Google Expeditions – VR in the Classroom

November 8, 2017

At work, I was detailing my experience with virtual reality using a Play Station 4 virtual reality system when a colleague asked if I had looked at Google Expeditions.  No I had not!  That night I did some research and found out that a Google Expeditions app had to be download on my Android phone (Samsung A5).    I made sure I was using my WiFi so that I would not incur data charges.  After the app was loaded, I was not finished because this app requires an appliance to hold the phone and view in 3D.  Searching on the Net, I found that Google Cardboard was required.  There are many different models available and yes, some are cardboard, but I purchased a plastic device that had mostly 5 star reviews.   It was under $8!   The next day it arrived and I found it easy to set up.  After loading the app on my phone, I had to scan the QR code on the side of the viewer to let my phone know which ‘cardboard’ viewer I was using. I placed my phone into the device and very soon, a series of scenes loaded and I could see children in a classroom, view the planets, look around Paris and more.   In one expedition, I had a 360◦ expedition to the Taj Mahal, which described its history through audio and visual text.

The Google ‘Cardboard’ experience differs from the 1850s to the 1930s stereoscope or the View-Master, which was introduced in 1939 in that they produced static images.  With Cardboard, moving the head left, right, up or down, reveals different parts of the image as if you are standing in the middle of the scene.  I did find the image to be pixelated and thought it might be my phone. However, further experimentation with an iPhone 5S resulted in a similar appearance.  This is not close to the interactive experience I had with PlayStation 4 VR but for an $8 device I was more than satisfied,

I am not recommending a particular Cardboard device as I have only had experience with one model.  However, if you go to YouTube and type in Google Cardboard VR, you will find many videos that describe different viewers and explain how they work.  Google states that as of May 2017, there were over 600 expeditions and about 2 million students have had the Cardboard experience.  This technology could increase understanding of topics that in the past were difficult to describe.  There are exciting times ahead for our students!

 

Happy Learning!

Mrs Blossom Signature

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Future Possibilities with VR

October 25, 2017

My nephew saved his money for many months so that he could buy a virtual reality (VR) system and the other day I had the opportunity to try it out.  I am blown away.  I put on a helmet and headphones and then he gave me two wands.

With the system fired up, I saw that I was in a room with a 360◦ view and I had in front of me, a computer, desk, coffee machine and donuts.  My hands no longer resembled my own but I was able to control the ‘new’ hands with the wands.    First, I tried making coffee but because I was clumsy, I dropped the mug.  It would take some practice to become dexterous.  When I brought the donut to my mouth and then pulled it away, only half the snack remained.  A computer voice continually gave me tasks to perform.  As instructed, I deleted virtual email and hired workers for my business.  My nephew filmed my progress and it was funny to see my image moving about the space, carrying out the tasks when in reality there was NOTHING there.

This is only the beginning.  In the future, with the ability to perform in virtual reality, students could be transported to other countries, places of work, space and more, all in the safety of the classroom.   What impact will VR have on our youth as this technology becomes more widespread and affordable?

Check out this video to see how it works.  At approximately three quarters of the way through the video, you can see the wand system I was using.  https://www.cnet.com/special-reports/vr101/

 

Happy Learning!

Mrs Blossom Signature

A Fun Attendance Activity for your SMART Board

October 11, 2017

Our teachers love to start the day with an attendance activity.  This routine ensures that the students know what to expect when they enter the classroom and for younger students, it is a simple way to have them review the spelling of their name.  James Hollis of Teachers Love SMART Boards has created a Halloween attendance activity that is easy to edit so that your students’ names are displayed.  It also greets them with `hello` in several different languages.  The downloaded SMART Notebook file includes instructions for editing.

To get to the page with the download, copy and paste the following url into your browser.

http://teacherslovesmartboards.com/say-hello-fall-attendance/#sthash.opstZA5L.dpbs

 

Happy Learning!

Mrs Blossom Signature

I Be Jammin’

September 27, 2017

Yesterday, as part of my professional development, I had the opportunity to play with a Jamboard.  What is that, you ask?  It is a classy looking whiteboard with a difference… or two.  Made by Google (and globally distributed by BenQ), it integrates with G-Suite (Google Suite).

 

Here are a couple of You Tube videos that illustrate the features… a picture is worth a thousand words after all!

 

You can see that the videos show the Jamboard in a business environment but when I think of coaching, math, science and more, there are many reasons I would like one of these in my classroom.  The words that come to mind are EASY, COLLABORATIVE and ENGAGING.  Why wouldn’t I want one?  Check it out!

 

Happy Learning!

Mrs Blossom Signature

SMART Activity Lab has Options!

September 13, 2017

By now, you have probably had some experience with Match ‘Em Up and Flip Out, found in the Activity Lab in Notebook.  The latest versions of Notebook have provided some improvements that you may want to explore.

When you click on any option in the Activity Lab, note the lines next to the question mark at the top right.  Click on those lines and then click on Create New.  Now you have choices including Matched Pairs, Single List, Quiz or Student List.   Choose Matched Pairs to add a list of words and pictures.

Note that the pictures have to be accessible from a file as you do not have access to the Gallery.  Once you save your lists, you can add them to Flip Out or Match ‘Em Up by clicking on the blue lines/plus sign near the top right of the window for those activities!  How cool is that?  Two activities are made with the effort it takes to make one!  I love SMART Notebook!

