Sunday, March 20, 2016

#FVvr Scouting Field Trip & Research

Since the visit from Park Rangers Tessa Langford and Bob Cromwell of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site came to our school, Vancouver iTech Preparatory, our students have been busy.  They have been broken down into different teams to research the different buildings and areas of the park.  To do this, we allowed students select three possible locations that they were interested in, then we were able to divide the students into teams based on research interest.  This gives the students voice and choice in the project.  Once that occurred we went on our scouting field trip.  On that trip, the students toured the entire park and then got to spend some time in the buildings that they are researching.  When they were in their buildings, they needed to select at least one artifact that they found interesting to conduct research on.

After the first trip to the park, students began their research and work.  Each team of students began looking through the resources on the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site's webpage, several publications ,such as Exploring Fort Vancouver, the Google Cultural Institute, and even emailing with Park Rangers Tessa and Bob to conduct their research.  Each student is writing a script for a narration on their artifact, and building.  This process allows the students to build their research, analysis, and summarization skills along with enhancing their speaking and collaboration skills.  

During the days before the filming field trip, the students got to work in their teams to play and practice with the technology needed to capture the 360º images for the tour.  We went over the basic operations of using the Theta S camera and how to use the iPad app to take the images so that they don't appear in the final product.  This is done not only for student privacy reasons, but also so the user gets a more authentic visual experience.  This allows the students the chance to make some mistakes and have some failure and success with the new technology before we get to the fort for the real photo shoot. 

Because time was limited to just over two hours for our second trip, we wanted to make sure we were efficient getting the footage that we needed.  The student teams used several different tools to make a map of their building and mark out their filming locations.  Some teams, like the one researching the Garden and outside grounds, used a screenshot of Google Maps as their base before putting the image Google Drawings to add in their filming locations.  Many teams used Google Drawings to sketch out the different rooms and artifact locations.  A couple of teams decided to build a 3D model of their building using SketchUp, while some drew theirs out by hand on graph paper.  Regardless of which medium and tools they used, they developed critical thinking skills alongside their collaboration and communication skills.

Stay tuned for more, including the photo shoot field trip and script narrations...

Thursday, March 10, 2016

#FVvr (Fort Vancouver Virtual Reality)

A couple of weeks ago my students, colleague, and I embarked on a new project at our S.T.E.M. and PBL based school, Vancouver iTech Preparatory.  FVvr (pronounced fever) is a project in which our Washington State History studnets work as historians, curators, and archaeologists to create a virtual reality tour of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.  This is an ambitious project that has been in the works for well over a year.

To make this project a [virtual] reality (pun intended), we had to work with the fort and the National Parks Service.  We meet several times trying to figure out what we might do.  And, while we have some ideas, the fun part is not knowing exactly how it will turn out.  We have a deadline, have had the curators and park rangers visit our school, and have had a scouting field trip already.

Right now students are selecting the artifacts that they want to research and collaborating in their teams to map out the building and other locations that they will need to photograph next week.  Some teams are emailing the park rangers and asking them questions in preparation, other are sending them pictures of items that they want to know more about.  It is amazing to watch the students step up and craft well written professional emails as they communicate with the rangers.  This is part of the PBL experience that I am passionate about.  I facilitate, but they are doing the work.  They are getting the experiences.

Next week, we head back to use our special Theta S cameras to take 360º photospheres throughout the park.  I can't wait to see how they deal with the sharing and utilization of the technology.  The goal is to provide our students with the experience of creating something not just for themselves, but for our community, and the world.  It is important to learn and explore our local history.  It'll be even more fun to share it beyond our borders.

Voices Not Forgotten

This past spring our students were studying several different themes throughout our school. To help students with their understanding of the...