360° Virtual Reality Video for the Classroom

As a teacher who’s keen on using film footage in class, you can imagine my excitement when I first came across 360° video. It was this film that recently caught my attention that made me realise how engaging it could be in the classroom.

*For full impact and effect, before clicking you need to view this blog on Google Chrome or on a current Android OS for full effect of 360 video – see below for details.


What such footage does is place the viewer in a virtual reality environment giving them control on where to look, immersing them in a virtual, three-dimensional world – a superb stimulus for the classroom, don’t you think?

How to Use:

First of all, to be able to move and manipulate the camera angle, you need to be using a recent version of Google Chrome as a browser for a desktop or laptop. This is easy to download and free too.

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A 360-degree camera

For mobile technology and tablets, currently only recent versions of Android are able to view the 360 video. Using the gyro-axis on a phones and tablets, will enable to user to turn the device, in-turn changing the aspect within the video. I’m positive this will soon change though, with operating systems such as IOS allowing for users to access this. Stay tuned!

My initial thoughts were that such footage could be really useful in class. Especially seeing the impact first-person GoPro footage had upon writing with my year fives on particular writing projects last year. Fortunately, this technology is becoming more and more popular and accessible to people.

With YouTube now allowing 4K content to be accessed, 360 degree video and 3D video, there can only be a wealth of these types of video to come in the near future.

It is important to add that some of the footage available differs in quality; some being in HD (or less) and some in 4K (which is a recent 4 x HD standard), now available on YouTube.

What I’ve done is handpick some true 360 footage and embed them below for you to try. What do you think?





Google Cardboard

At the start of the year, Lee Parkinson blogged about the use of Google Cardboard (Virtual Reality Headsets) – see here for its impact with particular apps Lee used in class. In my opinion, these headsets would work brilliantly with 360 video too – you can buy them here – and seeing as though maxresdefault (1)more and more 360 video is available, I can see these becoming more popular, especially when Apple upgrades its IOS. For now, most of us will have to make-do with using Chrome on desktops and laptops, however, I think you’ll agree the possibilities for this are rather exciting to say the least.

I’d really appreciate it if you could all add your own ideas and suggestions for how we could use such footage in class. Using this Padlet link, please add any ideas you have or footage you manage to find. Do forgive me, as I’ve painstakingly tried and tried to embed Padlet in WordPress to no avail.

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 14.05.45

What does this mean for the future of film-making? 360 degree movies using tripods? One can only imagine…

Other Useful Links & Important Information:

Gizmodo article on YouTube 360 video: http://gizmodo.com/youtubes-ready-to-blow-your-mind-with-360-degree-videos-1690989402

Advice on uploading and viewing some 360 content: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/6178631?hl=en-GB

Watch 360-Degree Footage with Google Cardboard: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/6239930?hl=en-GB

A website with an abundance of 360 video footage: http://video.360heros.com/

360-degree footage of cities and places around the world: http://www.airpano.com/360-videos.php

Article on YouTube now supporting 360 video: http://www.theverge.com/2015/3/13/8203173/youtube-now-supports-360-degree-videos

I will continue to add further video and ideas after our new baby has arrived and I have more time. Enjoy and thanks for reading – hope it’s useful!

Mr C

Using GoPro First-Person Footage as a Writing Stimulus

I’ve been thinking and writing about Go-Pro cameras for a while now and wanted to share some ideas on here; even if just to make you aware how useful certain footage could be to stimulate quality writing, as I see real potential in them.

What is Go-Pro?

Firstly, Go-Pro is a type of camera that fits to a helmet or part of the body, to give the user the ability to record video footage from a ‘first-person viewpoint’.

Within extreme sports, such as surfing, sky-diving and other adrenaline sports, these cameras are widely used and can be so impressive and fascinating to watch.

Here’s a first-person video of Kelly McGarry’s (a daredevil mountain-biker) backflip over a cavernous 72-foot wide canyon.

Daredevil Mountainbiker:

Writing Ideas:

– Write a narrative/story of the daredevil ride.

– Write a recount or blog of the ride, with you as Kelly McGarry from before the event and after. 

– Create a news report as a sports journalist who was there on the day. 

