Five steps to use Virtual Reality in your classroom!

I recently purchased a set of virtual reality goggles for my classroom and they have been an awesome addition to create authentic learning experiences. I am so stoked to share with you what I have learned and how you can implement your own VR classroom experience.

The motivation behind exploring virtual reality in my classroom came from a few places.

Firstly, I am always looking for ways to spice up learning in my classroom, I love trying new things and I love bringing different ways of learning to my students. Secondly, I knew that creating virtual experiences for my students would make learning more authentic and the ‘why’ would visible. And lastly and most importantly, I knew that virtual reality has the ability to get to all learners. Regardless of language ability, cognitive levels, strengths or weaknesses, all of my students would have the potential to be involved in the same world together- and that potential was awesome.

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Here are five steps that you can take to implement VR in your classroom!

Step 1: Get the necessary tools!

I decided to buy the VR BOX 2.0 Virtual Reality 3D Glasses because I did not want a cardboard version that could get mangled and broken easily and they had a good rating on Amazon (pretty simple lol.)


From my experience, I would highly recommend this brand because they are durable, have adjustable lenses and straps for difference head shapes/ eye types and are easy to use.

The only down side, is that you need a device (either a smart phone, or touch iPod) to go on the inside of the goggles. This could be a challenge for students who don’t have a device. In this case, I just split the class in half and paired students with ones who had a device, or allowed them to borrow my own.

Step 2: Get the APP or use YouTube!

The first time we used the goggles I truthfully had no idea how to use them. I essentially gave them to the students and had a “let’s figure this out together” class. It was awesome to see them take initiative and problem solve to figure it out.

Essentially this is what we discovered.

In order to have the entire 360 feeling of virtual reality (with the screen moving with you as you move and walk) you need one of two things on your device; an app, or YouTube.

If you want to use an APP, there are a ton of awesome 360 VR options. One that my students liked was called VR travel because there were lots of options for students to be able to travel to different places. On this APP there were also difference experiences like a roller coaster that students like to see.

If downloading an APP is not an option you can use YouTube. This was actually my preferred method because you could better control the videos that students watched and it was easy for all the students to get it on their devices.


All you do is search a place with virtual reality or VR in the title (for example: Paris VR/ Paris Virtual Reality) and a whole list of video options will come up. Then in order for it to become VR, you need to click the goggles symbol in the bottom right hand corner of the video so that is it split screen and you are good to go!

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Step 3: Link it to core subject content to create experiences surrounding objectives!

So many amazing companies have come up with incredible content to link to objectives in your classroom from Social Studies, to Science, to second language learning-its great!

Some awesome sites to check out for curricular links to VR:

Google Expeditions
YouTube NatGeo
AirPano
AccuWeather
360cities
Round Me
JapanTravelAdventures

I am looking forward to using this in my Social class when learning about Japan!

For now, it has served an awesome purpose in my Travel and Culture class!

Step 4: Allow for exploration!

Some of my favorite moments using the virtual reality in my classroom as come allowing them to do their own thing. I have loved giving students a combination of tasks from myself and an element of self exploration so that they are allowed to experience things and places that are exciting for them.

Step 5: Allow them to team up and use collaboration!

My students LOVE to work together. This is an awesome way to build positive relationships and promote teamwork in your classroom.

Like I mentioned above, students may need to pair up out of necessity of using a device for the VR goggles; however, I also found it useful to pair them up together and allow them to go on quests and discoveries as a team. It allowed for some guided learning but required them to collaborate and have fun together.

VR has been an amazing addition to learning in my classroom. The kids are super excited about it and I am enjoying watching them explore new worlds and experiences.

I look forward to hearing about your virtual reality experiences!

Cheers,

Miss Rylance

Blogging in your Classroom!

I think the power of digital literacy is MASSIVE for our students. Our world is moving to a place where digital portfolios, websites, and blogs are becoming prominent features of information sharing, business, and the job market.

In my classroom, I felt that equipping my students with background of how to create a blog and how to navigate their way through using digital media was crucial for preparing them for their futures.

I believe that by the time they are ready to depart into the working world, the ability to create digital portfolios and represent themselves online will be very important. SO I decided that every student in my class needed a blog.

