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This semester I have spent a lot of time thinking critically about how my school (Cherry Creek Academy) can better utilize our new zSpace lab. During my research class I have been given the opportunity to conduct research around Virtual Realities in education. This research has helped me to come up with an action plan for my staff.

In order to enact change with our zSpace I need to present information to staff. I have spent time connecting each grade levels standards to zSpace lesson plans. zSpace offers a vast lesson library that makes connections to grade level standards for each state. I am beyond excited to share this with my staff.

I have begun developing a Google Site that will allow staff members to share the zSpace lessons they have completed with their students. This will allow future staff members to utilize the space and connect it to the topics they are teaching.

I think this change I am making is powerful and will help improve our zSpace lab usage!

My school, Cherry Creek Academy, has recently invested over $48,000 into creating a ZSpace Lab. ZSpace is a computer lab that allows students to engage in both Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) experiences. ZSpace offers hundreds of activities that are aligned to content standards. This space is awesome but it sits empty most of the school day.

As a part of my research class, I chose to analyze our ZSpace lab. It saddens me to see that it sits empty so much of the time. I wanted to figure out why! I started out by giving my staff a Google Survey. Only 16 out of 66 staff members took the survey.

The first question helped me to determine what percentage of our staff had used the lab. As of now, only 25% of our staff has taken their students into the lab.

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I then needed to know why staff was not utilizing the lab. The next response allowed me to understand the why. Based on the results below, most teachers feel that they do not have enough time to use the lab. As a past classroom teacher, I can certainly understand this.

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In order to help teachers to utilize the lab more often I want to help them understand the value in using ZSpace.

I hope to create an interactive presentation for our staff. The presentation will include the following things

  • Data showing how ZSpace and Virtual Reality experiences increase student engagement and academic outcomes
  • Highlight content and standard connects ( saving teachers time with teaching)
  • Show examples of how other schools are using their lab

I hope to enact change within my school so that this valuable lab gets used!

late night grading session

A part of my transition from classroom teacher to specials teacher I wasn’t expecting as the grading! In a lot of ways I am finding that being a specials teachers takes away a lot of the pressures of teaching. I am not expected to test their reading level monthly or track their math fact progress. This quarter I have been loving having flexibility to create my own curriculum.

I assigned each grade level I teach (2nd-7th) one big project this quarter. I spent a lot of time planning and prepping. I created examples and rubrics for each grade. The past 3 weeks have been filled with project work time in all of my classes. It sounded great until I realized that I would have all grade levels turning in their projects within the same 2 weeks! AHHHHHHH!

So it’s the end of quarter 1 and I find myself grading over 400 student projects. I refuse to give out participation and effort grades only. I believe students should receive feedback and know that the work we do matters. I like to reward hard-workers and help guide those who may need more practice on certain skills learned.

I am hoping to plan out quarter 2 better so that I don’t end up with so much time consuming grading again!

I will be spending the next week grading, grading, grading! Is it fall break yet?

Moving forward , I will make sure to plan out my units differently so that not all grade levels have projects due around the same time. Perhaps I shall consider younger grades having projects due the first half of the quarter and older graders having a later due date. This would ensure that I won’t have everything all at once to grade!

Being new to my school I knew I needed an interactive and fun way to get to know my students. I was shocked to learn that my second and third grade students had not been exposed to Google Slideshows before. I knew I had to incorporate getting to know them into using Google Slideshows.

I decided to create a simple slide template and call their first project All About Me! I had my students complete a slideshow template that would allow me to learn more about them!

I taught them the following skills within Google Slides

  • Inserting a text box into each slide
  • The command (on a Mac) for making bullet points
  • Clicking and dragging pictures from a search site into their slideshow
  • Taking a “selfie” picture using the PhotoBooth app
  • Inserting pictures as a background on a slide
  • Changing the colors of fonts and backgrounds
  • Adding transitions to each slide
  • Presenting the slideshow in presentation mode.

Students spent 4 weeks making their slideshows. They had so much fun and most of them chose to extend their beyond school to their homes. At the end of our project we invited parents in to see our hard work and present their shows.

My 4th grade students published their first technology project today! I wanted to introduce them to technology class with a quick, easy, and fun project.

Each student was tasked with creating a Google Doc brainstorm sheet. Students had to come up with 15 adjectives that described themselves. After completing the brainstorm students imported their lists to an online wordle creator.

They had a blast playing with the shapes, fonts, and colors! I then taught them how to take a screen shot of their creation and email it to me!

It was so fun seeing how excited they were to produce something online! It is a nice reminder that sometimes a simple project is the best!