Saturday, September 03, 2016

Using Pokemon Go in the classroom

This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in August 2016 and is re-posted here with permission.

How can you utilize the game "Pokemon Go" in your classroom in a meaningful way? Student excitement about this game can be easily harnessed to support all kinds of fun and pedagogically-sound lessons and activities!

Before we start, and if you have not yet played the game, there are some vocabulary words you might need.


Screenshot from game
Screenshot from game
Pokemon Go: an augmented reality, GPS-based, mobile device game which uses real-world locations to gather virtual items

Pokemon: the characters in the game you seek to capture and use for other purposes

Pokeball: the item you need to capture Pokemon

Pokestop: Place you locate in the game and visit to gather Pokeballs

Pokedex: An incomplete encyclopedia given to you in the game that is populated with details of the Pokémon as you capture them

Gym: a specific place in the game where you can have your Pokemon battle for control

Journal: a time-based list of your activity in the game

Pokemon trivia: Pokemon is short for "Pocket Monsters"

APA style guide for "Pokemon Go" information.

I doubt if there are many Pokestops or Pokemon in or around your school. And I'm not suggesting playing the game in your classroom. However, after playing it myself for the past few days, I've had some thoughts on how to use the game to expand the learning and target some of the literacies we want students to attain.

Some of the following activities require students to take some extra time and gather information as they're actually playing the game. Others they can complete after they're done for the day.


Many of the Pokestops in the game showcase a local business, attraction or historical site. Since students  already have their phone in their hands, have them use the Google Street View app to take a 360° spherical panoramic image of the Pokestop. Having these images to share with others will both promote community pride as well as allow immersion in the Pokestop via a Google Cardboard Viewer or via the Ricoh Theta S app. By taking the time to create and share the 360° images, students will become familiar with some of the cool sites in their community.

Here is a sample of a 360° image taken at a site of a Pokestop. Click and drag your mouse around the image to view it. (Direct link)

As you or students create 360° images, please consider Creative Commons-licensing them for use by others, joining my Flickr group called 360° Images for Schools and uploading them!


Augmented reality
Augmented reality
One of the neat features of the "Pokemon Go" game is, when students find a Pokemon in the wild, they can turn on an augmented reality version of their mobile device screen which puts the virtual Pokemon into the live scene where their camera is facing.

Students can then take a screenshot of the image. By saving the screenshots to their camera roll, students will have access to them later to use in other classroom projects, such as creating a digital story about their adventures.

Don't forget- students will need access to tools for planning, preparing, and producing their digital story. Ideas and successful practices for creating digital stories can be found on my digital storytelling site.

Easy digital storytelling creation tools


Journal screenshot
The Journal component of the game automatically records the time and date of the events as they occur -- whether it be collecting Pokeballs or capturing a Pokemon. Students can use the data to figure out the average number of events per day or to graph their allocation of items from a Pokestop. 

Using data they have collected and analyzing it will help students start to become familiar with the data literacy skills of data processing, data manipulation, data presentation, and data analysis. A great rubric for data literacy analysis by Andrew Churches can be found here.

Data entered in spreadsheet
Data entered in spreadsheet

Another treasure trove of data can be found in the Pokedex. Each Pokemon that is captured includes an information card, including height and weight (in metric). This data can be analyzed and manipulated for any number of measurement activities. (i.e. How many of which Pokemon would you need to stretch all the way across the US? What would be the total weight of all of them?) In addition, students could use Airtable (iOS app) to create their own relational database of their "Pokemon Go" data and become familiar with some of the features of a database (i.e. tagging, searching, sorting, etc.)

Info card from Pokedex



Encourage students to either gather the GPS points of their finds as they play the game or have them collect that info when they are done for the day. One site that makes this easy is Students can search for a location on Google Maps from this site and then copy the GPS coordinates that show up.
Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 8.06.12 PM

Once students have this GPS data, have them locate the GPS point in Google Earth, add the screenshots for the Poketops or areas they visited in the game, and have them create a "Google Pokemon Go Trip". Students quickly become aware they are actually using real-life places in the game and can share their journeys with others. To learn how to start this process, instructions for the Google Lit Trips project will help you out!


Use the data compiled from the "Pokemon Go" Journal and any additional information students collect (for instance, the number of steps they take in any one day) to have students create an infographic using one of the online tools or mobile apps. I have lists of these apps and tools both on my Guide to Everything Infographics page as well as in a previous Discovery Education Kathy's Katch blog post.

Infographics should have an eye-catching image at the top with the most important data and then include secondary and tertiary data for those want to know more. Shaelynn Farnsworth provides some solid tips about teaching the basics of infographics to students here.

Inverted triangle
Inverted triangle

I used Canva to create a health-related infographic based on the number of steps I have taken while playing the game.




