Incorporating augmented reality experiences in the classroom using Spacecraft 3D By NASA

3d spacecraft

Hello, all! Better late than never. I’m writing to hype up the awesome app called Spacecraft 3D, an augmented reality app available for free for iPhones and Apple products (and also for Androids, I think) by NASA.

Overview: This app requires you to download and print a PDF of pictures– markers– for the app to interact with. I used the included marker that focuses on Mars rovers. Once you have both the app and at least one copy of the marker sheet, just hover your phone/ tablet over one of the pictures and this happens:
IMG_0783 (1)When you hover your tablet or phone over an image of Mars that a specific rover explored, said rover appears as a 360 degree view 3D image! In the image above, you are viewing the Curiosity.

The image is also interactive. If you click the icon of a mini rover (second from the right), most of the images will move. For instance, the Mars Exploration Rover will unstow and open up. Others have things attachments that unfold when engaged.

If you do not have access to a printer and want to mess around with this app, you can pull the markers up on a different screen and hover the Spacecraft 3D app over the screen.

Once students have explored a rover’s movement and build, they can click the icon all the way on the right that is an italicized I. This will provide a non-fiction text listing the proportions of whichever specific rover you are exploring, as well as launch information, and the history of the vehicle.

Application: I had a worksheet with specific questions about each rover for the students to answer as they explored. This was a station of about 7 students in my classroom on a day that the students explored how technology enhances space exploration. Each student at this station had a marker, and most had a tablet or phone to hover over the images. I also had a station with a telescope and questions, and a station with a reading about “planet 9” on NewsELA.

Reaction: The students were FLOORED!!! Every student was trying to stick their hand through the image, and once they realized that they could interact with the images, they were literally grinning ear to ear. I wish I took pictures, but I needed my phone at the station for the students to use.

“This is a real thing! Ah! This was really on Mars?!!!”- confused and excited student.

Pros: This app really helped the students understand rovers better. They were able to learn that they are smaller than rocket ships, they were able to read about each rover, and they were able to see how versatile each spacecraft is with the interactive component. The students at this station were 100% engaged, and have been asking me to help them download the app and print markers that we did not use in class (yet!).

This app is a perfect match for the following standard:

ES47: Identify and explain advances in technology that have enabled the exploration of space

Cons: You really have to man this at a station or however you first present this to your class. I know that at my school, the students do not normally use technology like this, and I really had to walk them through the features. To help with this, I trained several “experts” from my homeroom, and went through the app ahead of time with them. That way, they were able to help the students throughout class.

Another problem I had is that although I asked all week for students to bring in phones and tablets, only about 5 per class brought them in. This app would be more ideal if I had a class set of tablets already set up with the apps I wanted– which is my goal for 2016-2017.

Last note: If you teach space in your science curriculum, give this app a try! Don’t be afraid of management- the students will be so shocked and fascinated by NASA’s Spacecraft 3D that they will be on their best behavior in order to participate!  I am already trying to figure out how to get iPADS for next year to do more stuff like this. KIDS ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT HOW AWESOME THIS CLASS WAS!


Nearpod for Dummies

In December, SPICYSCIENCETEACHER convinced you of the wonders of Nearpod.  I know that after reading that post, I wanted to use it in my classroom to deliver seamless instruction and whole group CFUs.  And I did –  but only after hitting some snags.  Read on to find out the easiest ways to get started and how to avoid some of the time-sucking pitfalls that I ran into along my journey to 100% engagement.

Creating a Presentation:

Before you can create a presentation, you have to sign in.  You can choose to create a username and password or you can log in with your google sign in.  That’s easy.

Next, Nearpod asks you what you would like to do.  If you’re trying to make a new presentation for class tomorrow, click on “Create.”

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Here’s where these tips come in handy.  I find that creating slides within Nearpod is clunky and awkward.  It requires a lot of maneuvering for not a lot of payoff.  To get around this, I create my presentations in Google Slides first and then add in the CFUs later.

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To upload to Nearpod, you need to download your presentation as a PDF.

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Then, drag your file to Nearpod.

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All of your slides should be added!

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Adding in CFUs:

Now to the fun part, adding your CFU questions!

To add in a question, click on the space in between the slides you want to insert a question.  Click on Add Slide –> Add Activity –> and click on the type of activity you want.

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Multiple choice questions are “Quiz” questions.  I often use “Open End Question” for answers that require typing a sentence.  In science class, we sometimes use “Draw It” and you can draw on a diagram of your choosing.  Many of the other types of questions are reserved for paying subscribers.  In my experience, I’ve found I usually don’t need any more than these three types of CFUs.

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Tips for Presentation:

I teach 3rd and 4th graders so I’ve found that structuring INM a certain way can make my life and their lives a lot easier.  First, I make sure to type the website on their classwork.  I also include a line that they can write the class code on in case they accidentally click out of the tab.

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Elementary students work at all different paces, so I usually keep a completed set of notes on the ELMO and reveal answers as we go along in the presentation.  That way, students are practicing getting information from the computer presentation but can also check to see if their paper is missing anything even if we’ve moved on.

