Augmented Reality

I have been recently intrigued by the possibilities of Augmented Reality in education.  While I have heard of this phenomena prior to attending the MASSCue conference, it was certainly further intrigued after 2 sessions I attended.

One session was an exciting demo of free software that runs on computers – Trimble Sketchup (formally Google Sketchup – a 3D building creator), AR media plug-in (works with Sketchup to view sketchup buildings in 3D, and manipulate it in a 360-degree environment) and Google Earth ( sketchup buildings can be submitted and viewed).  Two Technology Integrators, Christine Donoghue & Donna McDonnell from Billerica Public Schools,demonstrated how to easily create 3D buildings in Sketchup and then view it in 3D/Augmented Reality or via Google Earth as they do with their elementary students.   These programs have direct ties to the K – 12 curriculum in areas such as math, geography, art, literature, history and high school engineering.

There are many ways to use the sketchups.  Sketchups are being connected with google lit trips.  Students recreate historical buildings as part of a history unit.  NASA now has data on their website and an app that takes advantage of  Augmented Reality as well.

The most impressive part of the session was actually seeing this in action.  Since I did not videotape the session, I found 2 youtube videos that should give you a sense of what this looks like:

The presenters developed a handout which list all of the software that would need to be installed and install instructions as well. Other links provided during the session that you may find useful:

Basic House Drawing Directions


AHS Flipped Classroom exploration

Flipping at AHS

There is a lot of discussion at AHS about the flipped classroom.  A few teachers are trying it.  A PLG has formed called Examining and Experimenting with the “Flip”  where a small group of teachers are exploring the pros and cons of flipping and learning the best way to implement that model in the classroom.  They are reading the book Flip Your Classroom by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams as a basis for this exploration.  Our Tech Tuesday offered 2 sessions on the flipped classroom in January.  The Director of Digital Learning has pulled together a collection of material on the topic found at

I attended a MassCUE Technology Conference session lead by Lawrence Academy’s Technology Director/Math Teacher Mark Burkholz on flipping the classroom.  Additionally, my colleagues – high school math teachers Kelci Adams and Deb Rainha, attended a flipped classroom workshop put on by the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC). There is so much information to share!

What is a flipped classroom?

According to Mark’s blog, a flipped classroom is “…an approach where lectures are posted online as videos (called screencasts) for students to watch as homework thus freeing up time in class for more enriching activities.”

Video creation or using ready made content

While Mark acknowledged there are many products available to create your own screencasts, he highly recommended screencast-o-matic for it’s ease of use and low cost (the $15 pro account allows you to edit your screncasts, publish to vimeo/Google video/YouTube and much more).  He indicated that his entire math department worked together to build a library of math videos so that no one person had the responsibility to create the entire collection (available at his website and click on mathcasts or going to Lawrence Academy’s Math YouTube channel).   Other resources mentioned at the CREC conference include iPad Apps: Show Me, Educreations, and Explain Everything that are powerful video creation tools.  Most of these resources allow you to create your own instructional video -or- use ready made videos created by other educators.

As far as creating your own videos, participants at the CREC workshop learned that using a stylus (if you are on an Ipad) can be useful in making effective videos.  The guideline for the length of the video is generally 1 minute per grade (so a tenth grade teacher should try to keep the video close to 10 – 15 minutes).  Mark suggested that when searching for ready-made video content for a flipped classroom online, you search using the term “applet + your subject matter” for the best results.

Keeping students accountable

The CREC conference emphasized the importance of  holding students accountable for watching the video content as homework.  Some strategies were to create a quiz for students to take after viewing the video to assure that they really watched and understood the content.  Students may also be required to take notes on the content and show those notes to the teacher as part of their homework grade.  Depending on the level of the class or the content of the class, teachers could provide slides that the students must take notes on or they may be asked to take notes on their own. Mark often will have students take questionnaires after watching screencasts to help him determine understanding gaps to discuss the following day in class.

Why flip your classroom and what should be done with your extra class time?

Mark emphasized that the benefit of flipping his classroom is that it increases the time he is able to spend with each student each day.  The increased class time allows him to plan more creative group activities during class to engage students and deepen their understanding of the material as well as to answer questions as students work on problem solving in class.  The CREC workshop provided additional ideas.  One strategy is to have students break into self-defined groups ranging from “I totally understand this concept” to “I need some more instruction to move forward”.  This helps the teacher determine where to focus their attention while the students are practicing concepts from the unit.  Additionally, each student could be given a green,yellow and red cup that they can use to indicate to the teacher that they need some assistance during class.

What about the students without access?

Mark acknowledged that because he teaches at a private school, he did not have to wrestle with the challenge of a student not having access to technology at home.   He suggested that a teacher could provide a thumb drive that contains the video content for students who may have a computer at home with no internet access, or provide open hours in a computer lab or school/town library to access the internet for students without access at home.

The future of Flipping

Some teachers attending the The CREC conference are using a mastery model for their flipped classroom.  All video content for the course is available for students at any time.   Students work through the material at their own pace.  Students take quizzes and must get a 75 or higher to move forward.

Want to learn more?
For more information on flipping classroom check out the APS Digital Learning Wiki, or my Pinterest boards on the topics of Flipped Classrooms and/or Flipped High School Math Classroom.