Virtual Reality in PE to Rock Climb Yosemite

Practically overnight virtual reality (VR) technology has become our reality, and more and more educational applications are becoming available. Using a $9 viewer and a smartphone you can enhance student learning by using VR technology in your classroom. Here’s one way to get started using this technology in the physical education classroom.

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VR Basics

As used in our classroom, there are 3 basic components that provide the VR experience:

  • the smartphone
  • the viewer (we use a cardboard version)
  • the phone app, website, or file that displays media in VR format

The smartphone provides the media (what is seen, heard, or interacted with) by accessing an app, website, or file. The viewer is the mechanism that holds the phone and makes what appears on the the phone screen appear realistic when looked into. Viewers come in different forms from cardboard designs that costs as little as $9 to more elaborate models that vary in price depending on functionality.

How We Used VR Technology In Our Phys Ed Class

The traverse climbing wall is a major component of our climbing unit, and I was excited to show students how the skills developed while climbing this wall compared to those needed to climb in a natural setting. As I explored the internet and Google Earth looking for 360° views of rock climbers I happily came across Google Treks. Google Treks is an in-depth VR experience that as explained by Google explores “some of the most interesting places in the world”, including our classroom’s journey up the vertical rock formation known as El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

Starting at the base of the base of the the rock climb and moving all the way to the top students learn about the equipment, technique, basic needs, and history of the climbers featured in El Capitan 360° VR climb. The website provides a wealth of information about different parts of the climb, while the 360° view opened in the Google Street View App shows the setting. We used stations during our climbing unit, and while at the VR station students saw the 360° VR climb using the viewer and then read about what they saw by looking at the visual fact sheet I created using the facts from the website.

At any given time, students were talking about the climbers, the scenery, and the rocks that were being climbed. Students were pointing up as they discussed what they were seeing, and one student even commented that she, “Really felt like she was sitting in the dirt looking at the climber!” After viewing the scene students connected what they saw in VR to what they do while climbing the wall by answering a quick reflection question.

Procedure

The smartphone, VR viewer, internet, and Google Street View app were all that was needed to complete this virtual climb. I bookmarked the El Capitan Climb on my smartphone’s internet browser for easy access, and opened the specific part of the climb I wanted students to view that day by clicking “Explore”.

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Once opened, the scene has various interactive options. First, by moving the phone in space you can view 360° of the scene. Second, there are small white circles that when clicked share facts about the climbing scene being viewed (this is where I got the facts for our scene fact sheet). Third, there are options to share the scene on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. Finally, the 360° VR climb can be opened using Google Maps, which will open up automatically in the Street View app. In our classroom I did the latter by clicking on “Google Maps”.

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Once opened in the Google Street View App, all you need to look for is the mini VR viewer icon to start the 360° VR climb.

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You will know that the phone is ready to be placed in the viewer when the view appears to look like it is being seen through a big pair of goggles. Turn the phone so that the image appears upright and place in viewer to begin the 360°  view of different parts of the El Capitan climb.

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Final Considerations

Although some preparation was needed initially, I was able to put the phone to sleep and turn it back on with the VR view screen opening right up. This meant that I only had to use the internet bookmark and open the VR view for the first class of the day and could just unlock my smartphone to access the VR climb from thereon. Next, with safety as the first priority, students used the viewer while seated. As you download and use the VR capability of Google Street View, additional considerations are presented.

 

I would love to hear how you are using VR in your classroom. I am extremely curious about Google Excursions if you can share how you have applied it into your lessons.

*All virtual reality image screenshots obtained from: https://www.google.com/maps/about/behind-the-scenes/streetview/treks/yosemite/

Two Pencil Free Assessments to Use Tomorrow

“My pencil is broken!” Words we hear and panic- the seemingly quick exit ticket is complicated by materials, and is taking time away from valuable teaching and activity time. Yet, as a teacher that knows the value of formative assessment to drive future instruction, you are not willing to give it up. Below are 2 pencil free assessments that are easy enough to use in your classroom tomorrow.

1. Plickers

Materials needed: 1 student plicker response card per student, 1 teacher mobile device.

Cost: Free

Using Plickers, students hold up a specific side of their printed Plickers card to indicate their answer. The teacher scans all of the responses at once, using a phone or tablet, for an immediate visual representation of correct and incorrect student responses.

