Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Augmenting Mapping Labs

I love using maps in my geography class.  I believe teaching a geography class without using maps is just like teaching an English class without reading anything, or a science class without performing any experiments.  It is how we as geographers see the world.

One of the best resources I've used for years is TCI's Geography Alive Mapping Labs.  They are a great way for students to see various aspects of a region.  The students would use the placards provided by TCI and a transparency with a map as the overlay to locate where things are.  This is a great skill for the students to acquire, but it became troublesome.  The transparencies would began to smudge and not be usable after a few classes, students would be absent so they would have to come in sometime to complete the task, or the placards would get ruined.  All of these problems were solved when I augmented the lab!

Now, all the student needs is the target image and a device with the DAQRI app, and they can complete this assignment wherever they are.  My students have loved the augmented mapping labs.  It really has increased their engagement in an already engaging learning experience.  Here are the targets I've created for the lessons.

Target for Monsoon Asia Mapping Lab

Target for Latin America Mapping Lab

Target for Africa Mapping Lab

Target for Southwest Asia Mapping Lab

Target for Europe/Russia Mapping Lab

Target for US/Canada Mapping Lab

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Student Created Augmented Reality Target

I love augmented reality and using it in the classroom.  I've had students create before using various platforms, but I wanted my students to start creating with DAQRI's 4D studio.  I had them create their own DAQRI 4D studio accounts, scheduled time in the media center, and let them create.  It was a hard task to start because the creation studio was more difficult for them to learn than I expected.  But most got the tool much quicker than many of the teachers I've worked with before, which didn't surprise me at all.

As I circulated throughout the computer lab, I notice the students were talking about what they were going to do to make their experience more interesting and exciting.  It was great because they were searching for the best way to describe and show popular vs. folk culture.  They knew these would be posted around campus, and the other students would be able to look at it.  Knowing this made some of them even more engaged in the activity.

We were in the lab for 3 days.  At the beginning of the 3rd day, I had the students publish their experiences so they could see what they had done so far.  In all of my classes, it got a rowdy when they viewed their experiences for the first time!  They were so proud of their work.  They were calling their friends over to see what they made.  It was awesome!

Here are just a few of the targets the students created.  I can't wait to see what they will do with this throughout the year.  I'm excited about the potential!  If you are considering using 4D studio with your students, please do!  It is a project they will be excited about creating and showing to their friends and family.

*** To view these, download the DAQRI app (it's free) and then scan the images.  You can do it on the computer to see them.  There is no need to print them out.***

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Augmented Reality Takes Over Winter Park

September 24-26 were some pretty amazing days at the Winter Park 9th Grade Center!  Brad Waid and Drew Minock were on campus training the entire faculty on augmented reality and using DAQRI in the classroom.  I cannot say how impressed I was with the faculty.  We are a great group of teachers, but technology forward group really isn't something I would use to describe us.  Brad and Drew did a great job with an overview of what DAQRI and augmented reality is, so the faculty was ready to come back the next day to create DAQRI lessons.  Some of the teachers have shared what they created during our training sessions.  Here are some of the things that have been created and already used in the classrooms at Winter Park's 9th Grade Center!

This is a map I created for my World Cultural Geography classes.  Every unit, we look at maps to learn about the region.  Prior to creating this map, the students would each have a transparency to overlay on a base map.  The problem came that I lost base maps, the transparencies would smudge, and students could read them anymore, and I students would only be able to work on this activity in my classroom.  Now, all of those issues have been resolved with DAQRI.  Check it out!

An English teacher created this map for his students while they read The Odyssey during the 3 hour training in the morning and then used it in his class that afternoon.  It's impressive!

One of the Biology teachers was uncertain about using the technology in her classroom and taking the time to create it.  She make this experience of the cell.  It is quite impressive.  She was very excited to show Brad, Drew and I on Friday.  She even took time at Open House to talk with the parents about it.  I'd say she sees the power augmented reality!