Because the results can be published to the whole class, I also find that answering questions can be time consuming because students REALLY want to get the right answer.  I structure that by having a countdown to when answers need to be submitted.


Hope this helps get you started with powerful and engaging INM!  Feel free to leave any other tips and tricks in the comments.


Weo: Pinterest for Teachers

I’m addicted to Pinterest.  I can get sucked into a black hole of time looking up amazing things for my home and classroom.  When I came across I got really excited for multiple reasons.

  1. I can create digital versions of my favorite worksheets with ease.
  2. I can track any given student’s progress though an assignment
  3. I can pin (yes, I said pin) assignments that other teachers have created and then use those for my own students.

When you first log in, you see your dashboard.  The more teachers you follow, the more diverse your dashboard will be, put you can see what it looks like:

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Here’s where you can choose to look at another teacher’s materials or Create a new activity for use with your students.   Even with the Create Activity, they have pre-made templates that be used to or you can start from scratch.   For this post, I’m going to walk you through creating from scratch.

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I love that I have a variety of options for me to create my activity. After I’ve figured out what I want the Title, Description, and Label to me, I add my directions before getting into the meat of the activity

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Now it’s time to add my questions. Again, you have plenty of options that can be used for this.  Notice that multiple choice and short answer can be auto-graded.

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Once you’ve put in your question, you have the ability to change how much the question is worth.  The default is 10 points.  For multiple choice and short answer, I typically change it to be worth 1 point; for Free Response it’s either 2 or 4 points depending on the amount of information that is required to answer the question.

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With multiple choice questions, you can have the answer choices shuffled if you are worried about students looking at other student’s screens.

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Each time you add in a question, it auto-saves, much like Google Drive, you no need to worry about losing your work.  Once you are finished Click on the green “Save Activity” box . This gives you the options of “Assign to Class,” “Pin to Board,” or “Save to Drafts”

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Once it is assigned to a class, you can then head to that class from your Dashboard to track the students as they complete the assignment.  It will give you a quick glance at the assignment. In the first image can see that since I just assigned this, that it is not completed.  However in the second image, you can see that I had 18 turn it in, and 1 did not

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As the students begin to turn in the assignments, you are able to take a look at individual students, or the class as a whole to determine what should be gone over again.

With each assignment that you create, you will want to make sure you pin it to a board so that other teachers can also find it.  I think half of the fun is finding the gems that other teachers have created and using those within your classroom!

Happy creating and pinning!



Using Google Forms in Early Childhood Classrooms

In early childhood classrooms, a large portion of what is taught and assessed are observable skills.  In Pre-K and Kindergarten students need to learn how to hold a book, where to start reading and the difference between a letter and a word.  Below are a few Common Core Standards for Kindergarten English Language Arts.

Print Concepts:


Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.


Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page.


Recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.


Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.


These skills are immensely important but can be difficult to assess in a classroom of thirty students.  Traditional assessments do not work for students who can’t read or write.  This means teachers have to give one on one assessments and take anecdotal notes, a task that can be both daunting and incredibly time consuming.

Recently, I have started using Google Forms to record how students are doing on certain observable Common Core Standards.  I created a form, based on the ten standards I am most interested in tracking data on at the current time.  Then, anytime throughout the day when I see a student reading, I can open the form and record what I notice.  I mark each skill as Mastery, Approaching or Not Yet.

GR Data (2)

This allows me flexibility to record data on students at various times throughout the day– during reading groups or during independent reading time.  I am able to collect data in a way that does not make the task about data collection.  Instead of pulling each student one at a time, while the other 28 work independently, in order to have them read to me, I am now able to gather the information during small group instruction.

My favorite part of this process, is the data collection.  All of the information is saved into a master spreadsheet that looks like this:

GR Data (1)

It is easy to look at overall trends–  which standards are mostly green for mastery vs which have most students in the yellow approaching or red not yet categories. I can also look at specific students and see who is struggling across the board vs. who is only struggling in one area.  This helps me to adjust small group instruction and plan conferences with specific students during independent reading time.

If I am interested in a specific skill, I make a graph of that standard, as seen below.

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The next step for me is to continue to collect the data in the master spreadsheet but also have a spreadsheet for each student.  This will be great to show trends over time for a specific student on specific skills.  I envision making line charts to track their progress on a certain standard and showing this to parents or other teachers and interventionists when we have academic conferences.  

I hope to improve my Google Form so that it includes more skills.  This will allow me to collect data on students who have mastered most of the Kindergarten standards and are working on more advanced skills.

Additionally, I hope to make the Google Form more of a collaborative effort.  My coteacher instructs half of the class during reading groups and our interventionist pulls many of my struggling students to work on these skills in small groups.  I would like them to add data to the form so that we have more information to work with and I have a better idea of how my students are doing in the small groups that I do not teach.

I am excited by how much easier it is to collect data on observable skills.  I plan on tweaking my forms and data collection practices to make the data even more useful.  I would also like to figure out a way to make the data accessible to my students.  It is incredibly powerful when a kindergartener is able to talk about what they are learning and goals for growth.