Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back to School and QR Codes

While I do not head back to school until after Labor Day, I know many teachers around the country have started heading back this week.  Each year I wonder how to start the school year.

Being in the computer lab and the library my students have me each and every year.  The rules and procedures stay pretty much the same.  My problem is clear, how do I go over the rules and procedures with students who have now had me or two, three, for four years already and keep both of us interested.  In past years I have tried using a video.   The video was interesting to the students but I found myself wanting to stop it and expanding on what I already said in the video.  In younger grades I tried a PowerPoint game but the game took longer than expected and students were fixated on the score and not the content.

The last two years I had third graders create signs to hang around the library and act out parts of the rules and procedures.  The skits were adorable and humorous. While that seems to be the best method for that age, months later, each group only remembered their assigned rule or procedure.

Last year I tried QR codes with the fourth graders.  Using http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ I created QR codes and spread them around the computer lab and library.  In groups students used iPads and the app Scan to scan and read the rules and procedures. They wrote the rules on a worksheet that told them the locations of all the codes. The students learned what a QR code was and were encouraged to bring them in when they found them.  Students mostly brought in ads but I did get a Heinz Ketchup bottle and a Taco Bell wrapper. FUN.

This year I've learned.  Students will have a worksheet with questions like the one below.  (Theirs will not have the answers.)  Instead of just seeing the location of the code they have a question to answer. Instead of Kaywa, I used http://qrphoria.com/ to create my QR codes.  QRPhoria is an amazing site with a lot of options for customizing QR codes though it is still SIMPLE to use.  With technology, I often feel that is the key.  Keep it simple but make it look amazing.

First you choose the context you want to show once the QR code is scanned.

Next add the information. It may be text, contact information, a url, etc.

Then you get to choose a style.  There is the traditional QR code if that is what you want, but you can get more creative and have scribbles, tile work, or one of the 13 other styles. Here you pick colors too. 
::It is here I usually have my iPad or iPhone and I scan to make sure the QR code colors and style work easily for my students before moving on::

If you are not sure, QRPhoria will give you some ideas, so do not worry.

If you are trying to keep it simple skip down to save.

 The next step, encoding is for redundant data.  As the creator you must decide how much redundant data you want in your code. The lowest is L, which allows the code to be read even if 7% of it is unreadable. Then M at 15% and so on.

 If you have a certain look for your code you can draw and erase but I warn you, be careful!

Last SAVE! The size depends on how big you plan to make it.  I always save big, just in case.

As with last year I will use QR codes again for teaching the Dewey Decimal system and I hope to come up with more ideas throughout the year.

If my students were older they would have their own cell phones or iPads and I would put QR codes on the books leading to book trailers, author's websites, lists of new books to our library, and so much more.

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