During a staff meeting, I shared out some of the challenges I perceived during the implementation of virtual field trips in a lesson. To paint the classroom picture, students participated in three rotations. Two rotations included an independent activity. One of the rotations was a virtual field trip with the teacher as a guide. The first day I implemented this rotation schedule it was crazy. Good Crazy. Students on the field trip shouted, "Wow, the pyramid is huge. " The students on the virtual field trip made sounds of excitement. While the other students in their other rotations were constantly looking over. I could see the curiosity take over the whole group. The students left the classroom talking about the field trip to the Pyramids of Giza.
My biggest challenge so far has been classroom management. Teachers at the staff meeting encourage me to prepare other guides. I quickly begin scouting guides in each sixth grade class. I had over 15 guides apply in the first day! To my excitement the guides were eager to learn and take students on field trips. I worked with the guides as they practiced setting up viewers to guiding a virtual field trip. Guides in learning had to pass a final test to be selected. In sixth grade we have at least 3 Spanish guides and 8 English guides. So far our guides have been working with sixth grade and kinder. We are hoping to get them into more classrooms!
Students conference with teacher to propose field trips that would supplement curriculum. For example, a kinder teacher request a google expedition on animals. Sixth grade guides downloaded and prepared oral guide script for kinder classroom for a field trip to the San Diego Zoo and Great Barrier Reef. Sixth grade guides go in pairs to conduct field trip.
Google Expeditions App IOS
The day has arrived! Equipment is setup and ready for implementation. This day would not be possible without the support of Calexico Unified School District. I would like to thank everyone who has pitched in to make this a dream come true. Many late nights researching the best equipment and apps occurred to implement this project.
I am very excited and nervous to implement this project. In order to test the effectiveness of this intervention, I will be observed during the first lesson by my mentor teacher Heidi De La Cruz. With her feedback I am hoping to improve this project so that students benefit the most from virtual field trips.
The lesson is simple and is commonly known as "centers or rotations." The classroom is set up in three long tables shaped by five desk facing each other. At the end of each table there is a single desk. This setup allows movement from one rotation to the next for all 33 students. Music plays softly in the background. When the music stops all students move to the next rotation. Groups are established before so students know which group they belong to. At the beginning of the lessons, I go over the menu or instructions. Students have written instructions on a small white board in short hand and assignment details in LMS. Rotation 2 which is the virtual field trip simple states Miss V. In the other two rotations students are completing a web quest about the Pyramids of Giza. In another rotation, students are exploring a site to find clues about Ancient Egypt. Lastly, all students would go on a virtual field trip to the Pyramids of Giza with their teacher.
As I write this I realized how I forgot about the most important factor, curiosity. After implementing, the lesson I realized that it was unreal for me to expect all students to work independently or in groups as they usually do when there is a new, shiny thing in the classroom. I saw there faces light up when they got ready for their turn to go on the field trip. There were so excited to share what they saw. They made comparisons to the web quest they were doing. Others couldn't wait to share with their friends. Some students asked me how the pictures could be real. They had so many questions. I couldn't believe the engagement during the lesson.
In conclusion, virtual field trips provide a unique experience for students. The visual content available allows for them to connect to language. Many of my students are English Language Learners and with the field trips they are able to create a connection with difficult or new words. Additionally, many of students are learning about other places in the world through these field trips. Many students compared the geography from the Pyramids of Giza to the geography of our community. Other students became interested in finding our water sources. Others wanted to know more about the structural framework of the pyramids. Overall, virtual field trips do impact learning and I am hoping to continue my research to see how I can combine writing and reading strategies to promote language acquisition.
