7 Augmented Reality Apps for the Classroom

In a quest to look for ways to get my students outside active and learning in the real world.  I have begun messing around with different Augmented Reality Applications.  I have made a couple of games using different programs, as regular readers of my blog know.  If you are a new reader and are interested in these past blogs click here for a list of past blogs on this topic, or click on the Augmented Reality in Schools link on the left side of this blog.

I have had phenomenal success with this type of application in the classroom from the few games that I have created, so I have begun to look for more programs to create these types of applications.  The following is a list of 7 programs that I believe could be excellent for creating location based educational games.

Note: All of these programs require the use of  a GPS enabled device to play like a cell phone, or Garmin GPS device etc.

FourSquare : This application can be used on almost all hand-held devices from the iPhone to Android.  It is very universal and is great for scavenger hunts. Has a large support community and is well maintained. You can download the app from the Android App store.

SCVNGR :  The idea behind this site is to complete challenges at specific locations.  This application is also for the iPhone and Android devices and is well developed.  This application allows users to collect points and easily share information and locations like FourSquare above. You can download the app from the Android App store.

Joyity : Like other location based games this turns your environment into a game space.  At different locations you must complete certain tasks to earn point and accomplish missions.  “JOYity is for use on both Android smartphones and Java (J2ME) phones.” You can download the app from the Android App store.

GPS Mision :  This is a webbased game creator for Windows Mobile phones, Nokia and the iPhones.  This application allows you to create location based games.  You can also download and play games as well.

WhereIGo : Originally designed for Geocaching, this application can be easily converted into location based games. This application is limited to Windows Mobile devices and Garmin GPS devices. Game creator can only be used on specific Windows machines. You can download the app from the Android App store.

Tourality :  This location based game like the others can be played on Andriod, Nokia and Blackberry devices.  You can download the app from the Android App store.  Another great application for multiplayer games.

Layar : This application can be download on most devices. This application is great for overlaying material over the real world using the camera on the device.  Great for showing what something looked like in the past or may look like in the future.  You can also overlay game characters to instruct or provide information for the game.

Here is a great video that shows the type of things that this type application can deliver to students to engage them.

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20 Student Favorite Cartoon Creators

As I watched Tom Wujec’s TED talk today I was struck by the simplicity of his message. All teachers know that a good visual is key to success in the classroom. But what really intrigued me was the concept of students creating visuals to cement their learning. Over the past two years I have noticed that students who create visual projects in my class often retain information better than those who wrote papers.

In my project based classroom one of the most popular mediums for students projects has become cartoon creators. Not only do students enjoy creating these projects but the the process of taking their knowledge and depicting it visually on paper seems to be very effective in their learning process. I have often talked to students about one of their projects that they created at the beginning of the year and not only can they tell me about the project but they still remember the underlying concept taught at that time. This has always intrigued me and led me to create a long list of cartoon creators for students to use.

For those of you interested in giving this a try here are 20 of the most popular cartoon creators my students like to use.

  1. GoAnimate.com
  2. Toonlet.com
  3. Toondoo.com
  4. Pixton.com
  5. Chogger
  6. Comic Creator
  7. Comic Lab
  8. Make Believe Comix
  9. Strip Creator
  10. Strip Generator
  11. Zimmer Twins
  12. Do Ink
  13. Comic Strip Generator
  14. Comic Master
  15. Captain Underpants
  16. Comicbrush
  17. Marvel Comic Creator
  18. Witty Comic Creator
  19. Cartoon to Customize
  20. Bitstrips

Don’t just teach them, teach them how they learn

Dominant learning style of target audience
Image via Wikipedia

This week as I was teaching my class different reading strategies they could apply to their textbooks.  I  brought up how everyone has a different learning style.  To my surprise many of them did not understand what I was talking about.  This concerned me.  I realized that not only do I need to teach these kids my subject specific content but I also need to help them understand how they learn.  It is very important that students gain an understanding of how they learn.  This provides them insight on how they should study and approach their learning.  With out this knowledge they are at a real disadvantage in their education.  So like a good teacher, I scraped my next days lesson and began looking at how I could help my students understand how they learn.

