The funny thing about aging is that you don't realize it's happening until it's already happened. I have been blessed to teach in the same classroom for the last decade. I've taught mostly 6th grade Language Arts and Social Studies, but I've also taught 7th grade Language Arts and Social Studies, Video Production, and Associated Student Body government.
This is the first year that I have felt like a veteran teacher.
Maybe it's because we've had an influx of first and second year teachers, or maybe it's that I am no longer quite as peppy as I used to be if I don't get a full seven hours of sleep at night. Probably, it's the fact that my school is celebrating it's 20th anniversary this year. I guess it's hard not to feel at least a little older when you realize you've been around for half the life of an established school.
My leadership class wanted to do something special to recognize our school's 20th year, so we decided to create a living history wall. The original idea was to collect photos from staff and past yearbooks, then create a bulletin board in the hallway to display them. Another group of my leadership students decided to work on a documentary film about our school's history and interview staff members who opened the school. When they started looking at footage of the interviews, one of my students said, "Wow. I wish we could share some of these clips with the school. Our movie is going to take a while to finish, but it would be cool to just show people the best of what we have."
And just like when Marty McFly realizes that time travel really is possible thanks to Doc Brown's DeLorean, my students were super excited when I suggested the concept of augmented reality. If you're unfamiliar with augmented reality, the concept is similar to using QR codes. In both methods, additional content is activated by scanning an image of some kind. In QR, the trigger image is the square code itself. In augmented reality, the trigger image can be anything from a math problem on a page, to a building on your school campus, or a poster hanging on the wall.
Not Yo' Mama's Yearbook Photo Experience
Students began to create their living history wall by requesting yearbooks and photos from staff and administration. They had a blast digging through the images, marking their favorites with sticky notes. Eventually, students narrowed the many photos down to a little over twenty based on the following criteria:
Next, students previewed a ton of documentary footage to match various video clips to images. In some cases, students found perfect clips from the staff interviews they had already shot for the documentary. However, students felt that some of the pictures needed a specialized script, so they wrote and recorded some of their own video commentary, too. While the videos were being filmed and edited, another group of students worked on laying out and stapling up the wall itself.
Since augmented reality is a new idea on campus, students also posted directions next to the wall to help users access all of the content.
The "20 Years of Workman" wall debuted during Parent Conferences. In preparation, ASB students filmed several video tutorials that aired on our weekly school news episodes. Several students even took turns acting as docents with a few classroom iPads in order to demonstrate the wall to parents and allow families without smartphones to participate.
Of course, the best part about this entire process was watching the pride students took in their finished product. In the weeks following conferences, I continue to see students interacting with the content of the wall before and after school.
Want to give augmented reality a try? Check out the resources from the 2014 CUE Conference session delivered by John Stevens and myself:
Author: Jessica Pack
California Teacher of the Year. CUE Outstanding Educator 2015. DIGICOM Learning Teacher Consultant. 6th Grade Teacher. Passionate about gamification, Minecraft, digital story-telling, and fostering student voices.