Plicker

After viewing student answers live, a visual report of all responses is available online.

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Plickers is great for immediate feedback as well as for exposing individual student’s misconceptions, as each student’s card is different than anyone else’s in the class. The app recognizes the individual cards, and reports back to the teacher the answers for whomever the card is assigned. If you teach more than one class per day, the Plickers website allows you to organize students and reports by class. The same paper cards can be used from class to class, as long as students use the permanent card number assigned to them in their “class” on the Plickers website.
Plickers is free to download and use, and can be downloaded for both iOS and Android devices. The Plickers cards can be printed in varying quantities for free from the Plickers website, and laminated versions can be purchased from Amazon.

2. “Tear Along the Dotted Line” Assessment Slip

Materials needed: 1 paper tear assessment slip per student

Cost: Free
The concept of these is simple, students tear the sheet of paper along the dotted line to indicate their answer. It is a quick and easy task, and easily shows you what misconceptions students may have. These are great to pass out during lesson close, and as students exit the gym they drop their assessment in the bucket or hand it to the teacher. Tear assessment slips are not limited to lesson closure either- they are easily used at the beginning of class and during transitions from instruction to activity and the slips are easily reviewed as collected. Although you will not know which students submitted which slip, you learn which concepts to revisit or reteach after reviewing the assessment responses. Customize and print your own using this template (4 assessments per page).

Tear Slip Sample

 

What strategies have you used to formatively assess students in the classroom? Share the pencil free assessments have you used in your classroom.

Nearpod to Enhance Sport Ed in Phys Ed

It is a very exciting time in education. New technology is allowing us to create blended learning experiences that enhance student learning. Best of all, students are motivated and become more involved in their own learning process as they synthesize information to construct knowledge. Nearpod is a website and app that allows teachers to share real-time presentations that include a variety of media and interactivity. Whats more, student interactions and submissions are available as a report for teachers to view. Below, the use of Nearpod in Sport Education units is discussed.

In addition to being an effective tool for teaching important concepts and cues of an activity or sport, Nearpod is a great way to engage and motivate students in their sport education unit. The presentation format makes it possible to incorporate many different types of media including images and video while the interactive assessment and activities are excellent for checking for understanding and developing sport education materials.

Let’s examine the use of Nearpod in my 6th grade physical education class where students used nearpod to learn about offensive strategies, develop team plays for playbooks, and to create team flags . Each student in my class accesses Nearpod from their iPad using the session code- no need to create accounts which is one of my favorite parts of this program. After entering their first name, the teacher paced presentation asked a few pre-assessment questions.

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Student offensive play created using Nearpod

The following slides taught students about offensive strategies: what they are, their purpose, and 4 strategies they can use in class (give and go, moving to open space,  running routes, and creating plays). After learning about each, student’s saw a demonstration of each strategy from videos imported into Nearpod from PowerPoint . Following the last strategy, which was creating a play, students used the drawing feature to create and name a play of their own. This play was later printed and added to their team’s playbook, which was used during gameplay.

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Students planning their running routes for a play in their playbook.

The final activity of creating the team flag was planned by the entire team, and only submitted by the team’s coach. Students always get REALLY into this part, it’s great! The flag was displayed underneath the team name on the scoreboard.

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Team flags created by students using Nearpod. Flays were displayed on scoreboard with team points.

In all the Nearpod presentation took about 20 minutes. Within this time students were pre-assessed, taught a concept, created team plays, and made team flags. The use of Nearpod alleviated the need for passing out pencils and papers, drawing/showing demonstrations, and multiple transitions. Besides creating the presentation, all that was required was accessing the submission report and printing the team flags and plays.

 

In what ways have you used Nearpod in Physical Education?
More About Nearpod:

Using nearpod in the classroom provides information to both students and teachers. As students view the presentation, they are shown slides that can  include videos, images, text, websites, pdf files, and audio- thus allowing teachers to present content in multiple ways. Slides can also include interactive features like open ended questions, fill in the blank, multiple choice, and drawing. As the teacher you are not only sharing lesson content with students, but also learning from their submissions via a visual report displays student participation, answers, and reflections.This data helps drive instruction and expose student understanding.

