My students and I explored the concept of what is a community this past week. Their assignment was to take a minimum of 6 pictures in the classroom, 6 pictures in the school, 6 pictures at home, and 6 pictures around town that represented their ideas of community. After they collected 24 pictures they shared them with each other in small groups. In the groups they talked about why they took the picture and how it represented community. After that they were to pick four of their pictures from their collection and create a poster with written explanations answering the question, "What is a community?" Below are four examples of their work.
What is a Community?
Starting a new year
I decided this year instead of doing the usual get to know you activities I would focus on community building. Yesterday I showed students some examples of communities and then had my students in groups define community. Then they answered these questions:
They were to take a minimum of 6 pictures in the classroom that represented their sense of community. A minimum of 6 pictures around school. A minimum of 6 pictures around home/family and today while on a walking tour of Aurora, a minimum of 6 pictures of the town.
Tomorrow they will look at their camera roll and pick 4 pictures to print, explain, and display in the front lobby of the school.
Bringing ISTE back to my classroom
I originally wrote this for a NETA newsletter but I also thought I would post it here.
I went to the ISTE conference focused on three areas of interest; chrome extensions, gamification, and augmented reality. I came home with three ideas that have me fired up and ready to incorporate into my classroom.
My second session into the conference was “Gamification: Instructional Scaffolding to Empower Learner Autonomy, Critical Thinking and Collaboration” led by Philip Vinogradov and he showed me how easy gamification in my classroom could be. I had been looking at Minecraft, creating my own website game and apps but in this session I learned to think about gamification differently. While I still think that Minecraft and “video” type games have a purpose in teaching lessons Mr. Vinogradov showed me that a pair of dice, post-it notes, and a Google doc can add a game element as well. His game with these simple tools did just what the title of the session said. We were placed in groups and told to roll the dice. He gave us a question to think about and our job was to come up with the same number of answers that equalled the number on the dice. Someone in our group recorded our answers in the shared Google doc. When it was time to share our answers to the whole group we then rolled one die and the group with the highest number got to share one of their answers. In a matter of minutes we had used critical thinking to come up with answers, we had collaborated to get the desired number of answers and we had fun and were engaged in the learning. This is the type of gamification that can be easily adapted into my classroom and I can’t wait to try it with my students.
Augmented reality was another area that I was interested in and I was introduced to its possibilities while at the ISTE conference. Both Soledad O’Brien’s keynote address and Mr. Vinogradov’s website led me to the new world of Google Cardboard. Remember the Viewfinders when you were a kid? Now take that concept of cardboard viewing glasses and a smartphone with the Cardboard app and you can take your students on a virtual fieldtrip. A teacher with an iPad can give their students access to places like the Eiffel Tower or a national park. The students place the smartphones in the cardboard viewing glasses and then by moving their head around they can examine these places in 3D. This is still a very new application that we will see more information about later this fall but I plan to figure out a way to apply it in my classroom as quickly as possible. This wasn’t my only brush with augmented reality.
On the last day of the ISTE conference I took part in the session, “Walking the Augmented Reality Line, Philly Style!” Our leader, James Kapptie, took us to three places in historic Philadelphia where we could see how the Aurasma app worked. At our first stop in the Independence Hall visitor center thirty attendees stood before a painting and used the Aurasma app to gain access to a video pertaining to the scene in the picture. We also learned the dos and don’ts of using the app in outdoor places at the next two stops. After the last stop outside of Betsy Ross’ house, Mr. Kapptie quickly showed us how we could make our own Aurasma hotspots. As a I saw how easy it was to make these augmented reality hotspots with the app, my mind turned to how I was going to use this in my classroom. My students could easily create something to add to a poster, wall, or door throughout the school and it wasn’t a complicated process that could take days to complete. Making the augmented reality was short, easy and painless.
In my ever changing role as an educator these ideas from ISTE will help me provide collaborative and relevant experiences for my students.
I am a Social Science instructor at Aurora High School. I am currently teaching College/Honors American History and American History.