Ideas for incorporating AR into research and creative writing projects.

iPads are ubiquitous in today's classrooms, but it takes some work to find educational uses beyond games. A donation of iPads to my second- and third-grade combination classroom last year had me searching for new and exciting ways to implement them.

I set out to find ways to use QR codes in my classroom and discovered the augmented reality (AR) app Aurasma. I was overwhelmed with the potential of using augmented reality to support instruction. While QR codes act as two-dimensional bar codes that hyperlink to various types of printed information, augmented reality uses technology in which an image (marker) is linked to a 3-D video that appears directly on the image. The image appears to come to life once you hover the iPad (or iPhone) over it like a magic wand.

I was hooked. But how was I going to implement AR technology in my elementary school classroom? And how would I integrate it with my instruction? I needed something more kid-friendly that would tie into what students were learning. Ultimately, I settled on a simple way to incorporate AR into students' research and creative writing projects.

First, find an appropriate AR marker for the writing topic, which students color (if necessary). Have them research and write their stories or reports. Then use an iPad to view 3-D video on the marker using the app. Afterward have each student step behind her marker and start the video again on the iPad, taking a screenshot while it's running. It makes a great picture of the 3-D object of the story with the student in the background.

These apps became my go-to apps for AR resources:

  • Quiver (formerly ColAR Mix): This free app has a variety of markers that are downloaded from its website and colored. Not all the markers are free, but the project examples included here feature free ones. This app has had a very recent makeover, and it appears the developers are marketing it to education users.
  • Spacecraft 3D: This free app has a number of markers (no coloring necessary) with 3-D videos of a variety of spacecraft, as well as information students can use for research.

Here are five of my students' favorite augmented reality projects:

  1. Use a National Geographic Explorer article to write a simple report on tropical birds and then color Quiver markers of a tropical bird. Take a screenshot and make posters of the reports with the markers.
  2. For Fire Safety Week, have students draw a map of their home escape routes. Then they can color the Quiver fire truck marker. Make posters of the maps with the marker and photos or screenshots.
  3. Use the Quiver globe marker to identify and label the seven continents. Color the marker with colored pencils, take a photo or screenshot, and then mount it on construction paper.
  4. Right after the holidays, have students write a story about their "Favorite Gift" (given or received). Students color the Quiver gift marker and take a photo or screenshot just as confetti starts coming out of the box. Mount the photo and story on construction paper and fold it like a book.
  5. Students use the Spacecraft 3D app to research a spacecraft. They can use Popplet to make a graphic organizer, placing facts about the spacecraft around the photo or screenshot.

We all love doing AR projects! It feels like a bit of magic to share and take home. (I always send home the child's marker so that parents can download the app and watch the 3-D video.) I look forward to using more AR this year as a tool for student engagement with their writing, social studies, and science projects.

Susan K.

My name is Susan Kunze. I live in Bishop, California. Bishop is a small, very rural community on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains. My wonderful husband and I have lived in Bishop more than thirty-five years, raising our two sons here. I enjoy time with family exploring our beautiful "backyard", being involved in community theater productions, vocal music, reading, writing, and traveling.

My educational background includes a Master's degree in education, with an emphasis in curriculum development and instructional methodologies, from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I received my Bachelor's degree in history and Spanish from Point Loma Nazarene University, where I also received my multiple subject teaching credential.

I love teaching! I recently retired after teaching in the elementary grades at Bishop Elementary School for more than thirty of my forty-year career.. My assignments included second, third, and mixed-grade (combination) classes at first, second and third grade, as well as serving as our district K-5 coordinator. Bishop Elementary, where I still serve as a volunteer teaching STEM, is a Title 1 school and has a high percentage of SED (socio-economically deprived)students. Students include English language learners and Native American students from our local Paiute Shoshone tribe. It has been my continuing effort to provide the best, most appropriate education for each student.

Although I am a recent retiree with many years of teaching experience, I have made it a priority to keep on the cutting edge of teaching practice and available technologies. Throughout my career I have been very active in state and national STEM projects, including writing teacher resource materials, writing for web-based teacher resources, such as NCTM Illuminations and LearnZillion, and as a member of the California state mathematics framework and ELA/ELD textbook committee. I was honored to be named a recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in 2010.

I am currently a member of CalTAC, the California Teacher's Advisory Council for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) for the California Council of Science and Technology. As a member of CalTAC, I help advise CCST on providing opportunities for teachers to use digital tools in the classroom, connect innovators to enable the sharing and advancement of new ideas, and advise and support state initiatives and polices regarding STEM education and curriculum. In addition, I am an Ozobot Certified Educator and a QuiverVision Ambassador. Scholastic Publishing will be publishing my new teacher resource book on STEM topics later in 2018.

I am excited about all that CommonSense Media has to offer teachers in supporting student learning and achievement. It is a valuable resource, and I hope that my small contribution here will scale my impact to classrooms everywhere.