We Asked 3 Teachers To Try Augmented Reality Apps, and They’re Totally Hooked

Virtual paleontology, Career Day, and more!

Sponsored By Verizon
Collage of students using augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) is arguably the next big thing in education. The rich digital content provided by AR makes learning engaging, authentic, and relevant to students. Working in simulations gives students access to people, places, and concepts they might not otherwise have and results in the kind of learning that sticks. We asked three middle school teachers to get in on the trend. Each teacher selected a lesson from Verizon Innovative Learning HQ to try in their classrooms. Read on for their stories (and find out how you can bring AR to your class this year!).

Digging up dinosaurs in augmented reality

Collage of students using augmented reality paleontology app

At first, I was hesitant to use AR in my classroom because I thought it might be difficult for my students with diverse learning needs. However, after using it, I realized that it actually had the opposite effect. For instance, in my sixth grade class, students were able to dig up dinosaur fossils in the Verizon Innovative Learning Lab: Paleontology app.

“The immersive approach allowed my students to visualize complex concepts, bringing the dinosaurs to life and making them more understandable and memorable. The app offered visual and interactive support, making educational content more accessible and engaging for students with different learning styles or abilities. 

“In order to set my students up for success, I first modeled how to sign into the app. Then, I explained the task that would be completed on the app (to dig up various fossils and recreate a triceratops in augmented reality) and answered any initial questions they had. I was sure to set clear expectations and guidelines before having my students begin, which helped them to be successful when using the app. 

“The Verizon Innovative Learning Lab: Paleontology app encouraged collaboration and interactive learning. My students worked together in groups, solving problems and completing tasks using the app while I acted as a facilitator. This collaborative aspect promoted teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills, which are essential for their future academic and professional endeavors. 

“This app is a game-changer in the classroom, transforming traditional lessons into interactive and dynamic encounters. It can transform the learning experience, making it more interactive, memorable, and enjoyable for students, ultimately fostering a love for learning and helping to pave the way for their success in the digital age.”

—Kelsey Hess, 6th grade teacher

Hosting a virtual Career Day

Collage of students using augmented reality Career Day app

“‘This is fun!’ ‘These people are friendly!’ ‘I want to look into this.’ ‘Did you know Frank Abney worked on Frozen?!’ These were just some of the reactions of my students to the Career Day app. Using only an iPhone or iPad, my students learned about new potential paths to their future. Through the lessons, my students were able to assess personality, determine career interests, and interview accomplished professionals via augmented reality.

“One of our ‘guests,’ Frank Abney, spoke of overcoming struggles in life or technical limitations at work. His advice inspires kids to ‘be honest, tell your truth, and connect.’ Another guest, Arleny Valle, a mechanical engineer, talked about emigrating to New York, which was relatable to my kids. She also asked how old students were and adjusted her responses; she connected by asking about their favorite subject in middle school. Being able to interview these virtual role models without the pressure of real-time interaction builds confidence. This is like ‘choose your own adventure’ with amazing holographic role models. In fact, students were so excited about the app, they logged in at home to share with their families.

“This is the most engaging career program I ever experienced. Students felt seen by virtual mentors, who brought creativity and technology into various fields while providing inspiring advice based on their personal stories. This unique experience allowed students to see that they have abilities for professions they originally imagined were beyond their reach.”

—Cheryl Rizzo, middle school teacher

Turning poetry into slick beats

Lesson on creating collaborative beats on projector

“We started our poetry unit with the longtime favorite ‘Where I’m From’ by George Ella Lyons. Then we asked the kids to write their own poetry biographies. All normal middle school ELA stuff. But we wanted to go further. Taylor Swift was going to be in Detroit in just a week. Some of our students had tickets. Many of them didn’t. So we decided to take them to a virtual concert. 

“When they came back to class from the virtual concert, we talked about how the performance of the music is a story. We talked about the layers of story—words, music, costumes, lighting, etc. Using the GRX Arts, Beats and Tech app, we officially hooked our students. They were mixing slick beats to enhance their poetry and to tell their story. They didn’t want to leave class.

“We invited John Agyepong, the creative director of GRX Immersive, into our class via videoconference. He graciously accepted. Agyepong told us his musical journey that led him to creating this incredible collaborative music app. He answered questions about creating music and using technology to bring music into the classroom.

“Then we finished the unit with a rap battle. We had several concerned colleagues knock on the door to make sure that we were OK. When they saw us all swaying to the students’ original hits, they laughed. What a way to end the year!”

—Steffy McCourt, 7th grade teacher

Want to try augmented reality with your students? Grab these free lessons and apps, and check out all the STEM lessons and apps available to you, at Verizon Innovative Learning HQ.

We asked three middle school teachers to try augmented reality in their classrooms, and they (and their students) are sold.