Reading Alive w/Aurasma


Stephanie Taylor is a 6th grade ELA teacher at North Middle School.  She is also one of our #HCSInnovate teacher fellows.  A couple of weeks ago we were brainstorming ways to bring technology + student engagement into her next lesson in reading class.  Stephanie is fortunate enough, at NMS, to have the ability to check out one of their mobile iPad carts.

I’ll be the first to tell you that iPads aren’t my favorite tech tool in the middle school classroom.  I should also tell you that I earned the authority to say this because I taught with iPads in 6th grade for an entire year.  I won’t go so far as to say it was the worst year of my life, but boy was it frustrating.  (I think iPads are GREAT for primary!) Through trial and error I was able to figure out several engaging methods/ideas to use these babies with my middle schoolers effectively.  One of those ways was augmented reality.  Specifically, Aurasma.
I first learned of the “augmented reality” world through 2 Guys and Some iPads.  Brad Waid and Drew Minock are two of my favorite “Twitter” people and they host their own webcast called 2 Guys and Some iPads.  To summarize augmented reality in my own words: QR code on steroids.  You get the idea.  Download a QR code scanner on phone/tablet, links to camera on your device, hold device to a printed “QR code” and it links you up to something else (website, form, video, photo, etc).
Last school year, Melanie Baak (4th grade teacher at Creekside Elementary School), did an activity on summarization where students created videos and overlaid them on articles in a station rotation style activity.  Bethany Inman (Visual Arts at Heartland Elementary School) used Aurasma as an interactive “art gallery”.  Student work was displayed in the hall for parent night and we overlaid videos from the “artist” on top of their art work for parents to scan and watch.  As I was sharing these ideas with Stephanie I could see her wheels spinning.  Here is what she came up with:
While reading a text set exploring the Holocaust and the theme of “Rules to Live By”, Stephanie wanted to make sure her students understood the vocabulary and context of Nazi Germany in WWII thus creating this lesson with Aurasma + iPads.


  1. For each table group, Stephanie selected nonfiction articles about WWII specifically designed to supplement their text set. In addition to the text articles, she collected several pieces of multimedia to “overlay” on the articles.  She had graphic novel cartoons, YouTube videos and photos.
  2. Before class, Stephanie created a “teacher account” on Aurasma and had the Library Media Specialist download the Aurasma app on all the iPads.
  3. When creating “Auras” in Aurasma, you first must choose the overlay (this was her multimedia, videos,etc).  The second step is to choose the photo or text on which the multimedia would be placed (images, words, infographics from the articles).
  4. Once the Aura has been saved and shared, it is ready to be viewed.
  5. Stephanie created a generic “Aurasma” account that she logged into on each of the iPads to minimize the stress during the actual lesson.  Once logged into each Aurasma account, she “followed” her own teacher channel.  This would allow her class iPads to view the Auras she had previously created.
  6. Students had already completed the first read for all of the articles.  Once teams were assigned a specific article, they had to discuss theme, topic, and main idea to refresh their memories about the specifics.
  7. After the discussion, students scanned their articles with Aurasma.  They looked at key terms, pictures, and infographics to discover triggers.
  8. Once all of the auras were discovered, students had to complete a series of questions in a Google Quiz to help them connect the multimedia to the content in the article.  These questions will become the discussion starters for their socratic seminar.
  9. The final piece of this unit is for each student to create a collage expressing what they have learned.  Students will be recorded explaining their collages.  These recordings will be overlayed onto the artwork and then displayed for other classes to listen to and reflect upon.


Be sure to follow #HCSInnovate to keep up with the awesome lesson ideas from our teacher fellows like Stephanie!

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