Bulletin Boards on Steroids

How can our students experience another culture without going there in person? How will they ever truly compare the things that are the same and different with just pictures? Using augmented reality and iPads, the culture of France came to life for each of our students this year when I created a bulletin board on steroids. I used Aurasma + iPads to create an extraordinary global exploration.

For 17 days this past summer, I traveled throughout France with a mission to bring back stories, pictures, and information to share with our elementary students during this school year. Our school selects a faculty member from each division to send to another country, and in return, those selected are charged with leading the year-long study of that country; I was lucky enough to go to France.

Using technology to do the inconceivable!Groceries in rolling bag lady AZ

My mind was set on experiencing everything in France through the eyes of my elementary students. What would they notice? What would they want to see, touch, and smell? What would they think when they saw all of the different foods? Where could I go that would capture their interests and how could I explain the adventure in a way that they would remember? I took hundreds of photos, but pictures are so boring, so stagnant. With the use of technology, I created a bulletin board on steroids as I was able to do something previously inconceivable. I used the Aurasma app on the iPad to bring every picture to life.

aurasma-app-iconThrough augmented reality, my students saw everything I saw, they tasted and smelled right along with me, they walked on the bumpy streets of Paris and the pebble beaches in Nice; they turned on the lights and flushed toilets; they climbed the steps to Sacré-Cœur, saw the breathtaking view, and giggled at the accordion player on the subway back down.  My students walked down the dank passageway and touched the stacked bones in the Catacombs; they even counted sculls and estimated bodies: perfect for Halloween!!  They saw the “Sharks” swimming around the motes of the castles, walked through a secret passageway, and noticed the sharp edges of the meat cleaver used over 1000 years ago. French school children sang, “Let it Go” for my students and we watched them play and learn just like we do at our school.  A famous pastry chef, a candy maker, and many others welcomed our students to France. How was this possible? I used the Aurasma app to link videos to the pictures . The AURA, created  magically when scanned, brought experiences from my travels home to our students and connections were made.

Bulletin Boards on Steroids: Same or Different in France?

Here is one of the “Same or Different” bulletin boards on steroids in the hallway. Each image is linked to a corresponding video that begins playing when the image is scanned with the Aurasma app on the iPad.

Aurasma + iPads: Extraordinary Global Exploration

Here are just a few of the examples.

If you would like to experience the Aurasma aura like my students, follow these directions and then return to scan each image. same or different 22

Bulletin Boards on Steroids: Food in France

I  created another bulletin board on steroids with videos of my experience eating the food while in France.  If you follow these directions, download Aurasma and follow my channel, you can see a few of my experiences buying, tasting, and eating French food.FYI,  I did NOT like the white asparagus

Bulletin Boards on Steroids: Endless Possibilities

Just imagine all that can be learned using augmented reality when studying another culture! With the ability to turn a stagnant image-filled bulletin board into a living, breathing adventure, exploring everything outside the reach of our school becomes an adventure like none other. Think of it: I can show a picture of the fluffy, runny eggs at Le MontSaintMichel, but my students would never hear the rhythmic sounds of the whisks whipping the eggs to just the right consistency. I can show a picture of a little boy playing with his remote control car in the park, but when my students watch that same little boy teasing a toddler by keeping the car just out of reach, they realize that children across the pond are just like they are: playful and mischievous. My students know all about going to the sandy beach, but when I show them our feet actually walking, with great difficulty, on the pebble beach of Nice, their minds are filled with questions. The examples are endless and the possibilities are too.

Making Connections:

What if students used the interactive bulletin board auras as writing prompts to journal their discoveries about the country of study? Our students have a much better understanding of and curiosity about the country of study after interacting with the Aurasma images. Making connections across all subjects is much easier when students have done more than just look at an image. Yes, we can show images and videos, but when the image actually goes with the video in a magical augmented reality way, our students are completely engaged. We are doing the inconceivable!

Go Forth and Create Auras!!

What about you? What stagnant images, what boring bulletin board can you bring to life for your students? What experiences can you bring into your classroom just by creating an augmented reality aura? Use augmented reality to ignite curiosity on multiple levels. Use Aurasma + iPads to create an extraordinary tale of global exploration and be sure to share your story with others!

