• April Update

    Posted by JESSIE CREECH on 4/11/2016

    One of my goals for next year is to have the students use the Virtual World more than I do. I want the students to "drive." I have decided to take the leap and let my seniors take the lead. 

    I am assigning my Spanish V class a project where they plan a trip to a Spanish speaking country and then give us a tour of the natural and historic attractions of the country and one major city. 

    I am assigning the project Thursday of this week, so stay tuned! 

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  • February/March Update

    Posted by JESSIE CREECH on 3/12/2016 12:00:00 PM

    When I first had the idea for this project, I wanted the images to promote engagement by setting the stage for learning. It has done that and so much more!

    Naturally, I have ideas for how I want to improve its functionality as an everyday classroom tool. One idea is to use a Mobi with it, since it has become my main teaching surface. Another low tech solution would be to panel my current cement walls with dry erase board (aka white panelboard available at Lowe's) to create a writeable surface. I explored the possibility of dry erase paint, but the expense and the fact that my walls are not smooth have discouraged me from pursuing that option. 

    All in all, the system continues to work well with minor blips for which I will do a request in ITDirect. For example, I can view Google slides in presentation mode and project the presentation onto the walls, but Powerpoint will only show on the monitors on my desk. The only way to view Powerpoint right now is to not to view it as a Slideshow. 

    The highlight of the past few weeks would have to be Movie Night. My AP students and I came to school on a Sunday and watched Motorcycle Diaries together. (I wish I had taken a picture!) We also used the system to follow the main character's journey through South America, and have taken other "trips" connected to the curriculum. 

    Hard to believe, but planning for next year has begun! My mind has started turning to my next instructional goal with the Virtual Room. So far, all the lessons have relied on me to provide the images and tours; I have been the driver, so to speak. My goal for next year is to plan at least two lessons each semester where students are in control. I think it would enhance use of the system and provide students another route to engagement with the material. 

    There is still a lot to explore!


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  • January progress

    Posted by JESSIE CREECH on 2/5/2016

    January has been a fantastic month in the Virtual Room. The system is working well, and we are able to use it when we need it without any difficulty. 

    A high point in the month came when we hosted visitors from Costa Rica. A group of educators from Costa Rica, part of a teacher exchange program through Auburn University, visited our school and met with different groups of students. Spanish V and AP students participated in a question and answer session with the Costa Ricans on different aspects of their country. Some students asked about interesting places in Costa Rica. While the teachers spoke, we traveled to different points in the country. At one point, students were having trouble understanding what they were saying because they were describing "The Tail of the Whale," a place where when the tide receeds, you can walk out into the ocean on a strip of land resembling the tail of a whale. Trouble understanding what they are describing solved: Go there and see it!

    Seeing the students react with understanding was what this project is all about. 

    Cola de la Ballena

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  • Up and running again!

    Posted by JESSIE CREECH on 12/17/2015 11:00:00 AM

    “If you get up one more time than you fall you will make it through.”

    October and November were difficult months for this project. The virtual reality software installed on the computer would not load and/or had trouble recognizing the different projectors. A lot of troubleshooting took place, but in the end, the problems persisted. Time and time again, the image projected on the wall was skewed and the virtual software failed to pick up all four projectors. Despite these issues I continued to use the system as best I could, and once I got used to it, I was able to use the projectors in basic ways. though the lesson plans that I had envisioned using at the start were not possible. 

    The good news is 2016 looks promising! For the past week, Donna's team has been working on installing new projectors and a computer, and it looks like their hard work will pay off. This time, the system will not need special software to project on all three walls, which eliminates the virtual reality software problem. (As an aside, it seems to me that not using specialized software enhances the scalability of the project.) Thank you, Tech Department!

    So looking forward to 2016:

    On the first day back to school, I plan on filling the wall with images of beaches in Mexico as we begin a story about an Aztec god of water. I can hear the waves...


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  • September Update

    Posted by JESSIE CREECH on 9/30/2015

    Virtual Reality in action

    The first month in the Virtual Reality world has been a challenge, though the rewards have overwhelmingly surpassed the obstacles. 

    Most of the obstacles have centered around the technology itself. The first challenge was that the fourth projector was not being detected by the computer, and this threw the configuration software off. Thanks to Sonya and Joani, we were able to determine that the adaptor going into the computer was not working. Jacob came on September 14 to recongigure the software to work from a display port, and this helped eliminate the problem. The Virtual Room worked beautifully after that for about a week and a half. Currently, the software does not appear to be loading properly, so when the computer comes up, the images are not corrected and display with a keystone effect.

