Coed, independent, PK3-12th grade school in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Virtual Reality Transports World Language Students: Developing Deeper Perspectives

by Teresa Andrés, US Spanish Teacher, and Richard Rho, US Technology Teacher
Shorecrest faculty continually strive to find new ways to prepare their students for their futures, to engage them in their own learning, and to explore new approaches to help them learn more effectively. Recently, a Shorecrest Innovation Grant enabled the purchase of a mobile cart with 20 Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, which can augment student learning across the curriculum.

In a recent example of these tools in practice, Sra. Andrés’ Spanish 4 and 5 classes navigated through a virtual reality tour of Buenos Aires, Argentina, so as to become familiar with this majestic capital city as a preparation for upcoming lessons. Upper School students were immersed in a virtual tour that enabled them to visit locations of historical and cultural significance.

“In preparation for our upcoming movie and lesson about Argentina’s history and foreign influences in the development of its capital, Buenos Aires, I thought how wonderful it would be for my students if they could use the new VR technology for that experience,” said Sra. Andrés.  “I wanted my students to fall in love with the city, the sights, and the culture so that they would want to travel there someday!”

Throughout the tour, Sra. Andres found various ways to support her students’ language skills while they learned about the rich history and culture of Buenos Aires.

Through VR goggles, students saw sites that reflected the city’s beauty and history: La Casa Rosada, El Palacio, La Avenida 9 de Julio, La Plaza de Mayo and La Plaza San Martín. Each location provided an immersive 360º panoramic environment for the student, along with descriptive captions, pertinent questions, and an accompanying recording. Students were in awe as they were transported to new locations thousands of miles away. “This is amazing!”, “How does this work?”, “Oh my gosh, look up and behind you! It’s so crazy!” were among the comments heard in Sra. Andrés’ classroom.  

As they went through the experience, students read about the locations, practiced their speaking and listening skills, and worked together to answer questions that would prepare them to learn about the significance of these locations.

Mr. Richard Rho, US Computer Science and Technology teacher, and Sra. Teresa Andrés, US Spanish teacher, collaborated on this project to create the custom-designed tour. They used a number of tools including Google’s new VR Tour Creator, Garageband, and Google Slides to design the comprehensive lesson plan. The World Language department was excited to be the first department to use this new technology platform to enhance learning and engagement in the classroom.

Richard Rho was quick to improve upon the lesson as it took place. “We learned from this experience how we can use this technology to enhance our students’ learning," reflects Rho. "We even made some edits between classes to improve the user experience for students.”

“I think that is what we do as teachers,” added Sra. Andrés. “We try new approaches that we believe in, leverage expertise and knowledge of our colleagues, and try to improve upon our lesson plans and activities to help us improve our practices!”

Shorecrest Preparatory School

5101 First Street Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33703
Phone: (727) 522-2111  |  Fax: (727) 527-4191

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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.