Saturday, December 15, 2012

QR Codes - Self Checking Assessment

Hmmm...Where will this take you?!
First of all, I can not take all of the credit for coming up with this idea! My grade level partner, Laura, introduced me to using QR codes and scanners for students to self check assignments. I have loved using these, and the kids love them too! It takes what is normally boring math practice and turns it into a fun, technology activity for the kids. And it takes almost no time at all to plan!

QR codes, short for quick response, are a type of matrix barcode that are tide with different types of information. You can use them with plain text, websites, app downloads, contact info, etc. All you need is a code generator and a app device with a QR reader app downloaded.

My favorite code generator website to use is QR Stuff. They have 20 different ways you can enter information including the ones I mentioned before and YouTube, PayPal, social media, etc. I use plain text so when it it scanned only words will appear. This also let's the students not have to use WiFi to access a link, sometimes ours is a little spotty. Laura has done it to were the text is in a Google doc and they have to click on the link to see the text. Both methods work.

I download the barcode as a jpeg, and paste them into the document I've typed the worksheet on and cut them out. I tried this past time downloading them and printing one to a page and they came out really big which I thought would help, but they weren't as easy to scan. During the warm up of the next class I reprinted a small version and they worked much better.

My favorite app to use is called Scan because it is available on Apple and Android devices. I have told the students to download the app at home because they can not access the stores at school, and saves time. This app also shows the history of what you scanned. It is very user friendly and we haven't had any problems with it.

Here is a link to my NEW TeachersPayTeachers store for a FREE download of an activity that I have created that uses the QR codes! Cross-Multiply-QR-Self-Check

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Classroom Website: Edmodo

When I joined my school this year, I was expected to create a classroom website. The majority of the teachers used ClassJump, but a few were starting to branch off to Edmodo. I created a website with each website, but decided to go with Edmodo.

I was first introduced to Edmodo in college when one of my professors used it. It was mostly for notifications of class cancelled, changed, etc. But I have taken it to a whole new level and used it as a student and teacher community. I have to do a leadership project as my first year in KY (second year overall) and I chose to do it on Edmodo because of how successful I think it is. Several teachers, including the entire 6th grade, have converted to Edmodo or at least are more comfortable with using it. I chose to use Edmodo as my classroom website for lots of different reasons. 
  1. Student Interaction, Promotes classroom community
    • On Edmodo students are encouraged to post questions on the group wall or can direct message the teacher. One concern that I had is messaging each other, but Edmodo only allows them to message the entire wall or the teacher. If students have questions on homework, were absent, etc. they can easily get in contact with me. I did set an expectation at the beginning of the year, that I would not respond after 8:00.
  2. Quick and easy to update, comment, post
    • This year I have planning at the end of the day. I try to set aside the first fifteen minutes to update Edmodo. I post a few sentences about what we did that day, the homework, and will sometimes post a picture of notes, a handout, or worksheet. I can post this to several of my classes at once (regular vs. advanced) in minutes! If I have assigned a quiz, test, or other deadline, I can quickly update the calendar. If parents have signed up for Edmodo, they can elect to receive text notifications or download the app and receive notifications. Everyone is kept up to date so no more excuses of "I didn't know!" I can post videos, links to website, worksheets, warm ups, etc in a library where they have access to everything. 
  3. Accessibility: Receive notifications through text, email, and iPhone, iPad, and Android apps.
    • I have the app downloaded on my iPhone and iPad. A lot of my students have a smart phone or device (kindle, iPad, tablet) that can download the app. If they do not have access to the app they can receive text messages or emails whenever I post something, and always use the website. 
  4. Organization: Allows a student to connect with all teachers at once.
    • This was the first thing (maybe quick updates) that ClassJump and Edmodo had in common. A student can have access to all of their teachers that have Edmodo all at once by joining a group. On ClassJump, the teachers are associated with the school group and they can find them from there. 
  5. Create small groups, add co-teachers for co-lab or PLC (grade level partners)
    • I have a co-lab teacher in one of my classes and she has been added to the class group. My PLC partner and I added each other to one group at the beginning of the year to help each other out when we were first learning things. I can create small groups within my classes if they were doing a project, etc.
  6. Great support team! Quick and fast to respond to questions
    • Any time I have had a question or stumped on how to make something work, I have posted something to their support group and have gotten a response, or multiple responses within a day, and sometimes an hour! This was wonderful at the beginning of the year.
Like I said, I love Edmodo! It's had a real positive impact with my students and our learning community. Because of the KTIP project, I have a PowerPoint on Edmodo (basics, set up, etc.) if you are interested in it. :-)

Why am I doing this?

As a teacher, my free time is usually spent grading papers, lesson plans, paperwork, etc. During the school year, who am I kidding the summer too, I spend a lot of my time at school or thinking about school. But I knew all of this would happen when I signed up. So why am I adding one more thing to my to-do list? I want to help teachers see how easy it is to incorporate the use of technology and still maintain a high level of learning and expectations.

When I was in elementary school I somehow managed to be placed in what my district called 21st Century Classrooms. These were teachers that had 5-6 computers in their classroom and one teacher computer plugged into a big screen TV (the original SmartBoard lol). These teachers used technology more in their lessons, had us do computer based projects, etc. I learned all of my quick keys, how to use Microsoft Office and Work proficiently, and could type without looking at my keys or typing with two fingers. But even with this, we still had a limited amount of technology to use or what to do with it.

How far we have come since then.

In my classroom alone I have a student and teacher computer, projector screen, Interwrite Tablet, WiFi and a speaker system. All of the teachers have access to two full computer labs, two mobile labs, and soon to arrive iPad lab (can't wait for this one!) This is the most technology I have ever had or seen in a classroom, and I am in heaven! I try to incorporate technology into a lot of my lessons in hopes to engage students and prepare them for an often times technology driven world. When I am competing against video games to hold the attention of an adolescent, ADHD middle schooler, I will try whatever might work if it means they are learning!

Here I am going to research, review, and analyze products I have used in the classroom. Pros, cons, what I would change, etc. If you have a product that you love, want to try, or have used but want to change, let me know and I would love to help!

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