Novels, Stations, and Tech via Aurasma

One of the ways to connect students to the novels we read in class is to front-load some of the culture.  While we, as teachers, have a lot of life experiences that give us a broad view of the world, our students often have no prior knowledge on which to draw as we share problems, products, practices, and perspectives from the countries where our language is spoken!

I am about to start the novel Esperanza and my sophomores will get their first real foray into using language to talk about a deep topic.  But I have to keep it comprehensible and I have to arm them with the necessary facts if they’re going to feel comfortable and confident.

A few years ago, my friend, Kristy Placido, was about to do some high tech centers with her class to kick off a unit.  I expressed my jealousy since I had NO tech… and she took no excuses.  She told me if I wanted to, I could come up with a way to use stations too.  Even low tech!  So I did!  I created 7 stations for the novel we were about to read with videos I downloaded to my own laptop, memes that I printed, activities from the novel’s teacher’s guide, and music that accompanied the study.  It went GREAT!  The best station was the speaking station where students were able to spend one rotation just talking to me!!! I was able to feel them out and see what they already knew before we even started to read!

I’m in a new position and I have LOTS of techy stuff now… so the bar is raised!  How will I use what I have to further engage students and deepen their acquisition of the language!  I don’t want to use these 1:1 iPads just to fill in digital worksheets!!!

I decided to create 3 stations powered by the Aurasma app.  Here’s what I did and what I didn’t do but should have:

Station 1: Speaking Station (I should have sat out one rotation so I could have solved some tech problems earlier on!)

Station 2: Students read an article that gave them some background on Guatemalan Trash Miners and answered three questions (all in English).  We will take this base knowledge and build TL skills over the rest of the week!

Station 3: Students looked at a picture of a family in their home in Guatemala and wrote 5 strong, detailed Spanish sentences about what they saw.


Station 4: Students read a slideshow from the Teacher’s Guide for the novel about houses in Guatemala.  They had to summarize what each slide said in 1 line of English.


Station 5: Students had a map of North and Central America.  When they held the Aurasma app over the map, over Guatemala, a video appeared as a layover.  They watched a silent film of all the sites of Guatemala.  When they finished, they had to write about what they saw… What is there in Guatemala?

Station 6: Students had a map of northern Central America.  When they held the Aurasma app over the map, over the capital, the trailer for the movie Reparando appeared as a layover.  They watched the trailer and in ENGLISH wrote a paragraph about how actions of the past have affected Guatemala even today.

Station 7: Students had a map of the United States.  When they held the Aurasma app over the map, over California, they saw a YouTube video called “Which kind of Asian are you?”.  Kristy recommended the video to me and it is great!  It is NOT what it sounds like.  Students watched the video and then in ENGLISH wrote a paragraph about what this video says about prejudices and stereotypes in the US.


  1. Easy to create your “AURAS”… Go to  Upload your image and then upload your overlay… BUT before you save, the default is set to PRIVATE… you need to click on SHARE… then SAVE.  Now it is a public aura and your students will be able to see it.
  2. When students download the app, they have the option to “skip” making an account.  This is what we did at first…. but when they tried to read the auras, nothing happened.  After some investigating, my Network Specialist (at my school even) husband discovered that they MUST make an account AND they must follow YOU!  Then they can see your Auras.

The first time you do an Aura in class, I recommend not tying yourself up with a speaking station… I had a very hard time keeping up with my responsibility there AND trying to troubleshoot kids with the iPads.

I plan to make a LOT more Auras… Now that I know the tricks, I can think of lots of ways to use it!



  1. Love this!!!! I’m getting ready to do Esperanza with my Level 2!!! I’m totally going to try this out! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love how you used Aurasma! I have seen it presented on several times and it has seemed impractical to me. This is such an easy use; I love it! You’re brilliant!

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