Summer of Strategies: Supporting Texts with Augmented and Virtual Reality

Summer of Strategies: Supporting Texts with Augmented and Virtual Reality


One of the most powerful things about technology is the ability to give both students and teachers access. This includes access to text, video, and interactive experiences, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

Augmented reality is a type of scannable technology. Augmented reality tools let students engage with content by seeing three-dimensional images layered on top of the real world. For example, students may explore an informational text on the solar system. They can then use an augmented reality app like Star Walk Kids on a smartphone or a tablet to see where certain constellations appear in the sky. All they have to do is to open the Star Walk Kids app on their tablet or smartphone and hold their device toward the sky. These kinds of experiences help readers build background knowledge on a topic and apply new vocabulary in a real-world context.

Virtual reality is technology that simulates the real world. The most popular form of virtual reality is used with a headset. With virtual reality, students can be “transported” to new places, like a coral reef or a rainforest. For example, students may look through a virtual reality viewfinder for a simulated visit to the Lincoln Memorial before reading a historical fiction novel about the Civil War.


Classroom Application

Tailor a virtual reality pre-reading activity to a book you are reading and the technology you have available. In a low-tech classroom, this could mean exploring a 360-degree video with students on an interactive whiteboard. In a high-tech classroom, students can take turns using VR headsets with a smartphone.


Steps for Success

  1. Choose a book you want to share with students, and identify important aspects of the setting, time period, and theme. This will help you figure out the best type of AR/VR experience to share with students.
  2. Locate a virtual reality video or simulation to share with students. Your choice will depend on your access to technology.
  3. Share the virtual reality experience with students. This may be a whole class share on a projection screen or sharing of VR headsets among students.
  4. After students have had an opportunity to experience virtual reality in action, ask them to share their wonderings and noticings with a partner. You may want to use the questions on the Virtual Reality Prereading sheets (see download below) as prompts for think-pair-shares.
  5. Once students have had a chance to discuss their reactions to the virtual reality experience, question them about their noticings and wonderings. You will want to tailor these questions to the VR experiences of your students and the connections you would like them to make to the book.
  6. As you read the book to students, pause to make connections to the VR experience where notable. Students can reflect on how the VR pre-reading experience helped them make meaning of the text.


For more information and student activity pages, download this free PDF. Click Here


Author bio

Monica Burns

Monica Burns, Curriculum and EdTech Consultant

Dr. Monica Burns is a Curriculum and EdTech Consultant, Apple Distinguished Educator and Founder of Monica was part of her school’s leadership team and was a vocal advocate for bringing one-to-one technology into her classroom. As a classroom teacher, Monica used iPads to create an engaging, differentiated learning experience to meet the unique needs of her students. Realizing the power of digital tools in the classroom, Monica started to provide a resource for educators.