CUSD Project Proposal
Currently, students in calexico face a big challenge when it comes to fieldtrips. Access to field trips is limited by funds, time and geographic location. My idea is enrich the social studies and language arts curriculum using google cardboard virtual reality apps through android os smartphones. If I receive the CUSD Innovator grant I would purchase 15 unlocked smartphones and 15 mattel viewers. My goal is download virtual reality apps that allows students to participate in interactive social studies lessons. I will need to download applications on each smartphone for students to go on a virtual tour. In sixth grade, the social studies curriculum focus on ancient civilizations. One essential standard is for students to understand the relationship between geographical factors and accomplishments of a civilization. Using virtual reality augments students’ schema of geographical factors. For instance, this year was very difficult because many of my students had not travel outside of calexico. During social studies, students had difficulties comprehending the importance of mountains, climate, vegetation in relation to the success of a civilization. In science, students struggle with identifying the characteristics of biomes. In language arts, we read a futuristic dystopian novel and many students had difficulties with visualizing a skyscrapers, rapids, railroads, mansion, etc. With the help of virtual reality students can explore these places and build schema about the physical world around them. Additionally, the common core English language art standards identify presentation of knowledge through the use of multimedia platforms. Virtual reality quests apply to the four ISTE student standards. The ISTE student standards these lessons will target: 1.C, 2.C, 3.A, 3.B, 3.C, 3.D and 4.D. The ISTE teacher standards these lessons will target: 2.A, 2.B, 2.C, 2.D and 3.A. As an educator, I am willing to train others to use virtual reality to enrich their lessons. My goal is to create a curriculum for the sixth grade team to use. Also, my goal is to make myself and other staff comfortable with using virtual reality so that our students can create quests as well. Furthermore, I would like to increase my experience with android devices as my expertise lie with mac products. Lastly, my motivation to bring virtual reality to CUSD is to give students the opportunity to venture outside their usual surroundings and learn about the world they live in.
This summer Calexico Unified School District is providing students with a unique opportunity. Code Your Adventure is a course designed for students who are looking to improve their writing while learning how to code. There are three summer groups available from 2nd to 7th grade. Groups are organized based on dominate age within groups. Summer courses last six weeks and meals are provided. Students will be using various applications and devices to complete coding and writing projects. Open house will showcase student projects. Parents this is an excellent opportunity for your child to experience elementary coding and writing.
Students filled in nervously on the first day of class. The classroom was set up with mazes, iPads, Chrome books, paints, storyboards, and robots. Classes started with students creating login credentials for storybird.com. Students were introduced into applications and devices that were used during Code Your Adventure. Check out the Activities Outline Calendar for fourth and sixth grade group.
Currently, Calexico Unified School District is offering a competitive grant for teachers. This year teachers across the district are encourage to apply for CUSD Innovator grant. For many teachers this is a dream come true. Thinking about a project that will improve your classroom? Are your struggling to get technology equipment for an awesome project? The CUSD Innovator grant is providing funding for innovative projects that will transform learning in the classroom. Additionally, one key element in your project is the ability to replicate. CUSD is looking for projects that can be used in other classrooms and school sites. Your application needs the following: 1 min teaser video, grant application form and an essay outlining project. CUSD Innovator opportunity is open for single or group applicants.
If selected, you will need to present your project to a panel and audience. Final grant recipient will be selected by panel of judges and audience votes. A grant recipient will be selected from K - 6 and 7 - 12.
Interested in getting your project off the ground? Also check out:
One of the amazing perks of being a teacher are professional learning communities. As a teacher, you are isolated from your colleagues during the day or busy weeks. Most of a teacher's day is spent in classroom or running in and out of the workroom. Making time for PLC's allow teachers to share ideas and concerns they have about their practice. Fortunately, my grade level meets informally several times through the week and formally once a week. In those meetings, our grade level team discusses many items. During our formal meets, we discuss a biweekly agenda sent by our principal. We prepared for events related to our grade level. During our informal meets, we plan schedules, interventions and discuss student data. As a team, we discuss new strategies or tech tricks that we are implementing. Since our grade level team has a range of teacher experiences, background and interests our PLC's focus on sharing strategies to improve our practice.
With the digital age there many ways to connect with educators around the globe. Connecting with teachers on twitter, google plus, pinterest, Google educator groups, blogs, and teacher sites are great sources for PLC's outside of your site. On twitter, teachers can follow hashtags or users to get latest strategies. You can join a conversation by following a hashtag. Check chat calendar to jump in on the conversation. Interested in a specific topic? Join a google plus collection or community. Want to lead or participate with local educators? Then Google Educator groups is for you. Lastly, pinterest helps you collect ideas, blogs, or sites in one central location. There are many perks to being a teacher but one of the best is having an awesome professional learning community whether it is a live one or a digital one.