The Physical Education teachers decided they wanted to make a target to hang in the weight room for the students to know how to properly use the machines and what exercises they could do to strengthen specific muscles.  This will allow the student to stay active even if they've never used the equipment before because they now have video of a professional using the same equipment they have in the weight room.

One more of mine... this is the lesson that started me on my augmented reality pathway.  I have the students analyze population pyramids and discuss what's happening in the country.  Using DAQRI, I took it to a new level.  My students loved this lesson this year, and many of them picked the wrong answer just to get the response they get when wrong.  This is just one pyramid, there were 10 of them throughout the classroom.

I hope this inspires others to start using DAQRI 4D Studio.  It is a great tool to enhance learning in the classroom.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The #2Guys Show Visit Winter Park High School

I can remember the first time I ever heard about Augmented Reality in the classroom.  I had just started following Brad Waid and Drew Minoch on twitter and saw they were starting their 2 Guys Show.  I was watching it on my planning period the day after it aired.  They were demonstrating different augmented reality tools.  I was in awe during the entire show.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  I thought, "This is radically going to change things!"  Little did I know how much I was right.  I decided right then and there that I was going to do this for one of my upcoming lessons.  I blogged about my lesson before, so I won't go into detail about it, but it was AMAZING!!!!

I started telling everyone on campus about it.  I augmented the Homecoming shirt for the student council.  I worked with the media specialist to do augmented book talks.  After I gave a presentation to the faculty in the spring, an English teacher and I worked together to create an amazing lesson about Shakespearean humor.  The excitement spread!  I stayed in touch with Brad and Drew.  I met them at FETC in January.  Then, one fateful day, Brad and I had a Google Hangout (during a lightning delay at school... yes that's a real thing), and he proposed that my school be one of the flagship schools for DAQRI.  I was thrilled.  I told my principal, and he was on board from the beginning.  I've been waiting for this day since May.  Tomorrow is the day.  I cannot tell you how excited I am to host Brad on Drew and be one of their flagship schools!

It's pretty awesome to be part of something big!  I'm not sure if the rest of the faculty is ready for what's about to happen at our school.  Students will be creating augmented reality, they will be engaged in learning, and classes won't seem so boring to them.  I know this for a fact.  I've used augmented reality with my AP and non-AP geography classes, and both are blown away with the technology.  I know this excitement will carry over to other subjects.

In less than 24 hours, the #2guys will be in Florida!   It's going to be an awesome 3 days.

I'll definitely post what went on after they leave.  I know it's going to be mind blowing!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I'm so excited for this year!

I'm totally excited about this coming year.  I'm starting my 13th year, and I can say I haven't been this excited about what the year will bring in a long time.  I'm adding some pretty exciting things to my class.

1.  Gamification

For the past 9 years, I've been teaching World Cultural Geography, a non-AP geography class.  I've struggled many times each year to find a way to make it meaningful to the students.  It is hard to get my 9th graders to find interest in some of the content.  Well, after spending some time researching gamification, talking with Tom Driscoll through Twitter and phone, I've decided to take the jump and gamify my World Cultural class.  We are going to be members of the WIA (Wildcat Intelligence Agency) working our way throughout the world as an elite group of operatives, helping to solve many of the crises in various countries and regions.  I'm super excited about the potential this will have for my class.  Hopefully, it will energize me as well.  I teach just one prep of this class, so I need something to make me want to be better for them.  I will be continually updating my blog with the successes and failures of this project.

2.  Augmented Reality

I started using this last year in both of my geography classes, and I LOVE the excitement it creates in the room.  I'm very excited that I get to work closely this year with Brad Waid and Drew Minoch , of #2guys fame, as they transition to their roles at DAQRI.  I've created a few things that we will be using at the beginning of the year to try and get the students excited as well.  I envision many of the challenges from the gamification will be delivered to the teams via AR.  As the school begins to incorporate this more and more into each classroom, I am very excited about the possibilities.  I'm excited our science classes will be using the element cubes and the Anatomy 4D programs as well.  I can't wait for their visit in September to get the faculty on board and excited as much as I am.