    Now for the rewards: I have been able to take my students on virtual field trips when the system has worked. We have visited several points around Spain in particular. One of the most powerful moments in the past month came when we were talking about immigration in Spain and were able to "stand" on the shores of Tarifa, Spain, and see Africa. I think every student in the room was affected by experiencing the proximity as opposed to reading about it, or viewing the distance on a map. Moments like this is what I envisioned from the beginning of this project, and make it all worthwhile. 

    I have several ideas for lesson plans that include using the virtual space. I look forward to continuing to use it as my teaching space once we resolve the pesky problems I have made up my mind are associated with innovation. As in so many things, the tired phrase "no pain, no gain" applies.

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  • Summer Progress Report

    Posted by JESSIE CREECH on 8/18/2015
    The summer began with an exciting meeting at the Board where we skyped with Ohio University about the set up and possible other uses for the virtual room (recap of meeting posted elsewhere on the IforI blog). 
    Room 313 was cleaned and painted in preparation for the installation of the projectors and computer, and finally the day came. Chris and Jason from Metis worked all week getting everything set up and in working order. 
    On Friday, August 14, we had our first public viewing. Amanda, Donna, Dicky, Joani, and teachers from all over the building came to watch the demonstration. Although one of the four projectors is missing (ETA next week), the room is very impressive! We went to the Eiffel Tower in France, to the White House, and even to Mountain Brook High School.  We attempted to do a virtual tour of the Louvre Museum in Paris, but got stuck in the basement!
    After all the excitement, two things are obvious:
    1. Teachers are excited! They see possibilities and applications to their course matter that we have not even begun to explore.
    2. As exciting as it all is, this Virtual World will demand a learning curve, both in the technical and the curriculum aspects. It was easy to get lost, easy to get stuck in a room, etc. We will need to be intentional and focused in accepting the challenge and for this tool to be not only engaging, but also effective. 
    Did I mention how much fun it is?! 
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  • Possible Lessons

    Posted by JESSIE CREECH on 4/23/2015
    Possible lessons:
    After visiting multiple cities and getting lost in downtown Buenos Aires in Google Earth, I decided to start out by visiting an area I know reasonably well, so that I would have an easier time finding my way around. I ended up on la Calle Ocho in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood. This seemed to work better because I recognized landmarks such as restaurants from having visited there many times.
    I also was reminded that Google Earth has virtual "tours" available which have been uploaded by users. These tours may prove helpful to familiarize myself with the area before exploring on my own.
    Lesson learned: As with everything in the classroom, preparation will be essential before presenting and/working with students.  
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  • First Meeting on 4/7/15

    Posted by JESSIE CREECH on 4/13/2015

    The computers and projectors for our project have been ordered. Donna anticipates setting it up at the board and working out hardware kinks over there before moving it here. At some point over the next month, she will call me down to run a lesson through the setup to make sure everything works the way we want it to. I am sure she will be talking to you about location, etc.


    Donna will set up a space on our website for me to keep a private blog of the progress for documentation purposes. For the first phase of the project, I will be working closely with Donna.  Once the hardware is in the building and running, the focus will switch to instruction, and I will be working with Missy.


    My job at the moment is to prepare a lesson for when it is ready, so I have something to run through when the equipment is set up. 

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  • Possible Spaces

    Posted by JESSIE CREECH on 4/13/2015
    All possible spaces will need to be fitted for the Virtual Lab (e.g., cabinets removed, walls finished/painted, etc.)
    Possible spaces around the building:
    1. Library space in the Teacher Resource Room.  
    2. Room in 300 Hall (Coach Honeycutt's current room)
    3. Unused worksroom?
    Ideas: Could walls be dry erase (shower stall material available at hardware store)?  
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  • Introduction

    Posted by Donna Williamson on 4/12/2015

    Virtual Learning Space--Welcome to a Whole New World

    Submitted by:  Jessie Creech (MBHS)
    What if we could create an immersive environment for students to enrich their learning experience? What if when they step into the classroom, they could enter another country?  We cannot take students on weekly field trips around the world, but we can provide them an alternative. With projectors, Google Earth and motion controls, we can bring the world to our students by immersing them in a virtual world.
    Virtual World  
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