Hi my name is Mary, and I am in 6th grade. The other day, Mrs. Malespina introduced the class to Aurasma through a video (watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frrZbq2LpwI) and in it there was a picture in the newspaper. Inside the picture you could see a tennis player playing at Wimbledon. The curator held up his phone and scanned the picture, and almost immediatley the woman started moving and you could hear her talking. My first thought was that it was exactly the way J. K. Rowling described the wizard newspapers in Harry Potter. I was so fascinated by this that I started experimenting with a smartphone. It was so cool! There were kinks, but most of them worked. Mrs. Malespina even showed us how to make them!
After class I came up to Mrs. Malespina and asked her about it. I was upset because I did not own a smartphone or an ipad, which is required to use Aurasma. Mrs. Malespina showed me the online version called Aurasma Studio, which allows you to do more detailed overlays and even adding more than one. This morning I made my own Aura on the cover of a Harry Potter book. For the overlay I added a video of J.K. Rowling talking about her new Harry Potter game called Pottermore. (See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEu6fNbjbO4) It was supposed to take you to her webpage when the video is finished, but since I don't have a smartphone, I could not test it.
I got to school and told Mrs. Malespina. She was very excited that I was making videos. Then my friend Hanna asked me to show her how to do it. So we set the trigger image as the first Harry Potter book, and added the overlay as a video on J.K. Rowling that Hanna made for an author study project. Mrs. Malespina walked by and was so...happy that one student was teaching another, that she started taking photos.
I think that Aurasma is an amazing way to get information quickly. It is fun to use as a tool of learning, and as an activity to pass the time.
Today was one of those days that I truly love my job!
Today my students learned about the amazing augmented reality app called Aurasma.
Thanks to my friend Sandra Paul the Director of Technology for the Sayreville School District, I learned about this free app a few weeks ago. She told me about how one of her librarians, Danielle DeCarolis, was using it in her grad class at Seton Hall University and was starting to use it in her K-3 library.
After going home and researching the app more I became addicted and saw so many amazing potential uses in schools. As one of my students said today, "Aurasma is like combining YouTube and Instragram and QR codes all together into one really cool thing." I will never do it justice by writing about it. Aurasma is truly one of those things you need to see to understand.
Here is the link to the TED talk by Aurasma's founders which I showed to my students today. I wish you could have seen the look of amazement on their faces when they watched the video. It was one of those moments that all teachers love to see.
After we watched the TED talk I explained to the students that we would be making our own Auras and the kids were so excited! I showed the students some of the Auras that I made using the students' Animoto videos that they made for their author study units and used books by each author as triggers. I also made a few videos about the library and used the different areas of the library as triggers. All of our Auras can be found by searching and following the South Orange Middle School Channel on the Aurasma app. The kids could hardly control their excitment when I showed them the Auras. They all wanted their Animoto video to be an Aura and were even more excited when I told them they would be learning how to do it themselves.
I then showed the students the app by hooking up my iPhone to the Smartboard. I allowed our students who had smart devices to take them out and download the Aurasma app. I love that our school has a BYOD policy in place. It really made the experience so much better for my students to be able to have enough devices to look at all the Auras. We made sure that students who did not have devices were paired with ones that did so no one was left out of the fun.
I also showed the students ways to make Auras using their devices and the app. Within minutes students were making their own Auras and showing them to other students.
Over the next few weeks I will be working with the team 6B students to make Auras for their ET project in Science Class. The students will be designing Aliens that can live on different planets that they have studied previously. In the past students would have given a PowerPoint presentation explaining their ET and why they designed it that way. Now we are going to have the students make a video to explain their ET and then use the ET they designed as the trigger. When a person scans the ET with the Aurasma app they will see the video of the student talking about his or her ET.
We are also planning on using Aurasma for a historical fiction picture unit and a Scavenger Hunt for incoming 6th graders on the first day of school. Stay tuned for more information on those adventures.
The students had so much fun today and can't wait to begin making their Auras. I heard many say, "I can't wait to go home and show my parents." I know it was the talk of the dinner table tonight and will be for days to come. I love days like this when the excitement for learning is so palpable!
Watching the excitement of my students today is why I love my job!
I spent the day in training on the Charlotte Danielson model and tomorrow I will be participating in a learning walk to put some of what we learned into practice. A large portion of the day was spent talking about the benefit of teachers learning from other teachers.
