Building Coding and AR/VR Into Your Curriculum

I need a hero to save me now

Many states are seeing the value and importance of the computer sciences as technology advances continue to change the career landscape for our students. While there is a growing movement to weave those computer science standards throughout regular classroom curriculum, it is still overwhelming for many teachers. While there are a lot of ways to have a day, week, or unit on coding, thanks to sites like , there’s also some science behind the idea of integrating computer sciences throughout our content lessons, where students can learn coding or augmented/virtual reality platforms simultaneously alongside the subjects we teach daily. Now that we are swimming in the deep waters of pandemic teaching and learning, implementing coding and ar/vr technologies is one lifeline we can throw out to students, whether we are virtual or in person this school year.

I need a hero (save me now)


In traditional education, we tend to isolate subjects when we teach them, and by doing so, we reduce the learning impact by denying connections students could be making when we have them switch between different topics. When we do have students switch from one type of math problem to a totally different type within one assignment, that helps them discover similarities and differences between different ideas. According to The Learning Scientists’ recent blog, “…using interleaving typically leads to more mistakes during practice, but in the long-run, the students retain their knowledge much longer.”

“…typically leads to more mistakes during practice, but in the long-run, the students retain their knowledge much longer.”

Six Strategies for Effective Distance Learning: A Summary for Teachers by By Megan Sumeracki, May 7th, 2020.

Granted, weaving back and forth between your subject matter and coding or using an augmented/virtual reality platform may not seem as cohesive as going back and forth between different types of math problems or grammar concepts, but it can still tap into that power of interleaving for learning,.

Dual Coding

Using platforms like Elementari , which uses visual coding to read, write, code, share, and remix interactive stories using professional illustrations and sounds or 3D Bear, which combines immersive technologies (Augmented reality (“AR”), virtual reality (“VR”), 360-photos, scanning & 3D printing) and inspiring pedagogic content for the best learning results, can also tap into other brain-based learning sciences, like dual coding. When students combine text with images, as they can with these platforms, then that gives them two ways to recall the information. Students love to illustrate their own stories using interactive platforms, and if you teach subjects like math or science, you can still tap into the power of these platforms by having students create fun “how to” videos. There can still be a story element via the characters telling the story or giving directions. But don’t stop there! Use dual coding in the directions and instruction you give students too! The connections students make between the text and image can be very powerful!

Retrieval Practice

Requiring students to take the information they have been getting from you or the lesson and then apply it to a how to tutorial over that information, or create a story with it, taps into to another learning science. This also helps students by giving them a fun way to get the information they have been putting “into” their brains “out” as they create. This is called retrieval practice, which is a powerful learning tool. Exit tickets are great ways to have students do a “brain dump,” which is another retrieval practice strategy, but if you can turn that “dump” into story telling? That not only ramps up engagement but also creates amazing learning opportunities through retrieval practice.

Social Emotional Learning

If you know me at all, you know that #SEL in the classroom is one of my passions. Elementari’s co-founder, Nicole Kang, opened my eyes to some new ways that coded stories, like what students can create in Elementari, can help students with emotional skills:

  • become content creators in 3D themselves, 3D modeller being one of the top 20 Jobs in the future and as important as coding.
  • learn spatial cognition.
  • change their mindset to creative problem solving and storytelling.
  • learn 21st century job skills in a way where technology is redefining learning.

Coded stories combine writing and computer science to create interactive digital storytelling experiences that can include: 

  • Animations
  • Music, Sounds, Voiceovers
  • Non-linear storytelling
  • App or game-like experiences

Writing is a way to express yourself and gives you power over your own emotions. 

  • What are my thoughts and feelings?
  • Why do I feel this way?
  • How do my feelings impact my thoughts, decision, and actions?
  • How can I express my thoughts and feelings?

I need a hero to save my life

Working with technologies like Elementari and 3D Bear also help students to learn that failure is just “debugging.” Essay and homework revisions are just version 2.0. Coding is a great way to develop growth mindset in students, and since a significant number of teachers aren’t coders, teachers have the perfect opportunity to model what it looks like to be a lifelong learner! Don’t wait to become perfect at either platform before diving in with students.

A hero’ll save me (just in time)

Use this as an opportunity to grow student leaders. When a student figures out how to make the dragon fly across the screen in their story, celebrate! Now you have a student who can teach others, and you are growing a leader in that student. My students from last year are still talking about Elementari and 3D Bear. They want to create with those platforms again. Of all the chaos we saw last year, my students remember the stories they created. The dancing chicken or flying dragon. What are you waiting for? Get started with coding, creating, collaborating today.

Heading titles are partial lyrics from Hero by skillet

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