I made a simpler url so that you can find instructions for SMART Lab Activities.  Have fun creating!  http://tinyurl.com/activity-lab-instructions

 

Happy Learning!

Mrs Blossom Signature

Kapp IQ to SMART Notebook 17

August 30, 2017

Did you know??

You can now transfer drawings and notes from Kapp IQ to SMART Notebook 17!  When I heard about this, I wanted to try it so that students could polish their work and print it out if they wished.  However, I could not find instructions for the process… not saying they aren’t there.  I just couldn’t find them!  So, the other day, I spent some time experimenting and it is easy.  I have made illustrated instructions for you.   Granted they include 14 steps but after you do it a few times, it will make sense and you will be able to do it blindfolded…  well not quite blindfolded but the point is, it won’t take long.

One thing that you will need is the KAPP Add-on for SMART Notebook.  Get it here…  http://go.smarttech.com/notebook-kapp.  It will be added to the Add-Ons (puzzle piece) tab that includes Image Web Search, You Tube, SMART Blocks etc. in SMART Notebook 17.  If you don’t see it there, click on Add-Ons in the top menu and then click on Manage Add-ons…  Finally, click on SMART Kapp to ensure it is enabled and click Done.

Let me know if you have any questions about the installation or the process I described in the instruction pdf. Click here to see it.

 

Happy Learning!

Mrs Blossom Signature

 

Hitachi’s Interactive Projectors

August 16, 2017

For an affordable interactive display, we love our Hitachi interactive projectors.  The images are crisp and the special pens powered by 2 AAA batteries are accurate and responsive.  I like the fact that this projector calibrates automatically and that software is included in the purchase.  Starboard software is fairly intuitive but if you wonder how to use it, there are lots of videos on Youtube.  One feature I love is that you can simply write a word in the interactive area of Starboard, click on the drop down menu and search for that word on internet.  There is no faster way of finding information!  The toolbox in the toolbar area contains a screen block, stopwatch, spotlight, some math tools and more!  You can write and quickly convert to text so that notes appear more professional.  Another feature of this projector is that it functions without a computer being attached.  Make notes and save these files so you can open them at a later date or save them to a usb and transfer them to a computer.  There are templates stored as well so when your computer is out for repair, use the Venn diagrams, the backgrounds for student writing and planning, do some brainstorming and much more.

 

Happy Learning!

Mrs Blossom Signature

SMART IQ

August 2, 2017

What a great name for a new product; SMART IQ.  Intelligent but simple to use, this is an appliance that can be purchased with many of the new SMART Boards.  Adding it means that you can access internet, load Notebook files, run SMART Lab activities, cast from a tablet or computer and use your SMART Board as a white board that allows you to save notes…  all WITHOUT a computer attached.  Think of these scenarios.  You planned a lesson but your computer has been sent in for service.  You can use SMART IQ!  A planning time teacher wants to use your SMART Board but you need to use your computer.  No problem!  You want your students to work on an AMP activity but you need to make computer notes about the small student group who are working with you.   Detach your computer from the SMART Board and using IQ access internet to start AMP.

 

Happy Learning!

Mrs Blossom Signature

Making things simple: SMART Notebook’s Welcome Page

July 19, 2017

When Notebook 17 opens you will see a Welcome Page that displays among other things, links to your most recent files.  There is also a shortcut to the SMART Exchange where you can find many Notebook files that have been created by educators and educational companies.  What many new SMART users explore first is the “Learn the Basics” button.  When you click on this, you will be presented with online instructions and two downloadable pdfs:  one is a user guide and the other compares Notebook on Macs and  Windows machines.  You might also appreciate the troubleshooting section found here.

If you click on Unlock all Features, you will be presented with an online screen that will help you calculate the cost of buying the product for yourself or your classroom.  You will find a link at the top of the page to help you locate an educational seller who can provide the license for SMART Notebook. Note that your district may be buying Notebook software and this could result in a lower overall cost, so my advice is to leave this process to them if possible.

 

Happy Learning!

Mrs Blossom Signature

Great News for SMART Response Users

July 5, 2017

Some of our teachers were reluctant to update to Notebook when they learned that it no longer supported SMART Response.   Now they can!  SMART has been busy ensuring that response quizzes and formative assessments made in the original Response will now convert to Response 2.

I tried it and here’s how it works.  Open Notebook 17.  In the main menu, click on File and Open.  Navigate to your original Response quiz/test/assessment and watch as the file is automatically converted to Response 2.  You will get a message that a new activity is being made from your file and all pages in the file that were not part of the question set will remain the same.   Next you will see your original file and this may confuse you at first!  Scroll to the end of your response questions and the quiz will automatically load in SMART Response 2!   Once I saw that the test was running in Response 2, I deleted the pages from the original file.

I found out that any pictures from my original test did not appear in the updated file so I edited the new test to insert them into each question.  Note that you will not be able to drag the pictures from the original file because they are not in the correct format.  Use the capture tool to save them as individual jpg files.  Then insert these newly created picture files into your Response 2 quiz.  Math question types are not supported and there is a limit of 150 characters for the question text.   Otherwise, I am a happy camper!

 

Happy Learning!

Mrs Blossom Signature