Have students write a short piece about their personal reflection of the game. How long did it take them to learn how to play "Pokemon Go"? Have they joined any groups of people searching for rewards? What do they like best about playing? Least?

Have students exchange their writings or share a Google doc with another student. Each student should create a sketchnote from the writings of the other. Provide students with the basics of sketchnoting before you begin this project (i.e. text connectors, containers, shading, color, format) and then have them share the completed sketchnote with the author of the original piece. This can help students both practice visual notetaking, as well as learn how to pull out the most important points from a piece of writing. 

My sample is below. I sketchnoted this from a short piece that appeared on the CNET Web site.



Once students have reflected on their sketchnotes and reworked their essay on the topic, have each student create a short podcast about their experience with "Pokemon Go". Embed these podcasts in your class website and parents can enjoy the excitement that will definitely come through as each student reflects on their time with the game!
Podcasting tools

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Creating a 360° image with a cell phone

I have been experimenting with different phones and apps for creating a 360° spherical panoramic image. Below are my recommendations. In addition, once your students or you create a 360° image, please ask to join my Flickr group, 360 Images for Schools, Creative Commons-license your image so others can use it, and upload the image to the Flickr group.


360 Panorama app for iOS
I have found the $1.99 360Panorama app works the best for the iOS devices. If you take your time, and make sure to move your feet carefully as you take the images you need to take, the resulting spherical panoramic image will work great with a Google Cardboard viewer or online at ThinglinkVR,, or Facebook. You may have to resize the image to a 2:1 resolution (i.e. 1000 pixels by 500 pixels) via an image-editing app for some hosting sites. In your image-editing app, just pick to not constrain the current resolution before resizing.

You can also use the Google Street View app on iOS and save the resulting spherical panoramic image to the iOS Camera Roll. You don’t have to put it up on a Google Map.


 Of course, Google Street View is a good option on the Android phones, too. Again, you can decide to save it to the Gallery on the phone and not share it on Google Maps.

The Nexus phone came out with a camera app (Google Camera) that included a spherical panoramic image as a built-in option right in the camera app itself.

Choices for the use of the Google Camera

It is possible to install this camera app on an older Android phone with at least the v.4 operating system and it will not replace the existing camera…just add an additional one. And it does not require rooting your phone!

The instructions can be found on this page, the video or on this page. (Do this at your own risk! However, it worked perfectly for me on both an HTC One with Android 4.4.2 and a Samsung Galaxy 5 with a newer operating system.)

Remember, if your Android phone does not have an accelerometer and gyroscope, it cannot create a photosphere. The less-expensive Android phones do not usually have these built-in hardware features, and you should check your cell phone manufacturer's full specifications to determine whether it does.

Don’t forget to share your 360° images with other educators and students via the 360 Images for Schools Flickr group! And, take the time to look at the resources on my AR/VR Web page.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Online tools and the HP Pavilion x360 Convertible Touchscreen

I was provided with a HP Pavilion x360 Convertible Touchscreen laptop to put through its paces and review. I have decided to consider its use as a student- or school-owned notebook in a 1:1 environment in a middle or high school. 

Gold color of laptop
I am a huge fan of the 13.3" form factor in a laptop, as this HP Pavilion x360 Convertible sports. With its 1920x1080 pixel resolution and the bright screen, it has enough screen real estate to work smartly with multiple windows open. The screen is also a touchscreen, which adds to the ease of use in notebook mode. And, with its beautiful gold color, it will definitely stand out in a crowd!

I really love the convertible feature of the HP Pavilion x360 Convertible! The screen folds all the way back and becomes a Windows tablet! Windows 10 now includes an option to "turn on tablet" mode when the screen is folded back, so everything works great with a finger or stylus.

In addition to folding all the way back on itself to to become a tablet, the 360° hinge allows others ways to use the HP Pavilion x360 Convertible -- for viewing and playing. It can easily be set-up in "viewing" (stand) mode and the screen can be shared with others while viewing online content, or the student can put it in "playing" (tent) mode to use touch to navigate through online games or interactive Web sites.

With its Intel i5-6200U 2.3GHz Processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB solid state drive, the HP Pavilion x360 Convertible is virtually instant-on and off and is speedy to open programs, render videos, and surf the Web. The speakers are loud and clear and the inclusion of a wide-angle webcam, an SD slot, three USB ports (2 USB 3.0 and 1 USB 2.0), an HDMI port, an audio combo jack, a volume control on the edge of the laptop, a backlit keyboard, and an 8 hour battery lifethe HP Pavilion x360 Convertible would make any student happy!


I have a web page on my Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything site that deals specifically with online creation tools. With the ability to work, save, and access projects in the cloud, students truly can get to their assets 24x7.

