Using Augmented Reality to Enhance Vocabulary Instruction Part One

Over the school holidays I have been playing around with an app called Aurasma, in the hope of creating an activity for reading groups to enhance our vocabulary studies. We already do a number of activities with iPads that enhance explicit vocabulary instruction, but this is going to be different. I think this activity is going to blow the kids away, and I’m so looking forward to seeing their faces when they use it for the first time.

I recently bought a puppet to enhance the delivery of vocabulary lessons. The students teach the puppet our “Fancy Words”, demonstrating the action associated with the word and explaining its meaning. The puppet, known as “Snazzy Jazzy”, copies the actions and “learns” from the children. They just love her. Their obsession has reached the stage that when our vocab lessons are over there is a collective “Awww!” And each child has to get a hug from Snazzy Jazzy before she can leave. So in developing this activity I knew that I had to use the puppet as the overlay that would appear when the iPad is hovered over the activity card. I knew I wanted her to speak to the children, instructing them on what to do to complete each vocabulary task.

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Snazzy Jazzy

To begin with, I recorded ten different instructional videos on the iPad using the puppet. Next I needed to make the cards. I wanted them to look similar, but they needed to be different enough so that the app would be able to distinguish between cards and play the correct video. This required a fair amount of trial and error. Through this experimentation I can give the following advice. Do not use the same image on each card, even if other elements of the card are different. This still makes them too similar. Dashed line borders add a good amount of detail to the cards that the app likes, along with the different number and coloured background. For some reason the app doesn’t respond well to a dotted border and the video overlay jumps around a lot when hovered over it. After I figured this out, it was as simple as associating each video overlay with a different activity card in Aurasma.

Snazzy Jazzy's Fancy Word Work Activities

Snazzy Jazzy’s Fancy Word Work Activities

This week I will teach the children how to use Aurasma and then implement the activity in reading groups. I can’t wait see their reactions. That’s what makes teaching worthwhile, after all.

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