I started with an online platform for classrooms called Edu Blogs. It is an awesome way for teachers to control what students are posting online, while still giving them the freedom for creativity.
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With this platform, each student can create their own blog while getting posts pre-approved by me (their teacher) and they can read each others work for student encouragement and support.

The first phase of this project was developing the blog and giving them a series of quick writes to create a series of their first blog posts. This was an amazing way to get students writing, reflecting and creating online.

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Students loved it. They had ownership of their own work, they were creative and they were using literacy skills that they were excited about.

Part 2 of this project was forming a Lit Circle around their blog.

For those of you who are not familiar, Lit Circles are small groups of students who gather together to discuss a piece of literature in depth. The discussion is guided by students’ response to what they have read. Literature circles provide a way for students to engage in critical thinking and reflection as they read, discuss, and respond to books. Collaboration is at the heart of this approach.

My idea, was to give students a book tasting with different genres and books associated with each genre so that each student would be reading a book they were interested in. This was a great way to collaborate with my librarian and get students interested in what they were reading.

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We transformed the library into a little restaurant and students recorded the books they wanted to read on a little menu card.

It was great!

I then had students choose the book they wanted and section it into 4 parts.

Having each student read a different book was a challenge in figuring our how we would all finish at the same time. The 4 parts of the book turned into their 4 weekly reading goals. At the end of each of the 4 weeks, students had to get to the end of their part.

They then created a new tab in the blogs to record their progress with the book they were reading.

At the end of each week I am posting a series of questions they need to answer in regards to their books. This will be a way for them to reflect, analyse, and write about the literature they are reading while keeping current with their blogs and using technology in the classroom.

I am SUPER excited about this cool project.

Let me know if you have ever done a lit circle in your class!

Miss Rylance

Student Leadership

Often, when I tell people I teach grade 8 they often give me a reaction like “oh good luck” or “yikes, how do you do it” or my favorite “well I wouldn’t want your job“… and my reaction is usually “I love mine, my kids are great“.

The reality is that students who are around the ages of 11-14 have a bad stigma attached to them in our world (for some weird reason). I have been thinking about why these brilliant and creative minds in my classroom are seen in our society somehow as threatening or juvenile, and I know that definitely our adolescent years are the times that we make mistakes, fail, try again and they are most likely going to experience those things, but why they are so feared is beyond me.

I was also thinking the last little while how as a society we could put more responsibility on our youth  to be the centers of change and come out as the heroic people I know them to be. If you look in the United States right now, youth are leading the charge to change gun violence laws… brilliant!

How can we as teachers continue to foster this type of movement and create students who are willing to take the plunge?

My solution… Student Leadership

I’m not talking necessarily about a leadership team (which is also awesome and essential), I am talking about individual responsibility and accountability on each student beyond academics to be an inner leader.

I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about creating a class mission statement for your classroom, which is essentially a set of principals that you build your class off of. By implementing this, I have seen a big change in my grade 8’s taking ownership of their actions.

Although we are still trying to figure out how to instill student accountability into every student here are 2 awesome things that have helped so far.

  1. Create a school APP.

    I got this idea from an awesome conference I attended when a high school, in a rural community in our province talked about their successes with a school APP and unifying their student body. When I saw their presentation, I thought… we can totally do this.

    So what did I do…. I googled ‘how to build an APP’ and created our own school APP. It has been awesome! All social media accounts are linked, student announcements, bulletins, updates… and it is an awesome way to make students accountable AND create positive school spirit.
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    If your school doesn’t have an APP… its needed. 

  2. Student led assembly’s (ENTIRE student ran)

    We felt that our students needed a greater voice and representation within out walls. Instead of religious celebrations or sports based pep rally’s, we needed a way for EVERY student to be represented.

    We gave them the task of creating their own assembly and then stepped back and waited to see what they created.

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    And it was brilliant!

    Giving students the voice and choice to represent what they choose in an assembly is a great initiative.

 

These two things are not difficult to achieve within a school, and perhaps you have a few of your own. BUT student leadership is necessary to success.

Have a great week!

Miss Rylance