The HP Pavilion x360 Convertible, because of its specs, especially the multi-angled touchscreen, the long battery life, and speedy performance, is one laptop that really shines using online tools. In addition, by being a "real" laptop with ann SSD drive, students can easily have the gathered assets they need to pull into an online tool handy.

I used the HP Pavilion x360 Convertible to create four projects, outlined below.

Online Tool 1: Canva  

Canva is an online desktop publishing tool. The number of graphics templates for a student's every need, as well as hundreds of built-in assets to use, makes Canva a perfect tool for creation of graphics for use in student projects, from blog posts to infographics. I used the HP Pavilion x360 Convertible in touchscreen tablet mode and Canva to create the image showcasing the four different modes of this laptop that you seen above.

Online Tool 2: Awwapp

A Web Whiteboard (AWW) "is a touch friendly, online whiteboard that lets you use your computer, tablet, or smartphone to easily draw sketches, collaborate with others, and share them with the world." One of my current passions is teaching educators to work with students in the area of visual note-taking, also called sketchnoting. I have resources and links on this page.

I decided to complete one of the activities I have teachers do in my sketchnoting workshop, using the touchscreen tablet mode of the HP Pavilion x360 Convertible and the online Awwapp tool. The exercise (learned from Mike Rohde's book) is to practice drawing faces, using only simple lines and dots. Below is my sketchnote. I used the Windows 10 Clipping Tool to take the screenshot.

Online Tool 3: Popplet

Popplet is available an an iPad app but is also available online. It is a mind-mapper which allows the inclusion of images and text. It can also be used as a storyboarding tool, a concept mapper, for the development of the parts of an essay, the outlining of the research cycle, character maps, and much more. I have additional information about mapping assessments and mapping tools on this page. 

Here is a Popplet I created using the HP Pavilion x360 Convertible in tablet mode.

Tool 4: Videoscribe

Although Videoscribe is not an online tool, I wanted to try out the Windows version of it. I usually use it on the Mac and it is one of my favorite tools!  I used Videoscribe on the HP Pavilion x360 Convertible to create this little promo for the laptop!

If you are looking for a reasonably-priced laptop that has many of the newest features, including a bright touchscreen, four modes of using, a great sound system, speedy performance, and a long battery life, check out the HP Pavilion x360 Convertible!

This is a sponsored post on behalf HP and Best Buy.
I received compensation for this post, however all opinions stated are my own.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Virtual Reality in the Classroom

This post originally appeared on my Discovery Education blog, Kathy's Kathy, in April of 2016. 

We hear a lot of talk about the use of augmented and virtual reality in the classroom to support teaching and learning. Here is a simple explanation showcasing the difference between them.

Augmented Reality
One way to experiment with and learn more about  augmented reality is with the use of the iPad and the app Quiver (previously known as colAR Mix). This app includes design pages to print out and color, and then, when viewing the page through the iPad app, the page “comes to life” and is interactive, as seen below. In addition, students can even record the interactivity as seen in the video below. 


Virtual Reality
To learn more about virtual reality, the use of Google Cardboard is a great way to start. Although the definition above of virtual reality includes the words “alternate world”, I like to describe it as immersion into another place or space.
As an early adopter of  new technologies, I have assembled and experimented with a Google Cardboard device since 2014. For those of you not familiar with the Google Cardboard technology and what it can do, it is really quite simple to get started. You need three things. First, you need a smartphone. Second, you need a Google Cardboard-certified viewer. The smartphone is housed in the viewer and the viewer includes two lenses that focus on the smartphone screen.
Some Cardboard-certified viewers I own include:

And thirdly, using an app on a smartphone, you simply load a VR image, game, or movie that shows up on the cell phone screen looking something like this. You then place the smartphone in the Google Cardboard viewer.

When you view a 360° spherical panoramic image with Cardboard viewer, you are able to move your head up and down, turn your body around, and view a 360° aspect of the image, as if you were standing where the image was taken.
To get a feel for this without Google Cardboard, there are now Web sites that allow you to use your mouse or finger to move a spherical panoramic image to interact with a 360° view. It is not as immersive as looking through a Google Cardboard device, but click on this URL and use your mouse to move the image left, right, up and down to get a tour of my geodesic dome home!
There are are also Web sites and smartphone apps that allow the viewer to both manipulate a 360° image (like above)  as well as view the same image using a Google Cardboard device for an immersive experience. Using your smartphone, download the app for iOS or Android, search on “Cape Cod Houses” and, when you see the full image of the interior of my house on your smartphone screen, you will also, for a short second, see a little Google Cardboard icon. If you miss the icon, which fades away quickly, just lightly tap your smartphone screen to make it appear again, and then tap the icon. You will see the split view of image, and can load your phone into your Cardboard viewer, and now have an immersive tour of my home!

