One of my favorite benefits of having a digital classroom is the opportunity to find creative ways to use new technology tools. Recently, I started noticing some of my fellow teacher bloggers talking about using augmented reality in the classroom with an app called Aurasma. With this app, students can create a video, animation, or other interactive material that will be linked with a particular image. When the device camera hovers over the image, the interactive material pops up.
I immediately wanted to know how teachers were using this app in the classroom. When I started digging deeper, I came across a post by Erin Klein, who had used the app to create an interactive word wall with her students. I loved this idea, because I have often found that word walls fall a bit flat with my older students. What a fantastic way to make it truly useful and engaging!
The interactive word wall was going to take some time and rearranging in my classroom, so I thought it would be best to introduce that particular project next fall. However, my mind was spinning with ideas for how I could use augmented reality in my classroom right now. I was getting ready to start an in-depth study of informational text features, and felt that this app could help my students become more engaged with the content.
For this particular project, I asked my students to work with a partner. I gave each team a different text feature to focus on. They were to learn what their text feature was, and what purpose it served. Once they had reported to me their findings, the partners found an example to use as their trigger image—most students took a picture of a textbook or other non-fiction text and used an annotation app to draw an arrow pointing out the text feature. Then, they created a short video to define and explain their text feature. The more outgoing students recorded themselves, while those who are more reserved took video of a non-fiction text as they pointed and explained. In this way, everyone could feel comfortable being part of the process.
Once the images and videos were done, they could be combined in the Aurasma app to create "auras." I printed out the trigger images, and students then went on a treasure hunt, using the iPads at different stations to trigger auras, matching up text features with descriptions on a recording sheet. This allowed all students to become familiar with all of the text features we were studying. I also asked the teams to upload their images and videos to our shared Google Drive account. This way, I could create an Aurasma channel online and post the trigger images on a wall in the classroom, allowing my students to use this as a reference resource as needed.
Augmented reality could be used in so many creative ways in the classroom, and I am already making a list of new ideas. I have visions of a similar project for learning the different types of figurative language, and the potential uses for creating interactive ELA content are numerous. But perhaps the most intriguing idea for me is how I can use this app to generate more enthusiasm for book clubs and independent reading. Rather than requiring traditional book reports, I love having student-created reviews and book trailers for the titles in my classroom library, and have ambitions of expanding to our school library.
Aurasma provides an innovative platform for allowing students to share their book-based projects with each other, and having those projects stored for on-demand access. By using technology tools creatively, we can enhance the learning process in such a way that leads to a higher level of student engagement and the creation of not just lifelong learners, but lifelong readers. Lindsey Fuller is a sixth grade teacher in Decatur, Illinois. Her interests are classroom technology integration, literacy instruction, and Common Core curriculum development and implementation. You can read more from Lindsey on these topics at her blog, Tales of a 6th Grade Classroom.