Thursday, October 30, 2014

Aurasma is amazing

When you hear someone say augmented reality, you may imagine a future time where hologram phones beam the person you're speaking with right into your livingroom. While we're not there yet, augmented reality is a real and useful tool for learning and sharing information.

Through Aurasma, a free iPad app, students in 6th grade created video overlays for their wall display of frequently misspelled words.  Aurasma works by using a still image as a trigger point. When you're logged into the app and you hover over the trigger image, the student-created video content begins playing automatically and appears to be hovering in space above the trigger.

For FSCU teachers, you can access our instruction sheet through this link.

In the case of this 6th grade group, students were creating the overlays or "auras" but there are lots of ways that teacher-created auras could be useful.  For example, if your students have access to a device with the Aurasma app at home or in school, they can use them as an extra helper in their independent work. The teacher can create a video demonstrating how to work through a math problem and when the student hovers their device over the problem, the teacher's explanation video would appear to help them. Conversely, students could each create an aura of themselves working through a problem and then have a classmate watch it and confirm if they did it correctly.

Unlike using a QR code and code reader to take you to a specific URL, the Aurasma app contains the video or animation in one place and can be kept private or public at the users' discretion. Augmented reality and Aurasma are being used to enhance customer experiences. Check out the way Marvel Comics has incorporated it into their content:

Try hovering your Aurasma app over logos of most professional sports teams and instantly find info on the team, key players or the team's twitter feed. Corporate marketing is already diving into augmented reality- give your students the tools and knowledge to create this content themselves!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Looking for a way to edit pictures or create illustrations in the cloud? For Chrome users, there is free and easy way with the SumoPaint app from the Chrome Web Store. There are hundreds of tools available without the need to download anything.

This free app allows users to create, manipulate and export images with ease.  The learning curve may seem steep because there are just so many options available, but there's a SumoPaint YouTube channel with tutorials on everything you may want to do from basic to advanced creation and editing. If you've had any experience with PhotoShop, you should be able to jump right into creating with this robust tool.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Getting Started with iPads in Kindergarten

For the first time bringing out iPads in kindergarten, we decided to make it a "Teacher Table" center that groups of four would rotate through. This worked well since work centers are already a part of the classroom routine. With only 10-15 minutes per group, we were able to cover some basics and allow the students to focus on working with one app.

Students first washed and dried their hands (it was kindergarten after snack time). When they first sat down, I had the stack of iPads in front of me and introduced the home button. Although many students had already used iPads, this common language of calling it the "home button" is important to clarify. Then I gave each student an iPad and once they'd swiped it on, had them practice with the volume button. We set all of the iPads to mute and talked about why this was important if we didn't have headphones and were all using our own iPads.
For the first app, we used the free Geoboard. Since actual geoboards were one of the other stations, it was the perfect time to talk about how they were similar and also discuss the differences. This free app never runs out of rubber bands, they never break, they can stretch an infinite amount and the shapes can be colored in.

That's it. We didn't use any bells or whistles, there were few directions and no one was named the winner, but it didn't matter. The students were creating patterns, shapes and designs of their own and challenging their friends to do the same.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

VT PBS LearningMedia

Want a place where you can search over 87,000 streaming videos, activities, images, website links, lesson plans and students printables by National or Common Core Standards, grade level and specific subject areas? Would you like access to all of this for FREE?
VT PBS LearningMedia is an amazing resource that is available for FREE to VT educators and their students. They are currently featuring resources for National Anti-Bullying Month (October), but the range of video content and concepts covered is truly amazing. There's even the option to build lessons and quizzes on the site and assign them to your students. The lessons & videos will stream on iPads & Chromebooks too!

From Martha Speaks & Kids In Motion to NOVA & the Ken Burns Collection, content and supporting materials are organized and searchable. Go to VT PBS LearningMedia, create a free account and get started!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Looking for a new way to allow your students to practice their online reading comprehension, analysis of infographics, charts and maps? Need read-aloud support for differentiation? Take a look at ThinkCERCA's free option. Although the free version does not have the same level of depth and complexity that the subscription one does, as a starting point, it's extremely user-friendly and has authentic texts in leveled bands from 3rd to 12th grade.

It takes only a few minutes to explore and will give your students valuable experience in reading for understanding online and allow them to practice the type of multiple-choice questions that they will encounter when taking the SBAC.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Google Classroom

It has never been easier to go paperless in your classroom. Google Classroom is now available to all Google Apps for Education schools and allows seamless integrating of your Google Drive, online class discussion, collaboration and more. For a quick guide to getting started, check out this video:

For more ideas and suggestions for use, check out these two excellent blog posts:
20 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom
3 Different Things You Can Do With Google Classroom
If you're ready to get started and would like my help, please let me know!