In addition to static images, Google Cardboard allows you to be immersed in a video, as if you were there. You can move away from the view of the camera to look around at anything you want! Discovery has begun to create virtual reality experiences and tours through their Discovery VR project. In this project, you can view videos in 360° through your computer Web browser or via the Discovery VR app for iOS,Android. In addition, using the same app, you can be immersed in the video via a Google Cardboard device or Gear VR.

I cannot show you the immersive view I see when using Cardboard to view the video, but below is a short movie shot in the the app as I moved from viewing the video in 360° and then viewing it in the way Cardboard needs to see it.


The Discovery VR site  includes many great videos and tours, which include the videos below and others in the areas of extinction, extreme sports, a visit to Austin, and more. With a Google Cardboard headset, students can experience these events as if they were there! And, without a headset, they can interact with the videos and control what items they are viewing.

Creating virtual reality tours
Virtual reality is an engaging way to experience something that you can’t do in real life because you aren’t at the site, don’t like rollercoasters in real-life, or have no desire to really swim with the sharks!
However, the exciting thing about this new technology is your students can easily create their own virtual reality tours to share with the world!  I have just started doing this in the last month, and have created 360° spherical panoramic images and and few videos that others can view with a Web browser or via a Google Cardboard headset. You can see a few of them here. I also discovered, when uploading my VR images to Google Photos, they become interactive when clicked on in a Web browser or in the Google Photos app. Check it out!
The start-up cost is under $400 (in addition to having a smartphone) and I guarantee you and your students will find it as fun and educational to create these images and videos as I do!
My VR toolkit includes:
An iPhone 6s+, the Ricoh Theta S camera, the View-Master VR Starter Pack, aSmatree tripod, and a Promaster SystemPRO TB1 tripod bag (not pictured).

The use of this technology to support teaching and learning, both by embedding videos such as those in Discovery VR to enhance the curriculum or by students creating their own VR images and videos, is starting to be used in classrooms across the world. I add links to my augmented and virtual reality page as I find new information, apps, successful practices, and tutorials, so please visit often!
Have you used Discovery VR in your classroom yet? How about Google Cardboard devices? Have your students created 360° images that others can view? Please share your experiences and ideas with the rest of us!

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Tech Armor has you covered!

Because I am a "gadget geek", and purchase new tech as soon as it is released, I am always very careful with my current devices so I can sell them when new models come out. I am never without screen protection for any device, and, when Tech Armor asked me to review the screen protection products they offered for the devices I currently owned, I jumped at the chance!

Tech Armor has been selling screen protectors, cases, and various accessories since June of 2012. Their co-founder, Joseph Jaconi, talks about wanting to bring big-brand value to the consumer at a much-better cost, which they have done. However, Tech Armor's commitment to customer service and support (including a lifetime product replacement warranty) is what makes them stand out from the competitors!

All of the protectors I received were made from ballistic glass, which excels at protecting the devices from scratches, has the best clarity, touchscreen accuracy, and leaves minimal smudging and fingerprints on the screen!


I have both the iPad Pro 9.7" and the 12.9" and was very impressed with Tech Armor's solution to help apply screen protectors to these larger devices. The inclusion of two small suction cups to support the installation process is a great idea and made the screen protector very easy to install! This ballistic glass screen protector is available for $19.95 for either the 9.7" or 12.9" iPad Pro.


I have the 38mm stainless steel Apple Watch with the more scratch-proof glass, but I still worry about scratching the face of the watch.

The Tech Armor Ballistic Glass Screen protector ($9.95+) comes with one or two protectors, great instructions, dust removing strips, a cleaning cloth, and a squeegee for removing any bubbles. In addition, there is an online tutorial for those that want to watch the process before applying the protector.


The 3D curved glass iPhone screen protector ($24.95) provides protection for the phone from edge-to-edge and even curves, oh-so-slightly, over the edges of the phone. The kit includes all the instructions and materials to apply the full-face protector, and comes in black or white.


This clear ballistic glass screen protector for the iPhone 6+/6s+ ($8.95) provides complete, clear, coverage for the phone with scratch protection, impact resistance, and minimal fingerprints! This screen protector does not cover the curved edges of the phone, and makes it easy to add a back case for protection, too.


This iPhone case ($19.95) is a flexible case that adds minimal bulk to the phone, and provides both drop protection and screen protection when your phone is face-down because of the raised edges.

The ports are all easily accessible and the headphone jack port even accommodates a headphone with a bit larger plug size than the Apple headphones.

I have not used this case for too long, but I was concerned that dirt might make its way in through the cut-out square on the back. I have had no problem with this yet, though.

Tech Armor offers protection and cases for many technology products, as you can see below! If you want a low-cost, high-quality product to protect your mobile technology, give them a try!