So the next day we discussed what the different styles of learning were and I had the students take an assessment that helped them find out what learning style best fits them.  In this process I found 10 great sites that contain great learning style assessments.  So if you find your self in a similar position as me in your class use these sites to help your students learn how they learn.

  1. Multiple Intelligences (Find your Strengths)
  2. What is your learning style?
  3. The VARK Questionnaire
  4. Free learning styles inventory, including graphical results
  5. Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire
  6. What are my Learning Strengths?
  7. Learning Styles Explained
  8. Multiple Intelligences
  9. Multiple Intelligences Inventory
  10. Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theories model
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School Year Resources Part Two: Cartoon Creators and Avatars

ToonDooEX

ToonDooEX (Photo credit: The Daring Librarian)

This is the second post in a series on resources for the upcoming school year.  As I collected these resources to get my own classroom ready for the school year I thought I would share that information with others to ask for advice and see if there are any great resources that I missed.  So, if you know of any other great links or have any helpful information about these please let me know.

Cartoon Creators and Avatars

Over the past couple of years as I have moved into a project based classroom.  I have had many students create some excellent projects using Cartoons and Avatars.  Some were animated cartoons and others were just regular print cartoons.  They have also used Avatars to present what they have learned in the class.  The key to these types of projects for me is the level of engagement that the students had through out the project.  The technology really kept them engaged and excited about learning and my students really enjoyed creating projects using these resources.  Many of these links were found by my students who then brought them to my attention and asked if they could use them for their projects.

Avatar Creators (Create Talking Avatars)

  1. Voki
  2. Blabberize
  3. Evolver
  4. Avatara
  5. Avatar.pho
  6. Doppelme
  7. SouthPark Avatar
  8. Portrait Maker
  9. Marvel Comic Avatar
  10. Face Your Manga
  11. Digimi
  12. Meez
  13. Go Animate
  14. Mixamo
  15. Animeeple
  16. Picasion
  17. LooGix

Cartoon Animators (Create Comic Strips)

  1. Toonlet
  2. ToonDoo
  3. Pixton
  4. Chogger
  5. Comic Creator
  6. Comic Lab
  7. Make Beliefs Comix
  8. Strip Creator
  9. Strip Generator

Video Animation Creators (Create animate video cartoons)

  1. XtraNormal
  2. Memoov
  3. Go! Animate
  4. Dvolver
  5. Digital Films
  6. Aniboom
  7. Fluxtime
  8. Animasher
  9. ZimmerTwins
  10. Scratch
  11. DoInk
  12. MovieStrom
  13. Creaza
  14. Fuzzwick
  15. Staged
  16. Moove Online

Past Posts on this Topic

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Want to Revamp You Class? Assess you Strengths

Well, it is that time of year again when teachers look back at the past year and forward to the next.  Many teachers are considering making changes to their courses and styles of teaching.  If you are in that boat here is a great tool to give you a start  on making those changes.  This assessment will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses.  It will allow you the ability to look at where you can make changes and support your strengths in your teaching.  While it did not hold any real surprises for me it got me thinking about some areas in which I could use some work and support in my classes.  Take a look at the this assessment at the following website.  http://literacyworks.org/mi/assessment/findyourstrengths.html

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Piloting 30 cell phones in the classroom: Test One “Twitter”

This past week I introduced my students to the 30 HTC Touch Pro2 I am going to test for the remainder of the year.  Each student was assigned their own phone.  After allowing the students a day to familiarize themselves with the phones I decided to try them out.