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Student using the interactive drawing feature of Nearpod to respond to a question

 

 

Creating Knowledge as Student Authors

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The use of search engines has made it easy for us all to consume knowledge as they have streamlined the process of finding valid and reliable information online. However, consuming knowledge is only half of the picture. By helping students become authors in the classroom they are learning more about the other part of the process- creating knowledge.

An engaging way to do this is by providing students with the opportunity to create and share their own comics online. This active learning experience switches their role from knowledge consumer to knowledge creator while helping them construct their own knowledge. Furthermore, students are learning how to use the 21st century skills of communication, information literacy, and creativity & innovation. Below are a few comic book creators that can be used in the classroom.

  1. Make Beliefs Comix (Free)

Make Beliefs Comix is an easy to navigate website that has made the comic creation process simple. Comics are 2-4 panels long and include backgrounds, characters, objects, talk and thought balloons, and panel prompts. One great feature about this comic book creator is the detailed artwork available for use. Editing features for objects in panels include moving, resizing, flipping, layering, and deleting.

When comics are completed they can be saved as an image file, printed, or sent by email. Since there is no login for this site comics are not saved and therefore are not accessible once the window is closed.

The Make Beliefs Comix website offers various resources to teachers including lesson plans, a list of ways to use the site in the classroom, story ideas, writing prompts, and language options. There are also pages with information about how Make Beliefs Comix may be used in ESOL/Literacy and special needs classrooms.

Make Beliefs Comix is available free online and as a free or paid app. Here is a short video tutorial.

2. Pixton 

Pixton provides many customization options to users. Students can add and customize full color characters, down to how the character’s hand is positioned and the expression on the character’s face. Preset background images can be edited by selecting the color and gradient used in the image. Speech bubbles can be a variety of shapes allow layering options and props can be added to panels.

When finished comics can be printed, saved as a file, embedded, or shared on the web. Once submitted comics can be graded using a 5 point rating system or a built in rubric. There are opportunities for students to view their classmates comics on the site, with options for providing comments. There are opportunities for self-reflection and peer reviews with the format of the site. Pixton offers lesson plans in a variety of content areas and discusses the implications of using Pixton for second language acquisition.

With the teacher accounts students do not need to create a login, and students are added to one of the teacher’s groups or classes. The teacher and school accounts allow comics to be created in a private and secure space. The teacher account is free to try and has a monthly subscription, whereas the school or district account is a one year paid subscription. There is a free account, however, there are many features like privacy and grading options not available on this type of account. Pixton is available online and as an app. Below is a Pixton video overview.

3. ToonDoo

ToonDoo offers a nice balance between customization and ease of use. Comics can use horizontal or vertical layouts of 1-4 panels. Characters are mainly cartoons that offer multiple poses per character. Students are also able to create their own characters, editing emotion, physical features, stance, and clothing. These characters can be added to their gallery and comics. There are different text options, as well as a variety of props and backgrounds. Two additional features of this cartoon creator are that uploaded images can be and drawings can be added to comics. Editing features allow students to size, clone, flip, rotate, and layer objects.

When comics are completed they can be published on the ToonDoo website for everyone to see, associated with a title, description, and tags. Other options include keeping it private or sharing via email with friends.

Much like Pixton, a free version of the website is available to those who register. This version, however does not offer the same privacy and sharing options as the paid version called ToonDoo Spaces which uses a social media network format to feature cartoons. This version only allows students and educators to create and access content, site administrators monitor and manage content, and students do not need to register with an email. A free trial is available for ToonDoo Spaces.

Have you used any of these or other comic creator sites in your classroom? I would love to hear how! Please share as a comment!

Cloud Based Site to Organize and Share Links

Every think about how great it would be to access and share all of those great resources you have bookmarked on your computer… from anywhere?

Symbaloo is an online website and app that allows users to view, share, and access organized links on one easily accessible page. What makes it different from similar sites is its visual nature that makes it simple to navigate.

Using Symbaloo, users can organize important links on a page or “webmix”, which can then be further organized into categories by using color “markers”.  Each webmix has its own sharing link and embed code so it can be added to a website.

Here is an introduction to Symbaloo.

In addition to organizing your websites and links in one place, Symbaloo delivers benefits in the classroom.

