Virtual Reality Lab at Manch Elementary
Below is the rationale from our principal, Mr. Danowski, for the vision behind the Virtual Reality Lab.
Over the past 15 years of working in education, I continue to hear from teachers that students in low income, Title I schools do not get the same life experiences that other students get around the district receive (field trips, vacations, etc). Most teachers feel that the lack of these experiences is one of the reasons why students do not acquire vocabulary. One of the best vocabulary strategies that teacher use is Ralia. Realia is a term for real things, concrete objects, that are used in the classroom to build background knowledge and vocabulary. It provides the students with experiences on which to build and an opportunity to use all the senses in learning. It allows students to see, feel, hear, smell, and sometimes even taste the object being explored.
Also see: The "30 million-word" gap is arguably the most famous but least significant part of a landmark study, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young Children, by the late University of Kansas child psychologists Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley.
Spirit of Victory
The VR Lab will be fully funded through the NV Victory Grant.
From the Grant: “This legislation provides an exciting opportunity for districts and schools to fully address the barriers to improved school performance in order to increase student achievement. Because of additional challenges for low-income students, Senate Bill 432, the Victory Schools program, is designed to meet student needs at the lowest performing schools within the highest poverty zip codes throughout Nevada. The goals of the program focus on students reading at grade level, being prepared for rigorous curricula.”
The idea that has come from this is a VR Lab were a teacher can guide students through different realities to gain a better understanding of vocabulary and the world outside of their own. How will this look at Manch ES? Manch ES has Wonders as it’s reading curriculum, purchased through the Victory Grant. Next year, a teacher can work with the VR Coach to create a “Preview” of units to come. Ex. In Unit 3: the Arctic is a theme throughout the unit. The teacher can give the VR Coach a list of vocabulary words, standards, activities, etc. and the VR Coach can create a unique experience to assist students in understanding/learning/experiencing the vocabulary in an authentic way.
For the community, the VR classroom can be a catalyst to engage our community. I plan to start weekly or bi-weekly “vacation.” Parents will be able to sign up in the front office (probably by grade-level) for different vacations. Parents will be required to come to school 15-30 minutes before their “vacation” and enter in through the solar system playground. Within the solar system playground there will will different booths set up on services that we can help with; Community in Schools, Boys Town, FACES, School Social Worker, Counselor, Health MED (PBIS), SafeKey, etc. I will also use this time survey the community and share any important messaging from the school or CCSD. I am calling this the “Timeshare Model”.