‘Mrs. Frizzle & a Greece Tour Guide’ Visited our School

Over the past couple of weeks, we have had students experience learning with the help of Google Expeditions. Both students and teachers alike enjoyed the opportunity to learn curriculum through a different medium than they have in the past. (We are very fortunate that our school is able to share a mobile cart of phones with our middle school to be able to explore different virtual reality applications in the classroom).

Field Trip to Greece
Mrs. Cooney and Mrs. Hatzidakis (and later Mr. Woodhead and Mrs. Devito) were thrilled to know that Google Expeditions had a Greece tour for their Freshmen humanities students to experience. Based on some reading and class activities that they had already experienced in previous classes, Mrs. Cooney was able to reinforce concepts about the Acropolis and other important Greece facts with two different tours. Google Expeditions provided an opportunity to see the Acropolis from a bird eye view.

Mrs. Cooney and Mrs. Hatzidakis also took it to the next level by having students run their own virtual tour by walking through the Acropolis using Sites in VR app. Students were able to experience the actual location through a series of 7 different 360 images. It was great for students to be able to ‘walk through’ at their own pace to make their own observations.

Mrs. Frizzle in 2017

When Mrs. Morrissey found out that Google Expeditions had a tour of the digestive system, she knew right away that she needed to implement it in her IB Biology II SL course this year. She had told the students that as a kid, she always enjoyed watching the Magic School Bus shows, especially the episode of when the school bus brought the students through the digestive system of a body. To think that now Mrs. Morrissey is the ‘new’ Mrs. Frizzle!

I thought it was clever with how Mrs. Morrissey used the app. In other situations, teachers have had students participate in an expedition and then completed other tasks. Mrs. Morrissey instead started the expedition of going into the mouth and esophagus. Then the students took off the headsets and together the class took some notes. Then, the students put on the headsets again for Mrs. Frizzle, I mean Mrs. Morrissey, to walk them through the stomach, etc. So rather than taking notes first and exploring second, the students explored around the particular part of the digestive system, then they took notes. This idea was a great way of breaking up notes.

Some people might say, well Craig, do you need virtual reality in order to help students understand the geography of a place? Can’t you show an image through the projector and accomplish the same thing? My answer to that question is you do not need virtual reality to teach. However, it can be a great opportunity to integrate with curriculum if done thoughtfully. If you are curious how Google Expeditions, or other virtual reality apps, can be used in your classroom, you know where to find me.

And that is my spiel…

#GoogleExpeditions in the Geometry Classroom

*This post is near and dear to me seeing as though I used to teach math for eight years.

Virtual Reality is certainly a buzz word these days. Lately at our school, we have been exploring ways by which we can incorporate virtual reality in the classroom. One idea came from a math teacher, Trever Reeh, who blogged about having students explore angle of elevation.

Google Expeditions

Mrs. Taylor, a Geometry teacher at BHS, decided to try out a similar activity but instead use Google Expeditions. To get the students used to the app, she showed them around Machu Picchu first. She highlighted certain geometric characteristics as well as showcase the area. We heard lots of ‘that’s cool’ and ‘can we go somewhere else’.

Next step was to get students to understand how angle of elevation and right triangles can help determine how far they are in the virtual world to certain landmarks. Two landmarks in particular were the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben. Students were paired up where one visited Paris, while the other visited London.

Mrs. Taylor started a different Google Expedition, High Points of Europe: A Tour of Towers, and had those going to Paris virtually see the Eiffel Tower first. The partner then measured the angle of elevation the student took to see the highest point of the tower. Once the measurements were taken, students switched roles so that measurements could be taken by looking at the top of Big Ben in London.

Students then had to do some quick research on their Chromebook to find out information about how tall the towers are, with correct units, to determine about how far they are from the landmark in the picture.

This was such a great opening activity for the students to learn about a new mathematical topic. They were engaged and had fun. I certainly wish that I was able to implement this activity back when I taught Geometry to my students.

A BIG thanks to Trever for inspiring us to try this out activity. Of course, if you would like to chat about how you can use Google Expeditions or Virtual Reality into your curriculum, stop by and we can chat.

And that is my Spiel…