QR Codes…the next step

In my previous post, QR Codes…the beginning, I outlined how we began using QR codes in one of our elementary schools. The posters  were up for scanning and we seemed to have worked out some of the bugs. We were now ready to begin using QR codes to link to student-created content.

It has been a vision of mine since my time as a middle school language arts teacher to have students create book reviews that other students could access to determine if they might be interested in reading it. Using this premise, I approached one of our elementary school librarians (Mrs. Bingaman) that I knew was interested in using technology and would be willing to dedicate some time to this endeavor. She was totally on board and eager to begin working with the students. We decided to elicit the help of the gifted education teacher (Mrs. Manley) as well. A graphic organizer was developed for students, which provided students a guideline to follow for their book reviews. Students then wrote and recorded their reviews using GarageBand.

Once we had student content ready to go, we used our district WordPress server to create a blog to host the reviews. Our blog site is called Red Mill’s Digital Dolphins. From this point, we just needed to create a QR code for the URL of each of the book reviews. When you code URL’s, the shorter the URL, the cleaner QR code you get. With that in mind, we decided to use Google’s URL shortening site named goo.gl. Goo.gl has its advantages because when you sign in with your Google account it will keep a history of the URL’s you’ve shortened, as well as some statistics. These statistics include number of clicks, browsers, platform, and country for the day, week, month, and all time.

Our final step was to place the QR codes in a place where people could access them. We received permission from our District Library Instructional Advisor to place the QR codes on the actual book the student reviewed. Now there is a book review attached to each library book that has a code on it. Students can now listen to a book review of the book before checking it out or listen to the review at home on a mobile device.

Thoughts/feedback/questions are welcome.

Book Talk Graphic Organizer


QR Codes…the beginning

Our school district is experiencing many economic challenges like so many other districts across the country. The technology department has taken an especially hard hit over the last two years. As an instructional technology specialist, I feel as though it’s part of my job to find ways to overcome this shortage and continue to innovate using free resources, tools, and technologies. So as this school year started, I set a goal to use an emerging technology with students. As I continued to observe the emergence QR codes , I decided to go in that direction. It was important to me that I use them in a meaningful way instead of just another “trick”, so this is the first post in a series that will chronicle our use of QR codes…

I began by doing some research on QR codes and observing how they were being used. After getting comfortable with the idea of using them in what I thought was an effective manner, I wanted to start by posting some codes in the lobby area of the school where parents picked up their children. These posters would include a code that linked them to the home page of school and the events calendar. My thought was that parents could scan the code to see what events were occurring at the school while waiting for their children. However, I didn’t just want to post codes without at least some explanation of what they were in case parents were not familiar with them. Without any explanation at all, they would most likely go unnoticed and unused. I lack even the most basic graphic design ability, so I sought the expertise of our district’s graphic artist to produce a small poster that included the QR code, a brief explanation of what it was, how to use it, and possible apps to use. Here is what she came up with:











Feedback and/or questions welcome!

2011 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Proud Parents!

As parents, we try hard to make our children kind, thoughtful people – and so far it looks like we’re succeeding. Below is an article from our local paper. They did all of this completely on their own. We couldn’t be more proud of them.

Highland Elementary School students wanted to send their principal to the roof.

And that is where he was on June 1 after students met their goal of raising $1,800 in one week for Relay for Life. The school’s Heart of Highland teams raised more than $50,000 in the five years they have participated in the event through the Camp Hill Relay for Life.

Highland Elementary
Beth Ann Heesen, The Patriot-NewsFrom left: Fourth-graders Caroline Kaiser, Molly Young, Mi chael Grunden, Ellie Hyde and Caitlyn Gray helped with the Camp Hill Relay for Life.

Last year, Principal Doug Enders agreed to put his swimsuit on and get dunked when students met their fundraising goal of $1,700. It might have been nice to cool off on that hot day, but this year Enders resolved to endure rain or the blazing sun to greet kids from his “rooftop office” by the school’s entrance.

“It might not be too bad,” he said before going on the roof. “I’m always looking for that killer suntan.” Students and staff enjoyed laughing at Enders, but their greatest aim was to help those battling cancer.

“I want to do relay so I can save a life,” said fourth-grader Caitlyn Gray of Lower Allen Township. She and classmate Ellie Hyde, also of Lower Allen Township, sold bookmarks out of their driveways and raised more than $400.

“We have gigantic signs we hold up by the street,” Hyde said, adding that her neighborhood has a “gigantic yard sale” coming up and that her family might sell her baby brother’s old toys, car seat and potty chair to raise funds. Gray plans to sell coffee, cookies and muffins.

Other students held lemonade stands, emptied their piggy banks, and asked for donations instead of birthday gifts.

“They have ingenious ways of raising money,” said Ruth Hoffman, the fourth-grade teacher who founded and coordinates Heart of Highland. “We have the best kids in the world.”

Enders said he is proud of his students’ participation. “It’s not about how much money we raise,” he said. “It’s about developing empathy and being involved.”

And, he said before going up, working on a rooftop does have its benefits.

“It might be a good day — not as many interruptions,” he said.

Dashboard Widgets

Dashboard widgets are mini applications that provide quick and easy access to information on your Mac. This episode of the Tech Tips Podcast will show you where they are, how to manage them, and possible student uses. Thanks for stopping by.

TTP #23 Dashboard Widgets from Chris Hyde on Vimeo.

Using Text To Speech

There are a lot of hidden features in the Mac operating system that are extremely useful. One of those features is the Text To Speech technology that allows your computer to speak selected text. This is a great tool to use with students who are emerging readers, struggling readers, auditory learners, students with visual impairments, or with ebooks. Text To Speech works with a designated key combination and works in web browsers, word processing documents, and with online books. Watch this episode to find out how it works and how you might use it in your classroom.
Please feel free to download the TextToSpeech.PDF file located at the bottom of this post for directions on activating Text To Speech.

TTP #22 Text To Speech from Chris Hyde on Vimeo.


Google Advanced Image Search

This post will show you how to do a Google Advanced Image Search in order to find images that are licensed to be used in student work. It is important that we teach kids how to be good digital citizens. Enter Creative Commons (or CC). CC allows owners of images, music, video etc. to basically ‘give away’ some (and sometimes most) of their rights to their work. Watch this screencast to see how you do an advanced image search using Google and where to find the license once you locate images.

If you’d like to learn more about Creative Commons, check out CreativeCommons.org and Wikipedia’s entry on Creative Commons.

Special thanks to Laurie Vitale (@lauriev88 on Twitter) for her contributions to this post.

TTP #21 Advanced Google Image Search from Chris Hyde on Vimeo.