If These Walls Could Talk: Maximize Your Classroom’s Instructional Potential! (Part 1)

On Friday, November 13 my good friend Joe Zlatnik of Basehor-Linwood Middle School and I had the honor of presenting at the NCSS national conference in New Orleans.  In addition to taking every possible opportunity to eat Cajun food, we spoke with a group of about 40 teachers from across the country about strategies we have used to utilize our physical classroom wall space for instructional purposes


I am a firm believer in trying to give conference attendees as many practical ideas as possible during a session and this year we offered up four activities I have attempted at both Tonganoxie and Gardner Edgerton high schools.  What follows is Part One of this presentation, with parts two through four soon to come.

Strategy  I: If These Walls Could Talk: The Aurasma Concept Review

(Please note that I am in no way connected with the Aurasma app, it is simply something that was shown to me by a media specialist that I thought was cool!)

A common problem that all teachers face is the reality that there are many students who need assistance and only one teacher to go around.  Worse yet, how often do students need a refresher on a topic they are studying without anyone to ask other than the almighty Google?  The Aurasma app provides an innovative way for kids with smartphones to receive that refresher from the teacher him or herself in the comfort of their own home.

Aurasma is a free augmented reality app.  If you are like me and have no idea what that means, the app allows you to tag any image to a specific video or audio recording.  (These videos or recordings can be created by an Aurasma user or a YouTube video can also be used.) Teachers can create their own channel, designate their tagged images and connected videos, and invite students to join.  (Note students must have downloaded the app on their own device.)  

When the app is opened, students can view these tagged images through their camera lens.  The image will then have the connected video superimposed over it on the screen.  As soon as the phone is moved away from the image, the video stops and disappears. I understand that this might be difficult to imagine based on my description, so I also have included links to two example videos to show how it works:

The primary way I have utilized this app is with my Aurasma Concept Review.

Aurasma Study Guide Companion ImageI selected several of the most abstract concepts in 9th grade World History class that students had traditionally struggled with.  In addition to the usual study guide I created a supplemental review sheet containing nothing but the name of the concept and a related image.  

Each of these images was tagged to an audio recording of me quickly summarizing that concept.  Students at home, through the Aurasma app, had the ability to listen to my recap of the lecture as many times as they needed as they went through the traditional study guide.

In addition to the concept review, I have also tagged classroom posters depicting historical events to YouTube videos or homemade recordings explaining what the student is seeing.  At Tonganoxie High School, pictures of senior athletes in the athletics hall were tagged with a video of that student explaining who they were, what they were involved in, and what their plans for the future are.  Talking with co-workers at GEHS, we thought about the potential of recording students’ oral presentations, tagging them to an image and printing the images on a poster for parents to view during an open-house or parent-teacher conferences.

There are a multitude of possibilities for using this app in the classroom, and I feel that I have barely scratched the surface of its potential.  If anyone has used this app or have any ideas of their own please don’t hesitate to comment! (I love to unapologetically steal good ideas . . .)


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