As part of this training we were asked to read Charlotte Danielson book Talk about Teaching! Leading Professional Conversations which does a really good job explain not only why teachers should learn from other teachers, but gives ideas on how to make that happen.
I am excited to get the chance to go into another teachers classroom tomorrow and look at what they are doing. I am looking forward to learning from them and also getting a chance to come up with different ways to ask the questions to get them to learn from us and what we saw.
Too often in education observations are a got you game where administrators come in observe you teaching and then write up what they liked or did not like, and that is it. There is no real way to really learn and change or grow as a teacher.
As a teacher, I always welcome other teachers into my classroom. This year I have been lucky enough to have 3 sets of librarians, a director of technology from different school systems along and 2 students teachers come in to watch and learn from me. This is along with the administrators in my building, my administrator, the superintendent, both assistant superintendents, the head of PR and some members of the press, and also some parents. That would many different people in the classroom would scare most people. I welcome it. I enjoy getting to show some of the things that I am doing with my students, and I also always learn something from the person who is observing me.
I wish though that I had a chance to go and see what others were doing. Some of the best learning experiences, I have come from when I can spend time talking and learning from my peers. All to often in schools we are not given the time to do that and it is sad.
I hope in the future we an educational community realize that we need to give teachers more time in their schedule to learn from other teachers and observe the things they are doing in their classrooms. It is so beneficial!
I am taking a graduate class to get my supervisory certification and am in the process of writing a paper on what it takes to be a good teacher. I did the research and found some really great scholarly articles on the topic. Including the This We Believe Statement from AMLE.
I also decided to ask my students on edmodo about what they thought makes a good teachers and school. Their answers blew me away. You can do all the studies in the world and comply tons of data. That is all great and important but a lot of the time we forget to ask our students. They are the ones who are the "consumers" why are we scared to ask them what they think? When you take the time to do this you will learn so much from them!
Here are some of the thoughtful, amazing answers that my middle school students gave to the question what makes a good teacher and school.
Don't you just love what they had to say! It follows all the research and at the same time is so honest and open!
Listen to your students! Ask them their thoughts! They will tell you and I promise you will learn a lot!
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Our students are working on an author study unit in school and I recently taught them how to make QR codes using Delivr. The students are adding the QR codes to their 3D timelines and having the QR codes link to different websites and videos about their author’s life.
The students love it and are shocked at how easy it is to make QR codes. They asked me if there was a way to make QR codes from a recording of their voice. I had showed them QRvoice which is great but only limits them to 100 characters. The teacher I was working with Ms. Alloway was talking with her friend a World Languages Teacher and she told her about Vocaroo. It is game changing! Not only can you record yourself or upload any audio clip but there is no time limit! After you save the code you then have tons of options on how to save it, from putting it on facebook to making a link to the recording. The coolest is that you can save it as a QR code and it automatically makes you a code which you can then save and print out! There are so many cool ways that you can use this in your classroom:
-originally published on teachercast.net
Melissa Butler and the 6th grade ELA teacher at my school was looking for a way to teach argument writing to her students while incorporating technology. When Melissa and I started working on this unit we were looking for a way to make the debate process a little more exciting to the students. Melissa came up with the idea of debating another school and tweeted our friend Dana Sirotiak, a 7th-grade Social Studies Teacher at Frank R. Conwell Middle School #4 in Jersey City, NJ. She said she was willing to do it and then we decided to open the event up to PA. We had recently met Thomas Murray, the director of technology for the Quakerstown School District at the NJASA conference and we asked him if he had a good teacher to connect with. He connected us with Shawn Storm who teaches 6th grade ELA. We then decided it would not be fair to have one PA school vs 2 NJ schools, so Melissa tweeted Joe Mazza the principal at Knapp Elementary School in Landsdale. Both Melissa and I recently spoke to his teachers via Google Hangout during an inservice day on the benefits of being a connected educator. Joe asked Gabby Morrison a 6th-grade ELA teacher if she would also participate. Now that we had the four schools set, we needed to have them all meet and flip a coin to see which side would be arguing each side of homework. We decided to all Google Hangout together.
