Monday, May 21, 2012

3 Reasons You Should Be Using QR Codes In Your Classroom

What is black, white and scanned all over?  QR Codes and they are here to stay.
QR code

What are QR Codes?

QR stands for Quick Response Code which allows the scanner to receive information quickly. Denso Wave, a Toyota company based in Japan, created QR Codes to track their automotive parts. Since QR Codes are two dimensional, scanning both vertically and horizontally, they can store more information than the traditional one dimensional bar code. As a result of free QR Code Reader software for smartphones, iPads, and computers, QR Codes have become popular for advertisers, businesses and educators.

Why are QR Codes perfect to motivate digital natives?
  • They are novel.  The  mind LOVES to be curious. Why do you think the newest restaurants and movies are always packed? Because curiosity is a natural motivator to force people to take action.  Don't wait until the novelty of QR Codes wears off. Start creating your own codes and watch students beg for more!
  • They are mysterious.   You get to control where each QR Code takes the students so you can make every QR Code link to something different. One QR Code may take a student to a website to extend the content while another QR Code will take the student to a recorded tutorial to scaffold practice.  What better way to peak a student's curiosity than with a novel black and white square?
  • They are engaging. QR Codes are meaningless black and white squares unless students take action to scan them. They can serve as a reminder that engagement is the key factor in comprehension. Create an environment that forces students to engage in their learning by giving them just the QR Code. It is the students job to scan the code to discover directions, expectations, or links to targeted websites.
How to use QR Codes in the classroom?

Last week I posted a few ideas to get you started. Click here to read the post.  If you already read the post and want more ideas, click here for a quick Google search result of QR Codes for classroom use.  If you still feel uncomfortable creating and using QR Codes, challenge your students to become QR Code Crazy. 
  1. Put students into teams of three. 
  2. Have them search for a website, video, blog or song that represents the current topics you are studying.
  3. Ask them to create a QR Code that links to that online site using .
  4. Have them save the QR Code and then print it out.
  5. Finally have students create three to four clues that describe where their QR Code is linked.
  6. As each team finishes, they share their clues with the rest of the class. The team that correctly guesses where the QR Code leads, gets to scan the code.
QR Codes are novel, mysterious and engaging. Take action and create your own QR Codes today! Next week's blog will focus on how is the perfect site for educational QR Codes. If you like this post, share it with your colleagues and ask them to join my weekly newsletter. Together we can put the cool, back into school.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

3 Ways to Reduce Repeating Directions

Are you tired of repeating literacy station directions? How about students turning in unfinished homework because they couldn't remember what to do? QR Codes will reduce and maybe even prevent you from ever having to repeat directions again.Don't believe me? Watch this quick video about a class that is QR CRAZY! They sound pretty cool don't they? QR stands for Quick Response Codes. They were designed to allow a smartphone quick access to information without typing in a website or phone number. If you don't have a smartphone (you can use a webcam on your computer, an iPod Touch, or an iPad tablet) keep reading because you will want to get one after you hear how a QR Code will make your students sit up and listen to your directions! Here are three ideas to get you started:
1. Classroom Library:Want to get students excited about reading? Create a QR Code that links students to a book trailer or an author's website. Put the QR Codes on the book or bookshelf next to the books by that author. Students scan the code, view the video and decide if the book sounds interesting. You will never have to give directions for how to choose the right book. Check out Dover Town Library's use of QR Codes:
2. Tutorial on Worksheets:Unfortunately many students don't have the extra support they need at home. You can create short tutorials or take pictures of the solution to math problems and turn them into QR codes. If students get stuck, they can scan the QR Code for help. I would suggest using to create the QR Code because the site tracks who and when it was scanned. This way you can tell if a student scanned the code. The days of going over homework in class are over! Watch this video to get some ideas: Click here for step by step directions.
3. Scavenger Hunt:Send students around the school, playground, or classroom by linking each QR code to a clue. After students complete the station, they scan the QR Code to discover where they should go next. You will never have to repeat directions for which station comes next. McGuffey School District in Claysville, PA has implemented many ways to use QR Codes in every subject. This video was created in 2010!

QR Codes are novel, fun, and easy to use. Remember to share the fun with other educators through your social media sites. If you want to learn more about QR codes, continue to follow the next few blogs as I get more detailed about QR Codes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

3 Tech Tools To End Your School Year With A Bang

Have your students become restless and apathetic toward learning?  Are you counting down the last few days of school? Put the pleasure back into learning by taking these three technology tools on a test drive.

During the 1920s, cars weren't used for practical purposes like going to the grocery store or getting to work, they were used to give the driver pleasure. Car owners would take their car on a leisurely test drive Sunday afternoons. This type of recreational driving was created to enjoy the beauty of the landscape. There was no pre-established destination and therefore, no expected time of arrival.

The last few weeks of school is the perfect time to test drive technology. Don't create a project with a due date, just enjoy the beauty of the online landscape.

1. Year in Review: Ask students to pick their favorite topic or the subject in which they learned the most and display their thoughts by making a 30 second video with Animoto offers free accounts to educators (scroll down to the bottom of the home page and click on Education). All pictures, videos, and music can be accessed right from the site, no scanning, filming or downloading necessary. Click here to view a past blog about animoto.
2. Curriculum Notetaker: Why not create a classroom blog to keep parents informed of daily activities and hold students accountable for taking notes during class.There are wonderful classroom blogs already established to help you get started. Click here to see Miss McFatridge's 4th grade student led blog created on offers free accounts but may be blocked by some schools. If it is, check out which offers the same services as a blog with a facebook structure. I have two past blogs that will give you more information, just click on the blog type you are interested in using: Blogger or Edmodo
3. Recreate Reports: If you want to take the fear out of giving a report, require students to create their own Avatar. is another free site for educators and offers detailed lesson plans for classroom use. Have fun exploring different voices and famous faces. Students type in their report and then sit back while their Avatar shares the information with the class. Vokis can be embedded into blogs and other online sites. For more information, click here for a past blog about avatars.

In 1903, Michigan Savings Bank said, "The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad." In 1977, Ken Olson said, "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home. " You can't afford to think like these naysayers. Be an innovative, creative educator by taking these technology tools on a leisurely test drive.

I would love to hear about your results. Pop over to my facebook page and tell me about your discoveries.