My first use with the phones, as a resource, in the classroom was to test out Twitter with my Jr. High Students.  As I presented information to them on Washington State history specifically the fur trade and missionaries.  They were allowed to participate in a back channel on twitter. If you are not familiar with back channeling is when people in the audience converse online about the topic being presented to them live.  To do this they use a designated hash tag in Twitter to see and respond to people in the class.  I was surprised by the by the results of my little experiment. Students were very engaged with the topic and obviously the technology.  I was also very surprised to see that they stayed on topic.   Not only were they on topic but they answered each others questions and posed other questions to each other.

On the second day, I decided to post questions to them on the topic and have them respond to those as well.  This really seemed to keep them engaged on the topic being presented.  I even had a student at home who logged on to Twitter and was participating in class from home. I did find that conducting a class and monitoring and posting to Twitter was quite difficult.  Although by the second day, I did see how it could be done.

While I was encouraged and saw the potential of this type of technology use in the classroom I am not sure if this would be a great fit for Jr. High students.  Some of the students a hard time using the phones and got frustrated with the technology.  As a result this pulled them off task as they tried to fix their phone or interrupting class to vent about their phone.  I felt that there is some true potential to using this type of social networking in class.  Will be revamping my use from what I have learned over the past week and giving it another try. Will post the results when I do.

One of the issues that I had was the Twitter client that I used.  I was using a Twitter client called MoTweets.  Does anyone know another mobile application for a windows mobile phone that that works better?  I felt that this client was not very reliable and often very slow to post to Twitter.  If you know of one please leave me a comment.

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An Intriguing Entry Task

This past week I came across a video by Daniel Pink called “Two simple questions that can change your life in 2010”.  This is a video to promote his new book called Drive.  As I watched this video I really began to think about my students and how many of them lack motivation because they do not have a purpose or goal in their lives.  So I decided to use this video as an entry task for my next lesson.  The results were very enlightening and really allowed me to gain some excellent insight about my students.  This is one of those exercises to go into the toolbox for future years to come.

As my students came into my room I told them to get a sheet of paper out.  Once they were all seated and the bell rang I played the video. When the video was complete we discussed motivation and its link to having a purpose.  I used the analogue about a dartboard.  If I do not have a clear goal it is like throwing darts at the dart board with my eyes closed.  I am unable to adjust and get frustrated that I can only hit the board occasionally.  But if I have my eyes open not only do I see what I am aiming at I can make adjustments to increase my chances for success.  After answering questions and making the link between finding what they like to do and using that as motivation to achieve in school.  I posed the following question to them.

“What is your sentence for this year at school?”

The answers that I received really surprised me.  I found out things that I did not know about my students.  I felt as though I really got to know some of my students and what they really wanted in life.  This was one of those exercises that really opened my eyes and is one that I will refine and definitely do again.  Click the link below to see the video.This past week I came across a video by Daniel Pink called “Two simple questions that can change your life in 2010”.  This is a video to promote his new book called Drive.  As I watched this video I really began to think about my students and how many of them lack motivation because they do not have a purpose or goal in their lives.  So I decided to use this video as an entry task for my next lesson.  The results were very enlightening and really allowed me to gain some excellent insight about my students.  This is one of those exercises to go into the toolbox for future years to come.

As my students came into my room I told them to get a sheet of paper out.  Once they were all seated and the bell rang I played the video. When the video was complete we discussed motivation and its link to having a purpose.  I used the analogue about a dartboard.  If I do not have a clear goal it is like throwing darts at the dart board with my eyes closed.  I am unable to adjust and get frustrated that I can only hit the board occasionally.  But if I have my eyes open not only do I see what I am aiming at I can make adjustments to increase my chances for success.  After answering questions and making the link between finding what they like to do and using that as motivation to achieve in school.  I posed the following question to them.

“What is your sentence for this year at school?”

The answers that I received really surprised me.  I found out things that I did not know about my students.  I felt as though I really got to know some of my students and what they really wanted in life.  This was one of those exercises that really opened my eyes and is one that I will refine and definitely do again.  Click the link below to see the video.

http://www.danpink.com/archives/2010/01/2questionsvideo

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