School starts on Monday.  I can't wait for it to come.  I'll keep you posted on the successes and trials throughout the year.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Leading from the Classroom

I just finished a leadership class at my church entitled, "A Leader Worth Following".  It was a shift to the conventional look at leadership.  What I liked most was it focused on leadership as influence rather than title. Just because someone has a "leadership" title, doesn't mean they are necessarily a leader worth following. There are people that have a leadership title that are, indeed, worthy of being followed.  But, I was challenged to understand that I am a leader even without a "title".  I'm a leader in my house, and I'm a leader in my classroom.  Many times, teachers miss this.  We know we are impacting and influencing the lives of so many students far beyond the walls of our class, but we miss that this is being a leader.  I loved the facilitators take on leadership, and it is so relevant to the classroom, I knew I wanted to share.  He said all leaders worth following have to focus on three areas: Authentic Character, Exceptional Competency and Relational Connections.

1.  Authentic Character-  Being authentic in the classroom is something that pulls students in and makes them want to learn and participate in the classroom.  Having great character means that all students are treated with respect and know that they are valued in the classroom.  Having authentic character also means that all students can feel safe in the classroom.  Also, it means that we do what we say we're going to do. Students appreciate a teacher that is consistent with everyone.  I try my best to be an encourager, a safe place for all students, and consistent.

2.  Exceptional Competency-  This is one that I think is of utmost importance in the classroom.  There are so many great and new strategies out there, and we need to be looking for the best ways to engage our students in the classroom.  Also, we need to be constant learners of our content.  I have learned so much Human Geography over the past 7 years, that it makes what I thought I knew my first year teaching the course laughable.  I keep thinking if I never attempted to learn more about the subject matter, how pathetic my class would be.  My students would hate it!  I would hate it!  I would probably want to quit.  I am very proud of the fact that my course and my teaching style isn't the same as it was 7 years ago or even 2 years ago.  Over the past year, I've learned more about teaching and learning through engaging on Twitter than I have in the previous 11 years teaching.  We NEED to model what it means to be a learner.  Our students don't know what it takes to be a true learner.  So many of them have perfected learning for the grade which will only get them so far.  They need to learn the importance of exceptional competency as well.

3.  Relational Connections-  We all remember those teachers that made the biggest impacts in our lives.  They are the ones that took the time to create a connection with us.  I've seen the importance of relationships.  This year, I decided I would write every one of my students a note and stick it to their answer sheet prior to the AP exam.  This was born out of this class I took.  It was very time consuming to write 110 individual notes, but when the students saw me after the test, they were so thankful.  They recognized the time it took to write each of them, and they were impressed they were each individual.  Many of them even posted pictures of them on Twitter, tagging me to show their gratitude.  I'm not sure if the notes will help them do better on the AP test, but they knew their teacher thought enough of them to write them a personal note.  One girl said, "Mr. Parker, did you really mean what you wrote?"  I said, "Of course I did!"  She almost started crying.  She told me it was the nicest thing a teacher ever said to her.  I know I'll remember the reaction these students had to such a small gesture.  It made me want to make this feel this special so many more times throughout the year.

So, teachers, you are a leader!  You have influence over a group of young people for a given time.  What will they take away from your classroom?  I want my students to learn as much geography as they can, but I want to instill in them a love of learning and a new perspective they've never before seen.  So, no, I have no official "leadership title", but I am a leader.  I hope that I can be a leader worth following to my students!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why is there so much resistance?

Last month, we held our annual Curriculum Celebration.  Working with the Curriculum Resource Teacher, I suggested that we use it as a time to focus the faculty on educational technology.  I teach at a school where many seem focused on not letting technology become a part of the culture.  You go to meetings and hear all the excuses why we shouldn't bring tech into the classroom ranging from not every kid has a device to it is way to distracting for the students.  There is even a teacher that has a basket in front of his class and expects all the students to place their phones or devices so they don't use them at all in the classroom.

