Friday, September 19, 2014

Augmented Reality

So I've always felt like I live in a bit of augmented reality, but I should be clear that today's blog post is actually about the technology kind.....

At tech training this summer, I went to a session covering augmented reality or AR as it is sometimes known. All I can say is WOW. This stuff blew my mind. There are several AR apps to choose from - some free, some not. There are some kits to buy as well, such as Osmo....I like that one a lot! It is so much fun! As great as they are for the general classroom, they aren't quite as applicable in the music room. (Unless you have tons of free time to really, really use some creative license in your curriculum...I don't have that much wiggle room in the schedule!)

This week, I found a pretty good use for one called ColAR Mix. I had to miss a day this week and needed a fail-proof sub plan for a non-musical sub. I thought a musical story book and a quick AR coloring sheet to go along with the book would be perfect. I don't normally do this kind of lesson, but I thought it would be a perfect way to introduce the kids (and parents) to some new technology! ColAR Mix's website provides a handful of free worksheets to go along with basic app and provides the directions already at the bottom of the worksheet. So when the kids took their worksheet home at the end of the day, the parents could follow the directions to get the app themselves. (I told them if they don't have a device at home, they can bring it back and I'll show them what it does.)

So I chose the book "De Paseo por la Selva" with CD included so the sub didn't have to sing it. It is full of great animal sounds, which is wonderful for vocal explorations. Not to mention it has a woman's solo voice, a man's solo voice and then a chorus of voices. This is perfect for differentiating between various voices and timbres. Cross-curriculur-wise (is that a word?!), the main character travels to the jungle, the desert, the mountain, the ocean, the river, and more. All of this is in Spanish, but even my non-Spanish speakers could figure out the basics of the story by following the pictures and animal sounds. The song is very catchy as well!

I then paired it with the tropical bird coloring sheet from ColAR. I left directions for the sub to ask them to imagine that the main character had met this bird on her travels. What color is it? What sound would it make? Does it have a song that it sings? Once it was colored, they could take it home, follow the directions at the bottom, and bring it to life.

When I returned to school, I felt a bit bad that some kids got to do this cool lesson and the others didn't....so I continued it today! I'm so glad I did too because they really had a great time. And it was so fun to hear them give voices to their birds. I also got to see their reactions to the AR in person. I was able to activate their birds in class rather than just sending the coloring sheets home. Take a look:



This is not the greatest video; I had my iPad in one hand, and getting this video on my iPhone with the other hand. Multitasking at its best. Sort of. :) If you're careful, you can even put your hand in front of the camera and make it look like the bird is sitting on your finger. The kids just went crazy for that!

So give some AR a try if you have a chance! Even if you're just exploring it for yourself or your children at home for fun, these apps are unbelievable

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