have to say how much they like you.”*

Ergo, 50% of the videos commenced to speak about how much they disliked the student who drew them.*

Oh, and did I mention that my plan was to add every video to Aurasma Studio so the students could take their papers home and the parents could scan them to see the cute videos?*

Oh, and did I mention that I told the kids this was the plan, and told the parents (on our class blog)?******************

Lessons Learned:  do only one or two videos, don’t suggest that your students make disparaging videos about themselves, teach kids that talking mouths look kind of creepy on top of noses and even creepier on pin-sized heads, and never, NEVER reveal your future plans.

On the plus side, the ChatterPix app had them completely engaged for 2 class periods :)

It’s Like a Box of Chocolates – but Not as Caloric

Chocolate Fix Logic Game from ThinkFun (for 8+)

Chocolate Fix Logic Game from ThinkFun (for 8+)

Since I only see most of my students once a week, I have to think ahead when it comes to holidays.  It suddenly struck me that we are in the middle of January, and I haven’t given thought to Valentine’s Day, yet.  So, I culled together a bunch of resources to offer to you in advance.

And finally, I came across this last one, and almost leapt out of my seat.  If any of you participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge this year, then you know how much the students love making new things with boxes!  In fact, I had a parent e-mail pictures of her son this weekend as he fashioned a large box they had received at home into a mini putt-putt course.  According to her, he said, “After GT, I don’t see cardboard the same way.”

So, if you are looking for another Cardboard Challenge to energize your kids (or didn’t get the chance to participate in October), here is a cool idea for a Valentine’s Day Box Project from Amanda at One Extra Degree.