How do you work to encourage the use of technology more in the classrooms?  After using it in my classroom frequently, I know the benefit it has in making the classroom more engaging.  Now, this isn't to say that there are days where I still do a lesson without technology.  I am just tired of meeting resistance from the classroom and the administrators about the use of technology in the classroom.  My school is slipping further and further behind so many schools in the area and state because so many refuse to even try to see the importance of technology in the world outside the classroom. We used to be a leader in the district, but we are from it now!

So, if you're facing a school full of resistance like I am, here's my advice to you.  Stay the course with your integration of technology.  I have found I get more teachers on my side when I invite them into my classroom to see how a specific technology is being used.  This shows them how they can use it in their classroom as well.  Sometimes it is hard to sit at a training or read an article about technology and bring it to life in your classroom.  After inviting people a few times to my classroom to see Augmented Reality in use, one of our English teachers decided she would try it out in her classroom and created an amazing lesson for her Shakespeare unit that everyone else in the department loved so much, they used it as well.  I have now won over the English department.  Slowly, but surely, I know I'll have a majority of teachers on the side of technology that the others will feel alone in their complaints.

Be prepared to have a lot of questions from teachers as they start using various technology in their classroom.  I welcome the questions because it means they are trying to use it.

Hopefully, that will happen soon, for the sake of our students!

My First Experience with Augmented Reality

  I was relatively new to Twitter.  I was trying to build my PLN to see the effectiveness of the tool.  I found two guys, Brad Waid and Drew Minoch.  They have a blog, 2 Guys and Some iPads.  I started looking around there, watching their web show (which is awesome!), and I quickly learned about Augmented Reality, specifically Aurasma.  Seeing this in action on the episode made me think, "How can I use this in my high school geography classroom?" So, I decided to give it a try.

  There was a lesson that I've done a few times dealing with Population Pyramids where the students analyze a pyramid to determine what is going on in a country based on the size and the shape.  In the past, I've had the students analyze the pyramid and then come to me and see if they were correct.  This is a great activity, but it lead to a lot of standing/waiting time while I discussed with the students about their answers.  There would be times that there were 5 or more students standing in line waiting for me, which meant they weren't working. So, I decided to augment the lesson.

  It took a while for me to get used to the whole process, but by the end of the preparation, it was so much easier!  There were 10 pyramids they were to analyze.  I wish I had a picture of my students faces the first time they saw the purple swirl appear on their smart phones and then the video pop up describing what they saw in the pyramid.  I still remember the shocked looks and the cries of "WOW!!!"  and "THAT'S AWESOME!!!!"  This is definitely something I knew I had to use more than once in my classroom.  After they all got to working, the room was full of a great excitement.  I was now free to walk around and talk with each pair independently.  This allowed me more time with the work with students that didn't understand what one of the pyramids was telling them about the country.

  After my first AR experience, I was a total believer.  It made me want to learn more and more about a variety of EdTech out there.  It inspired me to be a better teacher and to integrate more technology into my classroom.  Just trying this has made me a totally different teacher...
for the better.

So, if you haven't tried or even heard of Augmented Reality, give it a try.  You'll become a huge fan just like me!

Monday, March 3, 2014

I'm not a EdTechie, but trying my best

I think the biggest issue teachers face when looking at technology is they feel inadequate.  Believe me, I know the feeling.  Every time I turn around, there are new apps to do this or a new program that does that. It is daunting to cull through all of these when you don't feel like a major techie at all (heck, its more daunting for us novice techies!).  Over the summer, I was asked to help write the "digital curriculum" for my course for the district.  It is the desire of the district to move completely digital in a few years. I was asked, not because I am super amazing with technology and can give some amazing ideas of how to incorporate it into a classroom effectively, but because I was the "content expert".  I must admit, what I did was far from stellar. Well, that few weeks looking over a variety of internet sites got me totally interested in radically changing my classroom. So, this year, I decided to start slowly integrating some digital curriculum pieces to see how they work.  Here is what I've learned so far.

