by Sarah Casterton, 7th Grade Science Teacher and Sarah Zbornik, Instructional Coach
"Some of the things you will never experience are right there for you to see
using VR.”-- 7th grade student.
Sarah Casterton has been intrigued by the idea of bringing Virtual Reality (VR) into her science classroom. After attending the VR technology session during professional development at the start of the school year, she went to Keystone’s media checkout and scheduled the VR kits to be delivered at the end of November. She knew that VR could offer an experience to her students that they could not receive on a typical day.
Mrs. Casterton contacted Brea Baxter, an Instructional Technology Integration Specialist at Keystone who had taught the VR session during professional development, and Sarah Zbornik, an instructional coach to start the process. Keystone’s two sets of equipment totalling 10 headsets for students to use and 10 android phones arrived right on time (checkout reference numbers KM 9796 1L (set of 5) and KM 9796 2L (set of 5). Through a hands on approach, she walked Mrs. Casterton through using the Virtual Reality sets. Ms. Zbornik assisted in troubleshooting difficulties and discussed possibilities for the lessons with Mrs. Casterton.
Due to the number of VR sets, Mrs. Casterton knew she would need to be organized. She mapped out a three day station rotation for the students to follow and separated the students into three different groups. (Please see Mrs. Casterton’s VR rotation schedule here.) Using Canvas, two of the groups were able to work independently, while Mrs. Casterton facilitated the VR session using Google Expeditions, an app that was already downloaded on the phones. Connecting the learning to the classroom, Mrs. Casterton led two expeditions -- Big Cypress National Preserve and Darkling Beetle -- and facilitated discussion as the students explored within VR.
Mrs. Casterton definitely plans to use virtual reality again to allow students to experience science outside of the classroom environment. As one of her students claimed this technology is, “truly out of this world and very hands on.”
If you want to try Virtual Reality or use Canvas during rotations in your classroom, have a chat with Mrs. Casterton to find out more information. The Google Expeditions have experiences that can be used for any classroom, not just science. Virtual reality not only enhances engagement in the learning process, but it also allows students of all income levels to experience the world. Imagine where your students could virtually travel to experience/apply your content standards.
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