Plan ahead! If not this year, dream BIG and do it for next year. Let’s brainstorm all of the ways we could use Augmented Reality in our classroom.

I’ll help you!!




P.S. If your country of study is France, I have many, many, many Aurasma images to share.


When you create a “Thick” SMARTNotebook lesson, take advantage of all that can be linked on each page or in each file.

Package your SMARTNotebook lessons to teach like a DIVA!

How many times have you been teaching at the SMARTBoard, feeling very proud of how well your newly created SMARTNotebook lesson is going, only to have the students begin asking questions beyond what you had planned to cover?  Have you ever had those moments when you could only verbally answer their questions; you had nothing to show, nothing prepared to go in a new direction or go deeper? We’ve all been there!

Package Your SMARTNotebook lessons to engage

Take it as a compliment when you run out of information to share! Your student’s imagination is sparked and they want to know more. I think it is terrific compliment and natural result of interactive teaching. When the SMARTBoard is used the way it is designed to be used, students are engaged, touching, actively listening, and forming questions. However, great lessons don’t just happen. My goal when building a SMARTNotebook lesson, is to include not just facts, but tangents that set my students up to ask “Thick” questions, not “Thin” questions. When I design a lesson, I try to include the [click to continue…]


As you will see from this AppSmashing Debussy Project, iPads Have Transformed My Music Classroom

Going to 1:1 iPads  in my school, completely transformed learning in my classroom and me as a teacher. Here is just one example of the quantity and quality of work Apple technology promotes with my third grade elementary music students. Take a look at this AppSmashing Debussy Project:

During this past 9-week term, the Frenchman, Claude Debussy, was the focus of our composer study. Third grade students were able to use their iPads to elevate and extend analog learning in the following ways: [click to continue…]


If you are a music teacher with a SMARTBoard, the Magic Pen tool and Fading Ink properties can turn an ordinary lesson into an engaging learning experience for your students. As a Certified SMARTNotebook trainer who is also a musician, I’ve found ways to make the SMARTNotebook features work optimally in a musical setting. Here are my discoveries: the Magic Pen and Fading Ink for Music Teachers.

Magic PenAdd the Magic Pen

There are two ways to customize and add the Magic Pen tool to the tool bar in SMARTNotebook:

  1. Right click on the toolbar and the Customize Toolbar will pop up
  2. Go to VIEW > Toolbar Options > customize

Magic Pen Fading Ink toolbar

While the Customize Toolbar window is open, drag and add the Magic Pen to the desired place on the toolbar.  “Done” closes the window.

Adjust the Magic Pen

Once the Magic Pen is on your toolbar, there are several ways to adjust the settings for your use: [click to continue…]

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TMEA Resource Links 2015

TMEA header

Here are my TMEA resource links.

flippin the Music classI’m having a great time presenting at the Texas Music Teachers  conference in San Antonia, TX this week.  Here are quick links to my shared resources:

“Flipping the Elementary Music Class”

“Not Your Momma’s Music Class”

Apps We are Discussing:








SMARTBoard Koosh Ball Challenge

Download the free Koosh Ball Challenge template below.

Watch this video for directions and a brief walk-through on HOW to link pages to objects.

Koosh Ball Challenge Instructions

Koosh Ball Challenge Features

The Challenge is to adapt and create your own interactive lesson using this template.  Experiment with these features:

  • Insert objects
  • Attach sounds
  • Animate objects
  • Change the color of the Home page balls or lines around the balls
  • Change the width of the lines on the return button on each page
  • Link a video example to a page
  • Link to an outside source like an interactive web page
  • Can you create a theme for each page?
  • Be consistent in the use of fonts. Are they readable, kid-friendly, 24pt+
  • Use  your iPad to record new sound samples for your activity
  • Create at least one surprise page: “Brain Break” moment

Koosh Ball Challenge Rule

Only one rule: The students must come to the SMARTBoard to interact with the activity – maybe not on every page, but on most of the pages.

Thoughts to ponder: [click to continue…]

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