1.  You don't have to be an expert in everything to move towards a digital classroom.

Like I already said, I am in no way a technie.  You can talk with my brother about hardware and software, and he'll understand most everything you're saying.  I'm not even sure I totally understand the difference between RAM and ROM.  However, that doesn't stop me from finding things and trying things with my students.  I'm not an expert, but there is definitely someone who is, so find them and beg, borrow and steal as much as you.  There are some pretty amazing educators who use tech in their classrooms every day that I only wish I could be like.

2.  The students are experts in the technology truly relevant to them.  Let them show you.

This is what I love the most.  I tell the students often that I do not know or understand all of the apps and websites and things that they spend a good portion of their live fixed on.  I like that I can let them explore and try new things with whatever they want to use.  Often times, I even ask them, "Hey, this is what I want to do, what are some ways I can do that?"  That empowers them.  My students know that I will never declare I am the only expert in the classroom, and that I often admit that I am not an expert about a lot things.  Giving them the chance to use what they want the way they want to get the information across empowers them in ways they've never been empowered before in a classroom.

3.  Try new things.  Even if they don't work, you will find something else that will work better.

I had a great idea of having my students work on a world religions project using Prezi.  The students were in groups covering different religions.  I thought that we could create a Prezi that every student in the classroom would access.  We were in the computer lab.  The students were working, but the more stuff they put on the Prezi, the more it crashed.  Students would hit the wrong undo button and clear whatever was done in the last few minutes.  It was a DISASTER!  The students were frustrated, I was frustrated, and I feel that the purpose of the lesson was lost.  It was unfortunate, but now I know a few things that I didn't know.  Yes, you can crash Prezi!  Yes, just because it is technology doesn't mean the students will love the lesson.  Yes, it is ok to admit you made a mistake in curricular design and the students won't think you're the worst teacher ever.  It has now become a running joke with my classes this that when we doing something using the computers.  Every period, they are begging, "Please, don't let is be another Prezi!!!!!"

4.  Don't just take an old worksheet, post it on a website and call it using technology.

The students can see right through that.  It is a start, but please don't think that is moving into the 21st century and using technology in an appropriate way.  I have to confess, this is mostly what I did for the "digital curriculum" for my district.  It is embarrassing now looking back and seeing what I came up with.

So, hopefully this can help.  I will be posting periodically about my journey into the tech world.  It is a scary place to be, but it is really exciting!  Thanks for joining me on my journey.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Real World Audience

  Yesterday, my students held our first ever "Know Your Food" Food Festival.  I keep hearing how important it is to have a "real-world" audience in mind while presenting a topic.  I've tried this with most of the presentations I've done with my AP students.  They've done presentations as if they were in front of the United Nations seeking assistance or to a group of NGOs trying to vie for their support depending on how their goals for development in their own country.  They've taken a role, and tried the best a 14-15 year old can do to understand the intricacies of that role.  In their presentations yesterday, they didn't have to present to an imagined audience, they presented to their peers during their lunch hour.  The project was based on the topic, "What every high school student should know about their food".

  So, a bunch of high school freshmen were presenting to other high school freshmen what they thought they should know about food and the food industry.  There were booths that were comparing organic and non-organic farms, discussing the unequal global distribution of food, looking at cage free farms and feedlots. The best part about this project is that I laid the foundation for the project, but I gave them few parameters. They chose their groups, topics (not from a list of topics I generated, but one they wanted to research and present), designed their booths in a way that would attract a high school freshmen.  The best part is they know what high school freshmen would be interested in because they are high school freshmen.  So many times, the "real-world" audience is still so far removed from their lives.  My students have no knowledge of understand about the United Nations.  What happens in that building is totally foreign to them.  But ask them what would get a student to come to your booth during lunch to learn about food?  They knew exactly how to attract their classmates.  Over 500 students participated.  My students were on it.  They had their talks ready, short and concise to keep the attention of the audience.  They had giveaways and food to attract people to their booths.  The captivated their "real-world" audience, and the other students loved it!