You can watch the recording of this here: http://youtu.be/l8sDshpR6m4
We also set up a shared Google doc between the four schools where we could plan the event. Here is the link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1w0fyB_J2zZL-SRtgLpADnxu6hG6i7QbJZ-wUqqC7ruw/edit
After we flipped a coin and realized that we would take the side of being in favor of homework, we set up an Edmodo group, so the two NJ schools could communicate and collaborate together. This is the code svkk2z for the group. This was the main way that the students and teachers communicated. We also set up a Google doc that the students could post the research they were finding, and also a place where, we as teachers, could communicate some ideas we had with the students. Here is the link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ADctcwrJItlNvm_gasOLuMVzwpQ_LjfDQsKOoQ90fKc/edit?usp=sharing
After the students compiled some of the research onto the Google doc, I thought it would be easier for the students if we had a Livebinder http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=818758 filled with websites and articles the students found. As you can see I made the tabs into groups so that all the articles that were pro homework were in one tab etc. It helped to organize the websites and made it easier for our students when they were looking for information. We password protected it so that PA could not get into the binder :-).
We also put a link to the binder on the Edmodo group so that the students could access it this way.
Our next goal was to try to find experts to talk to our students about homework. After doing research one night on the topic Melissa saw that our Twitter friend Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1) had an entire page on his website devoted to homework. She tweeted him to see if he would Google Hangout with our students the next morning. He agreed. Here is the link to the video of the hangout: http://youtu.be/i8ka4rnulaU
The students learned a lot from Jerry and we posted the video on our edmodo group so that the Jersey City students could see it.
I also reached out to Dr. Harris Cooper who has done extensive research on homework. He could not join us via Google Hangout because he was traveling but he did email us back with an article that I added to the Livebinder.
Our students spent the next few days working on researching their parts of the debates. Melissa divided the students up into groups. Some worked on the introduction statement, some researched the affirmative side of homework and others worked on the counterclaim/rebuttals. See the attached pictures for the debate format.
Melissa and I realized that we needed judges for this and we decided that we needed impartial ones too. So I tweeted a number of my friends and asked them if they would come on the Hangout and act as judges. We received more than the six virtual judges that we needed, and one who watched a tape of the debate because he got pulled to cover a class at the last minute. We had previously sent them all a email with a debate rubric (see attached) that we asked them to fill out while watching the debate.
We also realized we needed a moderator, so we asked the Village President (aka Mayor) of South Orange, Alex Torpey to moderate the debate.
Melissa and I also decided it would be great to backchannel the event so we started a hashtag #hwdebate on Twitter.
The students were so into the project that almost all of them stayed till 4:00 on both Thursday and Friday, school gets out at 2:45! Melissa and I also worked with a number of the students via Google docs over the weekend helping them to publish their speeches. Melissa also made up charts with all of the speeches on them so that the students did not have to memorize what they wrote. We have a number of classified students in the class. See the attached pictures for examples of the charts. The students were also waiting for us at 7:30 AM, the day of the debate, ready for last-minute preparations.
At 10:45 AM on Monday, I invited all 10 people into the Hangout and at 11:00 we started the recording of the debate.
Here is the video of the debate: http://youtu.be/i0vk7aorhGc
We also had a number of her students tweeting the debate live to the #hwdebate via the class twitter account that I set up for the students @msbutlerclass . We got permission from administration to unblock Twitter for the day so that the students could live tweet.
We did have one issue with Dana's class dropping off the hangout because she had to use her own personal hotspot because her district blocks Google Hangout. We were able to get them back on the debate. Even though her students missed part of the debate they did not miss a beat and came out strong with their argument.
After the debate was over we opened up a Edmodo group to all of the students from all four of the schools to join and meet each other. We also put a link to the debate video on it so that the students could re-watch the debate.
On Monday night, I received all of the judges' rubrics and tallied the votes and NJ won 8-3. The judges thought that all of the teams did really well and were very prepared. The scores were very close but NJ won!!
We announced the winners on Tuesday morning and our students were very excited.
Both Melissa and I felt that this was one of the best days we ever had as educators. It was amazing to watch four classes of students so engaged in a project. We also know we could not have done this without having access to technology like Google Hangouts, Edmodo, Google Drive, Livebinders and Evernote.
Elissa Malespina is the Middle School Teacher Librarian in Somerville and a Presenter, Author and much more. The views are my own. Find my full resume above.