– Using Lee Parkinson’s 15 Lessons for the World Cup e-book ideas, which you can buy here, you could record a pre-race commentary using Explain Everything – an app that Lee suggests in his book. I absolutely love this and used it recently in history, teaching about Anglo-Saxon settlements – see Lee’s great blog on its use on marking here

– You could generate vocabulary linked to the person or even location. See my previous post on using vocabulary art for this approach. 

– Write a description of the location, focusing on pathetic fallacy, a type of personification I’ve learned from Mat Sullivan and Alan Peat, where nature is given a ‘human form’.

What About Other Footage I Could Use in Class? 

There’s so much about! I recently shared Huffington’s Top 26 videos on my digital magazine, ‘Moving Writing’ on Flipboard which is here: https://flipboard.com/section/moving-writing-through-sport-bQJVGH

Huffington Post’s Top 26 Go-Pro First Person Videos: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/12/15/best-gopro-videos-2014_n_6327672.html

There are some great first person shots and not all are sport related either, such as this Lego man from Canada (my birth country), who travelled all the way to space. Children will love this!

Lego Man Enters Space:

Writing Ideas: 

– Children could write about their incredible day from the perspective of the Lego man. 

– Using Mat Sullivan’s comic planner, writers could sequence the events, adding internal monologue and dialogue to the story. 

– Twist the end. What happened after? Pause the video and get the children to come up with an alternate ending, possibly starting an intriguing new story! Again, the use of a comic planner here could be vital! Make the moment at the end of this video the start, using an ‘in media res’ opening. 

Or what about this guy jet-skiing through a canyon? Looks like great fun! Reminds me of the pod race in Star Wars: Phantom Menace.

Jet Skiing Through a Revine:

The Telegraph’s top 10 from last year is excellent as well, which you can view here.

One of my favourites is this: a Go-Pro camera attached to an eagle.

Writing Ideas: 

– Allow the children to comment over the footage in the style of David Attenborough. They could use Explain Everything or iMovie to create their documentary on an eagle or other animal. 

– Create some descriptive writing, focusing on the senses, with writers listing things they can hear, see and feel based on the video, with them as the eagle itself soaring above this beautiful Alpine landscape. 

Imagine the engagement and potential writing you could obtain from this.

What if an eagle was to soar through a city…

This could also generate an interesting debate and discussion, as the aim of the above has been to increase people’s awareness (in cities such as London) of the threats to endangered species like the Imperial Eagle seen in the video above.

Please have a look online and feel free to ask me on Twitter for any suitable ideas or links you might need @johndcotter.

My advice is have a look and see what you can find, but also, be mindful of some of the content and language used in some of the videos, as some of it is rather ‘extreme’.

Thanks for reading – I promise to update this with further videos and links I’m allowed to and will always credit the author, creator or person with the original idea. Cheers.

‘Thinking in Words’ – Using Sport to Develop First Person Writing

As a lover and player of various sports growing up, both competitively and for leisure, this internal voice, or monologue, is something of great importance to an athlete and vital when taking part in sport.

Constantly, athletes berate and question themselves. Whether it be during training or competing, at an amateur or professional level, players use an internal monologue, not often seen or witnessed on TV.

Take Tommy Haas for example, an experienced tennis player. He is not going to win the U.S. Open. At 36, the German is the oldest player in the men’s field and is clearly past his prime. (His peak rank was No. 2 in 2002.) But in 2013, after years beset by injuries, Haas had a renaissance. He beat Novak Djokovic last year, becoming the oldest man in three decades to defeat a No. 1 player. Clearly Haas is in great physical shape. His mental game, too, is one of the best in the world.

So, what is Haas’ mental approach to tennis? The video below, from the 2007 Australian Open quarterfinals, gives us a fascinating, rare glimpse at an athlete’s innermost thoughts. The scene: Haas, serving at 15–40 and one set from elimination against Nikolay Davydenko, nets an easy forehand. He has now had his service game broken for the fifth time in the match. As he sits during a two-minute changeover, he excoriates himself in his native German. (Note: The video’s pop-up English subtitles may not appear on tablets or other mobile devices.)

