Friday, 12 June 2015 12:10

Fitzhugh Teacher Integrates iPad Apps to Engage Students

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Fitzhugh Park School fifth-grade students in Mr. Nicholas Little’s classroom use their iPads and an Aurasma app to view other students’ digital book reports. Fitzhugh Park School fifth-grade students in Mr. Nicholas Little’s classroom use their iPads and an Aurasma app to view other students’ digital book reports. Submitted photo

Nicholas Little, a first-year teacher at Fitzhugh Park Elementary School in Oswego, has engaged his fifth grade students throughout the school year to better understand and utilize technology for educational purposes.

"My students have high exposure to technological tools that are used at home for the sole purpose of video games, texting, etc. If students could see how these could be used as academic gateways to a higher education, the possibilities are endless," said Little. "I feel people need to see the positive side of technology."

Over the course of the year, Little has been doing exactly that. His goal has been to drive students' understanding, confidence, and engagement with the use of modern technology devices, such as iPads, in the classroom. With the help of donations from the community, Little has been able to provide students with access to classroom iPads.

He expressed that by utilizing iPads, he and his students have the ability to reflect on concepts and assess individual understanding instantaneously. With the app called ShowMe, students are able to record their work on the iPad, share their findings with another student, and then review and critique their methods. Little has found that the independence of completing the work, along with the final collaboration with other students clarifies concepts, encourages personal reflection, and strengthens students' confidence in the material, a component that he feels is key to student success.

Most recently, Little has implemented a new app with the classroom iPads, called Aurasma. The app was first introduced to Little by Peri Nelson, Oswego City School District's Technology Integration Specialist. Aurasma is a free mobile app that specializes in augmented reality, which is the layering of digital info on top of the physical world on a phone or tablet. With the app, one can take a physical image, add an overlay which could be another image, video, or model, which then brings the physical image to life. Tutorials and videos of Aurasma can be found on YouTube.

In the world of business, Aurasma is being used for numerous purposes including advertising, publications, product displays, events, apparel, questionnaires, and more. With this being said, students are learning about technology and practicing tools that will benefit them in their futures, as well.

With the assistance of FPS Library Media Specialist, Serena Waldron, Little developed the idea of assigning his students the task of completing a summary book report using the app. Furthermore, with the help of fifth grade team members Kaite Canale and Holly Allen, and the fifth grade reading and writing specialist, Chris Haessig, the plan was put into action.

Each student completed a physical written book report with illustrations, which were then posted along the halls of Fitzhugh Park Elementary. Next, with an iPad, students were filmed presenting their individual project. With Aurasma, students can grab an iPad, aim the screen at a book report on the wall, and the video of the student presenting the report will pop up. This can be done with each and every book report. Students were instructed not to give away the ending of their chosen book, in hopes to entice other students to check out the book in library.

With parental consent, Little and several of his students created a YouTube video to further display how the app works and how it was used for the book report projects. Check it out at Students' pride in their creations and how they came to life using Aurasma was evident in their smiles and excitement, according to Little. This integration of technology into the coursework generated excitement and passion among students, as well as established important written and presentation skills, all while exposing students to new technology advances.

In addition to Aurasma, an app called Elements 4D also creates augmented reality. With Elements 4D, students learn about the elements in a compelling, fun way. Students scan the blocks to observe firsthand whether or not the element is a solid, liquid, or gas. According to Little, it was a huge success and he plans to do this lesson again in the future.

"I am such a strong supporter of the theory of a student's 'state of mind'. Meaning, if they believe they can accomplish a challenge, it can be done. Because of these tools, students are gaining that mind-set and are showing such great academic strides!" said Little.

Little's integration of technology in the classroom engages students, promotes empowerment and confidence, and encourages a fun and exciting way to learn. Little has made leaps and bounds in making education exciting for students. "These students have raised the bar for education and are truly representing Fitzhugh Park and our district," said Little.

Check out what else Nick Little's fifth grade class has accomplished this year and what they plan to do next for the Fitzhugh Park community and the Oswego City School District at

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