Monday, April 15, 2019

Exploring the Respiratory System with Augmented/Virtual Reality & More in Seventh Grade Science

Students in Kaylene Boos’ seventh grade life science class at Minnetonka Middle School West are studying about the respiratory system. In the past the lesson involved a lot of lecture and note taking. Naturally students didn’t find this past method of content delivery very interesting. Teachers are always improving their instruction, and over the past few years, middle school science teachers have restructured the learning activities to be more engaging for the students. On Monday afternoon when I was present, students were rotating among eight different stations for five minutes each, very engaged in activities.

At one of the stations students used the Virtuali-tee app. This augmented reality app allows students to scan a special T-shirt with their iPad and see the body systems inside the torso of the person/shirt, including the respiratory system. Funds from the PTO were granted to purchase the shirts for each seventh grade science teacher. As pictured, students could hold their iPad like a window into the respiratory system. As they moved it around, they were able to see inside a lung. Augmented and virtual reality show a lot of promise in the opportunities that will be available for learning, and activities this seem to just be the start of what’s possible. 

At another station students watched a video about the respiratory system and answered questions, recording their answers in Notability. At a third station, students completed an online labeling activity in which they had to race to beat the clock identifying the parts of the respiratory system. Another station consisted of sorting vocabulary terms and then photographing and inserting the image of the result into the Notability file. Students also researched answers to questions online and took a Schoology quiz at two other stations and the last station had a model of a working lung made out of a 2 liter pop bottle.

These activities cover multiple dimensions on our Minnetonka Teaching & Learning Framework: communication, collaboration, personalized learning, critical thinking, use of technology for learning, and more. Switching stations every five minutes kept the students active and moving around. They also worked on each activity in shorts bursts, so I did not see them losing interest or becoming bored with the learning. I certainly would have preferred to learn in this manner myself back in school. Plus when I was teaching, I should have designed more active learning opportunities like this for my own students!

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