1. Benefits to Students

Symbaloo is a great place to house links to class documents and it provides flexible viewing options (device, time, place). Furthermore, an entire project’s documents are easily included within a marker on a webmix.

For example, students in my health class created comics using ToonDoo to refuse peer pressure, and everything they needed to complete the project were under one Symbaloo marker. From the Symbaloo link they accessed:

When completing projects using Symbaloo students are using 21st century skills of information, media, and technology literacy.

Symbaloo is a great place to place for students to compile important resources of their own. By creating their own Symbaloo webmixes students are saving important resources for later use and organizing them so that they are easily found, thus practicing executive function skills.

2. Benefits to Colleagues

A benefit of being part of a professional learning network is the ability to share your knowledge while learning from your peers. Often, a disadvantage is that shared notes and photocopies are easily misplaced and the group may not meet regularly. With Symbaloo teachers are easily able to access many resources from one place and at anytime. Additionally, as new links are added the webmix is automatically updated.

Final thoughts…

Symbaloo provides so many great options in education. One improvement that could be made is ability to add multiple administrators to edit a single webmix. This would allow professional learning communities or student groups to collaborate in adding to the same webmix.

Have you used Symbaloo in your classroom? What are some of the ways you have or see yourself using this website? We’d love to hear… share your comment!

Resources:

http://www.imls.gov/about/21st_century_skills_list.aspx

3 Sites Changing Classroom Videos

Who remembers watching “Bill Nye the Science Guy” or “Reading Rainbow” in school? Chances are… most of us do. These videos provided us with something that we were unable to get in the classroom itself- the ability to see some pretty awesome science experiments and have books read to us by celebrities. Experiences like those are what make videos in education so important. They allow us to, even if just briefly, be immersed in another time or place.

Now, as a teacher, I am excited about the different video options the internet has afforded us. YouTube has a video for just about anything, and educational video sites like Discovery Education link videos to lesson plans.

Additionally, there is a whole new crop of web 2.0 sites that allow us to customize videos and add interactive features. Below I discuss a few of them.

1. eduCanon

eduCanon allows users to edit videos and create interactivity. A user can crop a video, add multiple choice and open ended questions, comments, and set times for reflective pauses. eduCanon is easy to navigate for beginner users with bright colors and an easy to follow design. Videos can be uploaded from websites like YouTube and Teachertube, however, video files cannot be uploaded unless they are first posted to a site like YouTube. Students can view the video with access to the class code (limited number of classes allowed), or the video can be shared to Pinterest, Google +, Twitter, Facebook, emailed, or the link embedded. Users can create an unlimited number of interactive videos and have access to a library of videos. Additional features are available at an annual cost.

Sample eduCanon Lesson:

https://educanon.com/public/66698/267173?cn=s

2. EDpuzzle

EDpuzzle, like eduCanon, allows users to edit videos and create interactivity. Users can search for videos directly from the site’s interface where many websites can be accessed including Teachertube, YouTube, and Khan Academy. When creating videos, EDpuzzle takes users through the editing process step by step. EDpuzzle offers similar question formats as eduCanon with the addition of short answer. Student’s answer submissions to questions are easily accessed and can be downloaded. This system allows voice recording and subtitles to be added to the video edits. Users can create an unlimited number of interactive videos with EDpuzzle and also have access to a video library. An unlimited number of students are able to join the teacher’s “class” and those in a class can be assigned videos. Videos can be shared via the link, by email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Edpuzzle Demo:

3. PowToon

PowToon brings together presentations and animated videos. Users create customized and animated slides that include everything from the animated characters, text effects, backgrounds, and timed transitions. Have an existing video you would like to include? No problem. You can upload videos, images, and audio into your PowToon. When you complete your animated masterpiece you can choose to show it as a slideshow or pre-timed video. Options for sharing include posting it to YouTube or sharing it on Facebook, Google+, and Linkedin. A paid “pro” membership gives you extra templates to choose from and the ability to save your creations as video files.

PowToon Demo:

The possibilities for these sites are endless. Teachers can easily use their custom videos in a flipped classroom setting, or can use these sites to have students construct their knowledge as they create. What’s great is that teachers and students have an endless supply of videos to customize, and more are being added everyday.

In what ways have you used any of these web 2.0 tools in your classroom? Are there other video websites or apps that you have found successful in the classroom?