Several speakers highlighted the growing share of AR and VR tools and apps that teachers have at their disposal for use in the classroom. Robert Kalman, Digital Design Teacher and Tech Integrator at Eric S. Smith Middle School in Ramsey, New Jersey, shared more about why he attended the conference to lead his session “Exploring Augmented Reality in EDU.”
“Over the last couple years, the advancements with the processors in phones and tablets have made AR and VR apps much more accessible. My presentation was kind of broken down into AR consumption and AR creation. The exciting thing is that students now cannot only consume AR and VR experiences, but they can make their own using a bunch of different tools, which is cool” he said.“ That can branch into a variety of projects that bring in different content areas.”
Regarding the role that technology is playing in education, Kalman emphasized that AR and VR are not slated to replace existing teaching methods. Rather, they enhance learning already happening in the classroom by providing context for instructional content and by increasing student engagement.
“EdtechTeacher really tries to focus on not just grasping for what’s the shiny new toy, but [being] more responsible and open-minded in terms of still doing what is pedagogically sound. So, AR and VR give the opportunity for students to experience different things, whether it’s digitally seeing it, or experimenting with it in a different sort of way,” Kalman said. “Definitely the powerful thing is the engagement. If students are engaged, they’ll be more motivated and interested and put forth higher effort and it will ultimately create valuable learning experiences.”
I was recently featured in an article by Scott Newcomb of The 74 titled “Make a Video Game Instead of Taking a Test? That’s One Way Teachers Use Bloxels.”
It gives a nice overview of my use of Bloxels as a design, pre-coding, and creative storytelling tool in my classroom. It further identifies some ways content-area teachers can use Bloxels, and any video game design tools for that matter, for project-based learning and alternative forms of assessment.
“The iteration process is so fast,” [Kalman] says. “You design a character on the board and scan it in, and immediately you are able to say, ‘Yeah, that is what I want,’ or find a problem with it or find a way to make it better. It promotes fast iteration and a growth mindset.”
Officially presenting this year at ISTE in San Antonio was a thrill!
Not only did I have the opportunity to demonstrate my innovative classroom practices, and share those pedagogies with colleagues, but I was also able to learn, explore and share.
Thank you to Nibletz for giving my poster session a shoutout: http://www.nibletz.com/events/iste/bloxels-will-9-year-old-tech-reporters-first-stop-iste-2017.
Thank you as well to all those who attended and shared on social media, and to the Pixel Press team for their support and partnership.
Today I was featured in feature article on NorthJersey.com (the web version of the The Record) showcasing our first day of school in Ramsey. While the article highlights some challenges and concerns that public schools across New Jersey are facing, it is rewarding that my classroom can serve as a bright spot.
I regularly express my gratitude for being able to teach a subject that I am passionate about, without having rigid standards and testing to hold back the innovation and creativity of the students. Additionally, this begins our journey in my newly redesigned classroom. It will be awesome to see the impact that this new learning space has on my students.
In Ramsey, some 85 miles north of Trenton, teachers were focused on balancing basics and state mandates with experiences for students designed to pique their curiosity and develop critical thinking skills.
While attending ISTE 2016 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, CO, I was interviewed by Richard Chang of THE Journal – a highly respected publication highlighting innovative educational technologies.
Robert Kalman, an ed tech teacher from Westwood, NJ, demonstrated a game and code-making product called Bloxels. He illustrated how children could create a digital world using tiny colored blocks, solve problems and tell a story.
You can read the full article from THE Journal here:
Playground and Poster Sessions Push Teaching Forward
I am an enthusiastic middle school computer technology teacher from northern New Jersey. I am married to a fellow computer tech teacher, and we have a beautiful daughter named Toby. After teaching all subjects in a fifth grade position for two years, constantly aiming for tech integration and exciting 21st century projects, I was lucky enough to transition to an ICT position in our 1:1 iPad middle school this past year.
In this role, I have the opportunity to work with each 6th, 7th, and 8th grade student for six weeks out of the school year. My goal as an edtech teacher is to expose students to relevant and innovative technologies, while also creating authentic projects through Problem-Based learning, Coding, and Design Thinking. I place emphasis on CREATION: we don’t simply play games, we make games. Each student leaves my class having made several impressive, technology-based artifacts with their iPads and computers.
Each day, I try to create a culture of innovation in my classroom by fostering a student-centered culture and encouraging students to “fail forward” with a growth mindset. I also attempt to tear down the walls of my classroom by having all students create websites to house their work, sharing them with the world, in addition to using our class Twitter account to connect with other classrooms, students, and educators.
I mirror this mindset professionally, as I’m very active on Twitter myself – constantly discovering and sharing new ideas with my Professional Learning Network online, and at workshops and conferences.
Based on my educational philosophy, Pixel Press is the perfect place to be an Educator in Residence. I first learned about the organization through Twitter. After initially reading “draw your own video game,” I decided that I had to give Pixel Press Floors a shot. I loved it. More importantly, my students loved it. I found the creativity, coding connection, design process, supportive educational materials, and the innovative technology to be amazing for my students.
Once I heard about the release of Bloxels, I connected with Robin Rath, CEO & Co-Founder, and suggested that I could help spread the word about this awesome game design and coding tool. Not only are Pixel Press’ inventions fun, cool, exciting, relevant, authentic, and challenging, but they also give students a unique voice that they aren’t often provided in school. I’m thrilled to be helping Pixel Press help educators put Bloxels into students’ hands.
Please connect with me on Twitter @robert_kalman, or shoot me an email at robertkalman (at) gmail (dot) com.
– Robert Kalman