Monday, April 21, 2014

Augement Reality and Ancient Rome

      The school year has been a whirlwind but we've gotten to do a lot of cool work.  The crazy weather definitely affected our ability to stay on pace but when you're teaching and learning to engage students I try not to get too anxious about pacing guides.  I also find that learning gets messy so you might as well embrace it.
      In late February and March we studied Ancient Rome.  This unit is always a favorite of students as they love learning about the army, buildings, and gladiators!  What I love getting to share with them is the incredible achievements of the Romans.  There were advancements they had 2,000 years ago that are impressive even in today's society.  Students are shocked and grossed out by some of the ways of Roman life.  Horrible Histories "Roman Baths" is always a favorite to show.  My absolute favorite achievement of the Romans came during Julius Caesar's Military campaign in Gaul.  As he sought to expand his power and Rome's control he decided to take his legions of soldiers across the Rhine River to conquer Germania.  What made this accomplishment so amazing is that Caesar didn't travel by boat but actually had his engineers plan and build an over 400 yard bridge across the river that was wide enough for 40,000 soldiers to cross.  The more amazing feat is that all this was done in 10 DAYS!!!  That's baffling to me to believe.  I try to convey this disbelief and amazement on to my students.  As we began studying this I got the great idea to embrace something I used to do with a more "techie" and research focused approach.  That's what led to "Ancient Roman Replica Research Project."

Objective:  Students work as an individual or group and pick a famous Roman achievement to research in order to build a model of achievement and tell about the history and impact of the item through Videolicious and Aurasma

Step One: Research  Students used this guiding plan to help them with research and directions for the project - Abernathy Replica Research Guide  (3 sources for research with title and urls and urls for all pictures used in Video)

Step Two: Draw Blue Print  Students were asked to draw a blue print of what they wanted their model to look like before building.

Step Three: Write Script Students used the notes created from their research to develop a 45-60 sec script of their replica

Step Four:  Build Replica Students used popsicle sticks, toothpicks, cardboard, paper, and marshmallows to build their replicas

Step Five:  Make the Videolicious and Aurasma  Students used iPod touches to video themselves talking and importing pictures and short video to develop their final video.  This would then be uploaded to Aurasma so they could have a "trigger" image that functions like a QR code.


- I absolutely loved getting to watch my students work on this project.  They really got into it and I could see the expert knowledge they gained from their work.
- I'm glad I only did it with two of my classes first and am doing it with my other two in a different unit.  This made for more manageable days and a break from the chaotic nature of students working across my room and other spaces.
-  Students really built cool models of the buildings.  I was amazed at their precision and attention to detail.  I also liked how they added creativity to what they showed in their replicas.
-  Students actually researched information and had to find authentic details.  This was more than just build a model.  They had to know the background.  I saw how this helped them know the Roman content better overall.

Room for improvement:
-  Have students bring in more supplies.  I bought them for these students and ended up wasting a lot of supplies
-  Tighten up the research.  I've gotten better and enforcing proper citations but I want students to get even stronger.  They've really gotten strong with using free to use pictures instead of copyrighted
- Strengthen my help for guiding their topics and research.  Some hit road blocks initially and I could have helped them better
- Time - It's always tough but I did give this a lot of time and could have used less time.  I struggle with this because I care how much students gett to do the work in class and see their progress.