My favorite part of being a librarian is the opportunity to collaborate with teachers. These partnerships let me get to know my students and colleagues in deeper and more authentic ways. Collaboration is common in certain content areas: English/language arts, social studies, science. But some of my richest and most interesting collaborations have occurred with less traditional content areas: art, PE, and math.
One of my favorite examples began when the art teacher approached me about incorporating virtual reality technology into an existing lesson. Art teacher Keisha McCauley used a “See, Think, Wonder” approach to introducing students to works of art. She found a YouTube360 video that she wanted to try. “Dreams of Dali” is produced by the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL, and lets students “go inside and beyond Dali’s painting”. As soon as I watched it, I knew students would be hooked.
We worked together to implement a 3-station rotation model. The focus of the rotations was completing a “See, Think, Wonder” graphic organizer for different modalities of art. Ms. McCauley directed one station in which students viewed a number of static art posters and worked together to complete the chart. The second station was an independent work area where students completed a “Hidden Cracks” activity, akin to finding pictures in the clouds on a sunny day. I manned the third station, the virtual exploration of a Dali painting. Students donned a pair of virtual reality goggles and were given the opportunity to view the experience and then complete their organizer. I then shared some history about the artist, as well as photos from his life. We ended our rotation with a look at the static painting “Archaeological Reminiscence” and a discussion about what we saw and what we still questioned.
One thing we noticed with our first implementation of this lesson is that the students needed more background knowledge before jumping into the virtual reality experience. We modified the lesson to include a video for the entire class about Dali, his life, and his connection to Surrealism. We also wanted a more direct connection with literacy and reading. I pulled books relating to Dali and surrealism and added a quick book talk for students interested in learning more.
As we move into our second year of implementation, there are several areas we would like to modify. We would like to connect the three rotations more closely, possibly focusing only on surrealism in the static poster rotation. Also, we would like to modify the “Cracks in the Sidewalk” activity to better connect to the overall theme of surrealism. Possibly this station could involve students trying their hand at creating surrealist works of art or focusing on a particular piece of art and evaluating it for surrealistic elements. We would also like to extend the activity in the future to allow students to try creating their own augmented reality experiences with their new knowledge.
Dr. Corey Hall is a middle school librarian in central Pennsylvania and an adjunct faculty member at Indiana Wesleyan University. She has 21 years of experience in the education field. She can be reached via Twitter @rchallway and Instagram @barons_librarian.