Coding has become a trend in education. Yet, it is not the first time that computer programming has influence classrooms. When I was in fourth grade, I had my first male teacher. I remember being curious and anxious the night before the first day of fourth grade. I discovered many new interests that year. Little did I know that my teacher was one of kind. He encouraged students to follow their interests. In his class, I read the entire collection of Calvin and Hobbes, Baby Blues, and Zits comics. Additionally, he had six apple computers. I remember a green screen and playing games like pipe dream. I signed up for a computer club not knowing that it would be one of the most challenging clubs ever!
In the library, Mr. Rod taught us Logo programming. Known to us fourth graders as the computer game with the turtle. At the time, I enjoyed the time I spent with my friends figuring out how to move the turtle.
As we continue to move forward into a technology infused classrooms, it is critical that we teach computer science concepts. Our students come into our classrooms as consumers of technology. Most students understand the devices serve as game or communication platforms. Yet, teachers have a golden opportunity to teach students about the implications of computer science and programming. For instance, teachers can teach grammar or vocabulary through coding. Coding requires an understanding of syntax, mathematic reasoning and logical sequence to create movement in a digital image. Coding programs like Code.org or Code Monkey give teacher access to computer science curriculum. Coding programs help students conceptualize algorithm processing of computers. For example, in code monkey students must write a code for a monkey to grab a banana. There is an opportunity for trial and error. Students navigate through levels that increase in complexity. While Code.org provides students with blocks versus sentence writing. Students must place blocks in order to create code. Both programs provide user-friendly interfaces. These programs are ideal for students in primary grades. Once students have mastered the concept of coding, student can move to using code to create their own products. Students can create websites, moving gifs, animations, games and applications. If you are planning on introducing coding, check out the following videos and twitter feeds.
Creativity is a skill that people are quick to say, “You are either have it or not.” Most often, we can forget that creativity is a skill and not an inherited trait. Like any skill, we have to create environments and activities that foster a skill’s growth. For instance, in a graduate level course at the University of San Diego, our professor displayed a zoomed image. She asked us to write down what we thought the image was. After we shared our guesses with our peers. Once we shared our guesses became more radical and creative. Our conversation was rich with our creative guesses of this image. The professor zoomed out the image and we could see that many of us had ventured far from what this image could be. I have used this strategy with my students in second grade. At first, students had similar responses. As I continue to use this activity, I can identify my students’ schema as they explain their guesses. This creativity building exercises gives student the opportunity to venture out of the box. Additionally, students’ self-efficacy about creativity changes positively. As educators, we have to create environments and activities that foster creativity.
Another fragment of fostering creativity is teacher feedback. After learning about growth and fixed mindset, it is important to understand the importance of word choice. For instance, asking open-ended questions can lead to a rich discussion versus recall responses. Statements like “I can see you worked really hard” can help foster student’s ability to continue working hard. Statements that recognize student effort or challenge assumptions can help students reflect critically. Sometimes saying it to a student is not enough. Writing growth mindset statements on their work or leaving a digital comment can increase students’ creative output.
Steps for Guess Image Lesson
1. Select an image to show your students.
2. Save the image with a random name and do not save on your desktop
3. Make sure to zoomed image ready to go without students seeing.
4. Display image to students
5. Students discuss with a partner or group
6. Whole class discussion
7. Reveal Image
Some tips for the creativity-building lesson are:
· Pick a large image with lots of color and variation in texture
· Make sure to use different types of images (landscapes, food, cartoons, etc.)
· Allow time for students to share with a partner and class discussion
· Give students appropriate response time to explain their creative logic
Augmented reality appears to have potential in a class that has one to one devices. I would like to use augmented reality for exhibition night at school. The students’ posters and hard copy projects would serve as the secret image to unlock a student video. I am thinking of sending a message to parents about downloading the application on their mobile devices before attending the exhibition. It would be neat to use in a class where all students have devices. Currently, at my site the teacher is the only one with a device. If all students had devices, I would like to use this a form of creating virtual bulletin boards. Instead of the teacher creating class posters for specific subjects, I would have students create short videos or haiku decks that contain important information. I would make simple labels with the title of the poster and then let the students create the virtual poster. After the virtual posters, I would have the students have a gallery walk to learn about the different posters. The aurasma application would be ideal to replace science posters. Another way to use the application would be to create a timeline to go over historical events. I would have students recreate important events on video and tag them to a date on the timeline. There are so many projects that be showcased using this application.
Michelle Villasenor is a elementary teacher that focuses on educational technology and student-centered learning. She holds a Masters of Education in Curriculum Instruction from University of San Diego.