#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…

Google Street View – Creating 360 Photosphere

This week, Kerri Lunn and I have been exploring around with how one might be able to create a 360 Photosphere. One such app that will allow you to create a photosphere is Google’s Google Street View. This app is different from Google Maps. This free app allows you to explore the world as if you were there in person. It integrates Google street views, still images, as well as 360 photospheres.

Check out the two photospheres that we created:

Main Entrance to Bedford High School

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Tech 222 Office – check out our digs!

Exploring Around the World

When you open the app, you have the ability to search for a particular location at the top of the screen. Based on what you search, you will see a sample of photos and photospheres (360 photo). These will be located at the bottom of the screen. You will also notice who has actually uploaded the photo. By selecting the particular photo or photosphere, it will open to give you the perspective as if you were there in person.

You will notice in this screen shot, that there are three different red dots on Bedford High School indicating that there are three different photospheres available to view. The photospheres were taking in the locations (or almost) that are shown.

Adding Your Own Photosphere
If you want to add your own photosphere, click on the camera icon.

Then you will be prompted to take several pictures guiding the orange dot in the white circle.

Tip: Make sure that you do not move too much as this will distort your image. It definitely takes some getting use to.

Publishing Your Content
Once you have taken multiple pictures to complete a 360 photosphere, it will take a few minutes for the photo to be rendered. Then you will have the option to publish your photosphere. Things to note: in order to publish, use must be logged into your Google Account. Location of the photo will also be provided. Thus, you will want to make sure that your school district allows for work to be published with location tied to it (if you are working with students). Also, proper etiquette is to make sure that people in the photosphere give permission for their picture to be taken if their face appears.
And that is my Spiel…

Creating 360 Videos

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been exploring around with virtual reality and 360 pictures/videos. Through this exploration, I have learned from and been inspired by Sylvia Duckworth (@sylviaduckworth), Kathy Schrock (@kathyschrock), Julie Spang (@jaspang), and Mary Marotta (@mmarotta). My main purpose is to find and implement authentic 360 experiences in the classroom. Sure, it might be cool to be able to take a picture or record something in 360. But how can one make sure that the learning experience has been enhanced.

Implementing 360 Videos

  • Periodically, students and teachers attend field trips throughout the school year. One could bring a 360 camera with them and actually capture part of the experience. This then could be shared with students who could not attend due to being out sick for that time.
  • Each year, students and teachers participate in what we call Intersession. This is where all parties involve participate in an experience beyond the typical curriculum. Some travel throughout the world – this year some students will be going to China as well as Machu Picchu. By capturing 360 video, Spanish teachers could integrate actual experiences with future classes about the location and culture.
  • Each year our seniors are required to do a senior project. How cool would it be for a senior to record their application of knowledge? That senior could then take that video and have students virtually experience what the student experienced during their senior project presentation with the help of VR headsets. (Great idea Ms. Hatzidakis!)
  • In the future, it would also be great for students to be able to take a 360 image and curate information relating to that image by placing hot spots. I know that some programs like Thinglink are already creating ‘spaces’ for uses to be able to do such a thing. Just a different way of sharing information beyond a typical Google Slide presentation or poster presentation.
Creating 360 Videos

Our school purchased a Richo Theta S. This camera allows a user to be able to take still 360 images as well as record true 360 video. I have found it very easy to capture images and video from the device. I, however, found it a bit challenging to actually upload a 360 video to YouTube. You cannot just go to YouTube to upload the video file like you would with any other non 360 video.

So, what is the process that I took? First I took the footage on the camera. I then followed the instructions that Ricoh provided on their website – where I connected the camera to my Mac computer. I found the file that I was interested in, but you will notice that the file is in the format of two different camera shots (see image below).

