Wednesday, August 28, 2013

AR & TLAP -- Taking Teaching to New Heights!

So, a few months ago I had a dream...  Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) , Drew Minock (@techminock) and Brad Waid (@techbradwaid) weren't necessarily in it...but the three of them were the reason behind it... Before your mind wanders in the wrong directions..... here's what happened:

I don't remember anything about the dream, but I do remember waking myself up saying "ARRRRR" in a deep voice. After I came to my senses, I quickly started laughing, realizing that I was now officially obsessed with Teach Like A Pirate (TLAP) and Augmented Reality (AR). Of course, mixing the two together in a dream doesn't sound THAT outlandish - not to someone who's obsessed!!  :)

However, it wasn't just in my dreams that these two educational Twitter hot topics could be connected. The reason that both of these topics appeal to me so much is because they can be used in a variety of ways. To me, using Augmented Reality IS teaching like a pirate. Dave Burgess says pirates "are daring, adventurous, and willing to set forth into uncharted territories with no guarantee of success." Teachers who try out new methods, such as using Augmented Reality, are without a doubt pirates.

(At this point, if you aren't sure WHAT Augmented Reality is or how it can be used as an effective teaching tool, please check out Brad and Drew's site: More information on TLAP and AR, can be found at the bottom of this post....)

If you know me, you know I like diving into uncharted waters. So when I first learned about the possibilities of Augmented Reality, I decided to jump in the deep end.  Although it was a few weeks before school, I began planning for Open House --- an Open House that I didn't want the students or their families to forget!

In July, I watched Angela Maiers's Ted Talk and fell in love with #YouMatter. I wrote two simple letters to my future students, and my team and I sent the YOU Matter letter to the students a few days before Open House. You can find the letters in this post :)  It's funny I actually mention both TLAP and AR in that post!

Anyway, in the envelope we also included a postcard that "came to life." We sent out a letter and postcard to each student the Friday before Open House. Here are the directions that I put in the letter and here's the front of the postcard.

AR Postcard Directions 
(Original Work by David Lane)
Using Aurasma, I created a very short aura that introduced the teachers and invited the students to Open House. This was my first attempt at using Augmented Reality and, after I got it to work, I wanted more!

So, after the letters were in the mail, I continued to plan for Open House and I decided to create an Augmented Reality tour for our students and their families.  Our building is HUGE and the fifth graders, who are new to the school, are typically wide eyed and very intimidated at Open House. So, I hoped that the AR tour would calm their fears for the first day!

I work with two other teachers, so the three of us each did a segment of the tour. The first trigger was of the following poster. I had two of the same poster in our 'middle room' so many students/families could use the trigger at the same time.

Appropriate Quote huh? :)
This first aura started at our classrooms and highlighted the computer lab, library and most importantly, the restrooms :) The aura ended at the next trigger, which is an mural painted by our school's art teacher, David Lane. I couldn't believe that the mural actually worked, but it did! This part of the tour focused on the Office, Nurse's Station, etc.

Original Work by David Lane
Again, the second aura ended at the last trigger, which was another HUGE mural painted by the same incredible art teacher. The final aura was comprised of a short tour that identified the gym, cafeteria, music room and art room. It ended with a special message from our school's principal welcoming the students and their families. He made sure to end his message saying that he couldn't wait to see the students at school on Wednesday!

Close Up...
(Original Work by David Lane)

A little farther back...
(Original Work by David Lane)
I had several comments from parents and students about the AR postcard and how they had never seen ANYTHING like that before! This was the first thing many people said when I met them. "Hi, my name is Jacob and I loved the postcard!" It was a great first impression. Of course, I went on to welcome them and point out the Augmented Reality tour that we set up :)

 Many of the kids showed their parents how to use the app, even though I only sent directions and never actually 'showed them' how to use it (Kids are so smart! :) There definitely was a different buzz at Open House because of AR :) The students were working together, they were teaching the adults and I just sat back, watched and smiled!

It's kind of ironic. I actually got more comments about the AR postcard and tour than I did about the You Matter letter.....way to go AR! ;) But to me, the main point was to generate excitement for the school year. I not only wanted to let the students know how much they mattered to us, but I wanted them to see first hand that we will go out of our way to create experiences that are unique for them.

After the 5th grade Open House was over, I ventured out into the hallway to find several people surrounding the 2nd trigger holding up their phones in 'camera mode.' I, of course, then spent the next 30 minutes or so spreading the Augmented Reality love to parents and students not on our team. I'm hoping that we will be able to do a few school-wide Augmented Reality projects this year. The interest is definitely there!

Lesson # 29 - The greatest rewards in life go to the greatest risk takers. -Jim McCormick 

(In TLAP language: The richest hidden treasure will go to the pirates who risk life and limb for success :)

So, thanks to AR, our incredible ideas can take flight....
Created with the colAR app 
And, like these pirates, we can take our students to new heights :)
Pirates are everywhere - even the Ohio State Fair!

I know that I had never been so excited for the school year to begin, and I hope the kids felt the same way! I'm looking forward to continuing my use of AR in the classroom and trying every day to Teach Like A Pirate :)

I really need to thank Drew and Brad for being very helpful and hands on. Both helped answer many questions dealing with the tour and postcard. Thank you for your patience and for being my AR heroes!

I also need to thank my colleague, David Lane, for not only being an amazing artist, but for playing a huge role in helping me with the triggers and overlays too! He has jumped on the AR bandwagon and will be instrumental in helping me take AR to the school level!

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't thank Dave Burgess. Thank you so much for being someone we can all look up to, even if you aren't on stilts!


Thanks for reading,

If you would like more information on Teach Like A Pirate go to and follow @daveburgess, and #tlap on Twitter. 

If you're interested in Augmented Reality, don't forget to follow @Techbradwaid, @Techminock, @2GuysShow,  #AR, #AugmentedReality,  #TwoGuysShow, @aurasma, and @layar. And be sure to check out the amazing site :) 

1 comment:

  1. An amazing connection between two incredible thoughts...and of course you did it and made it successful! Great job. Thanks for inspiring more creative thoughts and sharing what you learn. I love to read your posts.