The American Library Association’s digital-literacy task force defines digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” Digital literacy is an important skill that incorporates many Common Core Standards. As an Elementary Technology Teacher, I am always looking for ways to creatively incorporate content standards and digital literacy into my lessons. Immersive stories engage students in learning content and improve students skills in digital literacy, reading informational text, and writing. Creating virtual tours with ThingLink is an ideal medium for developing digital literacy skills and addressing Common Core reading and writing standards.
The specific digital literacy and communication standards I planned this unit to address were from Common Core and the ISTE standards for students:
Fourth graders study Colorado history in their social studies classes. As an extension of these studies, students in my technology classes will explore a ThingLink I created on Leadville (below) in order to understand how Leadville (and much of Colorado) has changed over time. This ThingLink also serves as a model for the projects students will create later in the unit. I have decided to use the Icons of Depth and Complexity as a tool to ask students to reflect as they explore the tour I created and to help students to identify important historical points as they create their own tours. This will help students go beyond surface level understanding and think more critically. As I created my ThingLink tour, I used a story map to help organize my thinking.
After exploring and discussing the Leadville ThingLink 360°, I plan to have students select a city or town in Colorado to research. They will research their selected city or town, evaluating many digital resources and integrating information from multiple sources in order to write about how their town has changed over time. Students will use primary source photos as the basis for their analysis of how their town has changed over time. Students will use the same story map template as they plan their ThingLink.
The research phase of this project addresses the following standards:
Specifically, students will be asked to examine primary source photos to infer details about various time periods. They will then be asked to sequence their photos to see trends and understand how their city or town had changed over time. I am excited to see how using these additional lenses helps students to think critically as they create their own ThingLink tour of a Colorado town.
To create their ThingLink, students will either use Google Street View to find images or take their own 360 photos of their town using the Ricoh Theta cameras we were able to purchase through grants from Donors Choose, CenturyLink and Innovative Education Colorado. After uploading their 360° image to ThingLink, students will create tags with primary source images of their town in different decades. With the recent update to ThingLink students are now able to record their own audio. Students will create audio narration to include in their virtual tours. Creating their own project addresses additional writing and speaking standards.
In addition to the Common Core reading, writing, and speaking standards, this project also addressed the Colorado State Standards for History and 21st Century Skills and Readiness.
As a teacher, I love tools that I can use to create interactive lessons for students and also allow students to create their own content. ThingLink is one of my favorite tools for this type of thinking. I’ve used ThingLink with third grade students as they explore Colorado habitats and life zones and with fifth grade as students study the human body. ThingLink is amazing for helping students to explore time and place as they develop reading, writing, and speaking skills needed by Common Core Standards.
Michelle Eckstein, Elementary Technology Teacher | Peak to Peak Charter School, Lafayette, Colorado
Michelle Eckstein is a ThingLink Certified Educator and Elementary Technology Teacher at Peak to Peak Charter Schoo, in Lafayette, Colorado. She has been in teaching elementary schools for over 10 years and has a Masters in Gifted Education from the University of Connecticut and endorsements in elementary education, gifted education, and instructional technology. Michelle loves seeing students authentically engaged when they are creating with technology.
You can connect with Michelle on:
We are excited to share that ThingLink and Nearpod have partnered to bring new experiences to language learning! Nearpod’s new lessons “Virtual Reality for English Learners” uses ThingLink’s technology to take students on interactive virtual tours to familiar environments in the community that engage and motivate students to learn. Nearpod’s goal is to “provide the most realistic medium in which language learning becomes meaningful and responsive”.
For example, the “At the Ice Cream Shop” lesson takes students to Lulu’s Ice Cream Shop in Florida. Students can explore the shop from both the customer’s and the shopkeeper’s perspective, and learn the key vocabulary to describe things they see. Icons created with ThingLink’s 360 photo editor indicate a point of interest that contains a closeup image, a written word, and audio feedback.
The lesson includes opportunities for students to get to know other cultures by exploring ice cream from around the world and share their own knowledge through a combination of formative assessments. Students also get to hear from Luisa, the owner of the ice cream shop and an English Learner herself. “Every lesson includes a story from an English Learner. We want students to see themselves in these success stories and know that the hard work they’re putting in is worth it!” shares Mari Lasnetski, Director for Nearpod EL.
To celebrate the partnership, ThingLink users can get a 15% discount on Nearpod’s Gold licenses using the promo code NP-THINGLINK. Similarly, Nearpod users can use the code VR4EL to get 15% off ThingLink’s Teacher Premium account!
Download the a free example lesson.
More information about Nearpod EL solution.
Create your own virtual language tours with ThingLink Teacher Premium.
To celebrate the Norwegian Constitution Day, we decided to send a special greeting to our dear Scandinavian neighbors who are almost as happy as the Finns. With love, we put together this virtual 360 degree tour to the stunningly beautiful land of fjords and fells. The tour starts from Laedal, goes through the longest road tunnel to Bergen, then takes a ferry to North, and ends up at a Constitution Day celebration party after a quick visit to Oslo.
Now, the only thing missing from this tour are the people! Do you have a story or memory from Norway? Here is what you can do:
a) Open the voice recorder on your phone and record an audio clip telling a special memory or story from Norway
b) Open the ThingLink editor, clone any image from this tour to your own account, and make your own version of the trip! Add audio clips, notes, music, photos, videos, or anything you like –and share it onwards!
If you don’t have a ThingLink account yet, check out our new Premium Teacher plan!
The challenges and opportunities for new technology integration at a large college or university are different than at an elementary school. Schools are bigger, shared facilities are crowded, students are quick to learn new technologies on their own, and research plays a bigger role. After my recent visit to Clemson University, I started putting together a list of use cases and applications for immersive learning for higher education. This list is work in progress, so feel free to email comments or additional suggestions!