****Watch out for swear word.****

Here’s the transcription:

You can’t win that way, Haasi. It’s not possible. It doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t work. Just too weak. Too many errors. Too many errors. [A group of crowd members start chanting something in English. Haas then thanks someone in English for bringing him something.] It is always the same. [Blows his nose in a towel while a spectator can be heard shouting, in English, “Come on, Thomas!”]

I don’t want this anymore. I don’t feel like it. Why am I doing all this? For what? For whom? Except for myself. Why? For which reason? I can’t do it. I don’t get it. I’m paying people for nothing. For absolutely nothing. [He starts sipping from several different bottles and is quiet for several seconds.] That I can get excited over it. You’re a retard. [The same male spectators begin to chant something that sounds like “Let’s go, Tommy!”]

Once again, you didn’t go to the net. Nicely done. [Finishes drinking, takes off baseball cap. Smooths back his hair, puts cap back on.]

But you’re gonna win. You’ll win that match, come on! You can’t lose it. Fight! [Stands up and walks back on court.]

The video then shows Haas win the next point, an 11-shot rally, with a backhand down the line. Did his court-side monologue help him perform well? Many people in the field of sports psychology would say no—that Haas’ “self-talk” was overwhelmingly negative, and negativity hurts athletes on the field of play. Closer examinations of Haas’s self-directed diatribe, however, reveal that it may be more useful than you’d think.

On the field, course, track, pitch, pool or court, you are on your own. Even as part of a team, sport can be a lonely place, especially if mistakes are made and performance is affected. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for professionals – the physical and mental demands required must be so difficult to maintain. Those at the top, work hard, train even harder and have to be mentally tough.

One of those players that springs to mind, is that of Zinedine Zidane – a famous professional footballer who played for France, and clubs including Real Madrid, Juventus and Bordeaux to name but a few.

He was an idol of mine for many reasons (and still is) but is well-known for his bursts of anger and pure rage. A well documented example of this, was during the World Cup Final in 2006, where he head-butted an Italian player (Materazzi) for apparently making personal assaults on him. This ended in the player being sent off, and France being beaten. Unfortunately, because of this, Zidane will not only be remembered just for his ability on and off the ball, but incidents such as this where he lost control of his emotions.

It’s his character that interests me a lot though. Here, within the film ‘Zidane – a 21st Century Portrait’, he is filmed for the duration of a game versus Villarreal. With accompanying music by Mogwai, cameras and microphones capture his every move. A lot of it is from the first person and shows glimpses of what a footballer senses during a game.

Here’s a clip from the film itself:


Within the clip, and throughout the full film, Zidane narrates over certain parts (in subtitles) and talks about the voices he had whilst playing football growing up. I’m sure some of you can relate to this too!

He talks about the sights and sounds in the crowd; smells and feelings during the match, giving us a glimpse of what can through the minds of sportsmen and women. I think you’ll agree, some of them aren’t what you’d think.

Below, are some possible teaching ideas for using the above as a stimulus for writing. If you have any other suggestions or ideas, please comment or share them with us @johndcotter www.primarywrite.com

Thanks so much for reading.

Teaching Ideas: 

  • Develop sensory writing by firstly discussing the things Zidane could hear, see, smell and feel. List these using a senses grid.
  • Extend upon what the player could sense. What else could he possibly hear?
  • What happens next during the game?
  • Using descriptive writing and devices, write about what can be seen, such as the glaring floodlights.
  • Write a short recount about the match or a match, from the perspective of a chosen footballer – even themselves, with focus on using their senses and personal tone (positive and negative).
  • Live tweet from the mindset of the player – doesn’t have to be Zidane. This can be any sportsperson.
  • Show the pupils a short video clip of a player in thought, during a match at an important moment.
  • Use a comic plan (via @inspiredmind5) to write the thoughts and internal monologue of a player – possibly Andy Murray during the Wimbledon final or US Open final. Screenshot key images and moments where the tennis player is having a break between games.
  • Commentate on a recorded match or computer generated FIFA game in class.
  • Write a newspaper recount on a game. Not necessarily football, but another sport.

You can buy the album by Mogwai here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zidane-A-21st-Century-Portait/dp/B000HT2KVQ

You can buy the full film ‘A 21st Century Portrait here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000IMVERS/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_1?pf_rd_p=479289247&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B000HT2KVQ&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_r=1GJXJ97YYRNW0R1Y4B6F