Washington Middle School Students Love Using Virtual Reality Goggles
“Oh my gosh! Mrs. Joly, I see a panda! It’s a big one! It’s so cute!” said a Washington Middle School student in Sara Joly’s class while looking through virtual reality (VR) goggles.
“You do! How exciting! What continent are pandas found on?” asked Mrs. Joly.
Joly’s special needs students were using the district’s VR goggles to learn more about animals on the seven continents they are studying in class. The VR goggles make it feel like the animals are right next to them – giving an up-close, interactive experience to the lesson.
“My students respond so much better when I offer multiple sensory options to learn,” Joly said. “Maps, time, distance and geography are a very difficult and abstract concept to students who don’t have the opportunity to travel. The VR goggles give them a very real and visceral immersion into different places around the world. By using the VR goggles, students get excited to dig deeper into investigating places and animals. When they get a chance to get up close and personal with the animals it engages them to want to learn more about them. Some of my students have never been to the zoo. This is a fun and exciting way for them to really get close to the animals.”
The class continued the project by researching the animals and places they “visited” through the VR glasses. The students added animals to appropriate locations on a map and wrote up details regarding the animals based on the VR experience and research.
The students had help learning how to use the VR goggles from Jason Kathman and Jeff Kresge, district technology integration specialists. Kathman also created a Keynote for students to answer questions. Most of the students used voice-to-text to write their answers, then learned how to drag photos of the animals that they met onto the correct continent.
“This was not only a great science project but also a great project for gaining new digital skills on the iPad,” Kathman said. “By the end of the short project, students were using speech to text, copying and pasting images, downloading images, adding images to programs like Keynote. There are things that they will be asked to do for the rest of their educational career.”
The VR goggles will be used in classrooms throughout the district.