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The Age of Augmented and Virtual Reality
By: Second Grade Teachers Maggie Martin and Jamie Rhinesmith
With technology at our fingertips, there are endless opportunities to extend our topics of teaching and engage our students in the learning process. While teaching during a global pandemic has certainly presented its challenges, it has also helped us to open our eyes to new ways of presenting material. Two of the most engaging practices we introduced the students to last year, and continue to utilize this year, were Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Virtual Reality, or VR, implies a complete immersion experience, meaning students are able to feel as though they are a part of a new environment. Augmented Reality, or AR, involves adding digital elements into our live view so that students are able to feel like there are objects in our classroom that are not actually there.
One subject for which we have found the use of VR and AR to be especially valuable is geography. The second grade geography curriculum has students learning all about the continents of the world. Some of our students have actually traveled to places all over the world, but for those who have not, virtual field trips allow students to find themselves in another place across the globe, without even leaving our classroom. The Nearpod app is a wonderful resource we have utilized, as it contains pre-made virtual field trips that give students the opportunity to visit a variety of places from the Grand Canyon in the United States to the outback in Australia. Second grade students have visited the Colosseum in Italy, the Sydney Opera house in Australia, Stonehenge in England, Times Square in New York, and Hong Kong in Japan! We have seen and discussed the unique architecture of the old towns of Europe and the amazing churches in Mexico.
Our AR experiences have brought life right into our classroom. Along with learning about the people and landforms of each continent, we also talk about the native animals. Google offers a 3D animal list that brings active, and at times noisy, animals into our very own classroom. We have had alligators on the teachers’ desks, koalas on chairs, and a platypus swimming around above our heads. VR and AR have not only increased student learning, but have done so in an engaging and fun way!
Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in St. Louis, is a private preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills. Request a free Rossman School brochure here.