You must open the Ricoh app (already downloaded on my Mac computer) and place the file in the app. This will create the ‘360 file’ that you really want. Unless I am missing something, you cannot just place this MP4 file in YouTube. YouTube will not know that it is an actual 360 video. On YouTube’s help website, it states:

“Your video file needs to include certain metadata for 360° playback to be enabled.”

So, I had to install an app on my Mac computer so that it will add the metadata it needs into a new file. Instructions on this process can be found HERE.

Once this was done, the file was then uploaded to YouTube. You will know that your video uploaded correctly if you see the arrows on the top left corner (when viewing video on laptop) or the cardboard icon shows up on bottom right corner (when viewing on a mobile device).

While this all seems like a lot of steps and a lot of work, it really isn’t. Just a new process of doing something new. Now that I know what is entailed, I will be able to do this much faster in the future. 
Below is my very first attempt to uploading a 360 video to YouTube. It was filmed on a nice winter day on a country road. Yes, you will get to watch me walking in the middle of the road. I encourage you to see the difference between using a VR headset and a chromebook/laptop. The video most certainly will not receive any Academy awards as the quality is not great. I was more interested in learning about the process of how one could create such video. Moving forward, I would use a selfie stick or a camera stand (if stationary) when filming. You will notice that the camera does take itself out of the video but you can still tell that a hand was holding the camera while filming the video.

I can’t wait to investigate more with 360 videos and virtual reality. It seems as though this is where we are headed. Just have to keep in mind of practical uses in the classroom. You know where to find me if you want to chat about how you can implement this in your curriculum.

As always, that is my Spiel…

New Year – Reflection and Being Present

So I am going to be one of those people who adds their own thoughts about the new year and moving forward. Here is my top five list.

Reflection – can be an important and valuable thing – and I have found myself doing this a lot more lately, which is a GREAT THING.

What have I been reflecting on you might ask?

1. Being creative and innovative – now that we no longer new to #GSuite I am constantly trying to find ways of being more creative with the tool. One of those is how I am delivering professional development for the staff. This year, the librarian and I have created our own badge system (with inspiration from others) to help encourage our staff to take their learning to the next level with a combination of Google Classroom and Google Sheets. How can we continue to push the envelope and take things to the next level? Can’t wait to find out!

2. Learning from peers – Last month we had some visitors come to Bedford High School to see how technology is integrated into classes. While this has not been the first time we have had visitors, I decided to stay with the visitors during the classroom visits this time around. Even though I know what tools our staff use in the classrooms, I still found myself learning a trick or tip from them. If I had not of stayed in the class, I would have missed these great moments. This is why I am now going to make an effort to carve out some time during my schedule at least twice a month to visit some classes and see how teachers are in fact using the tools that are at their disposal. We all do great things, we all can learn from one another, and I look forward to seeing what cool things I will discover from others.

3. #Observeme – This concept connects with bullet 2 on learning from others. This concept was shared with me last month where staff members encourage their peers to observe their lesson to either help give feedback or share something new that is being implemented into the classroom. This is something that I hope to implement either in the classroom or during teacher trainings that I give. To learn more about this concept, check out the twitter hashtag.

4. Virtual Reality – When you turn on the TV you see more and more people talking about the new direction we are going (or already in) in – and it is called Virtual Reality. What does VR look like in the education setting – beyond just being submersed in a 360 movie? How can students create their own VR project? These are great questions that I look forward to diving into.

5. Living in the Moment – Over vacation break, the video “This is exactly what’s wrong with this generation” was shared multiple times on my social media feeds. I decided to actually watch it (even though it was 15 mins long) and realized that this video does not just pertain to millennials. This video pertains to everyone that uses mobile devices. While watching, I found that I could relate with checking my phone at times that I shouldn’t.  While I am not addicted to being on social media, I know that I can cut down my use. I want to live more in the moment.  This video is another great reminder that we need to help support our students handle their mobile devices.

Of course, these are not the only items that I will focus on throughout 2017…they just happen to be on my mind at this time.

At that is my spiel…