Tuesday, May 21, 2013

QR Adventures

Okay, so we had a big technological adventure last week in preparation for our Open House. Several months ago, one of our wonderful third grade team members visited a technology conference and came back with a myriad of seriously amazing ideas. One of them was implementing QR codes in the classroom somehow. 
Since this was our first experience with QR codes, we figured Open House was a good time to debut them; rather than using them during class time. So as Open House drew closer, we really had to focus our thought process and decide how exactly we wanted to use these codes. 
Because we are third grade teachers, the solar system plays a gigantic role in our spring curriculum. Through the solar system unit, we do a bunch of different projects with a large focus on a research-based planet powerpoint presentation. Now let me tell you, teaching third graders how to use powerpoint is its own adventure....something I would like to block out for about a year....However! The end result was pretty nice. 
The kiddos researched their assigned (i.e. drawn out of a bag) planet and filled out an outline in order to have their slides managed early on. Upon completion of the project, we teachers created a dropbox file for the documents. 
We figured that Dropbox.com was a simple to use, safe place to store the students' digital documents. We even went so far as to ensure that there was a specific account for the documents so that they were secure, though I don't believe that that is entirely necessary if you have our own Dropbox account. From there, Dropbox will assign each file its own URL, which is necessary in completing a QR code. 
All you need to do is right click on the file and select "Share Link."

This will open your link in a new tab and allow you to copy and paste the link into the QR generator of your choice. For our purposes, we used QRstuff.com. This website is incredibly easy to use and allowed us to pop out about 115 QR codes for the grade level in a school day.

Just copy your link from Dropbox into the appropriate box, select the color of your code if you wish, and then hit download or print. Again, for our purposes, we downloaded everything into a Word document and wrote their names underneath.

Because this was for Open House, we printed the codes and mounted them on cute paper for the parents to scan with their phones or tablets. All of this worked to great success! The parents were happy and the kids were stoked to see their presentation live on a tablet!

Most QR zapper apps work just fine, but we loved using Zapper Scan in our rooms. The application takes you directly to the Dropbox file in order to easily download or save the presentation.

Next step....Dropboxing for the whole school! 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Triumphant Return!

It has been established that I am really bad at keeping up on my blog....or that I have super-powered ADD sometimes...
So here I sit, in front of one amazing episode of Firefly, reliving the events of the past several months at school and realizing that I don't feel like I've even had a moment to sit down until right this second...and even then, I am (very importantly) multi-tasking with Nathan Fillion.

In any case, we are sprinting head-on into the end of the school year (Literally...I'm the track coach), and I'm looking into carrying out some new traditions I've enjoyed seeing.  Last week, we had Open House...which occurred approximately 4 school days after state testing was completed. Needless to say, everything was pretty rushed; however, everything pulled together and went off without a hitch.
Waaaaay back on the first day of school, I had taken pictures of the chickadees in which they had told me what it was that they wanted to be when then grew up.

Being as sneaky as I could, I  hid these pictures away until last week...when I posted them on the wall with a caption "When We Grow Up...Class of 2023."
I had seen a similar idea on Pinterest last summer, but had to wait for ages to finally put it all together. For the end of the year, I plan on writing them little yearbook-esque notes on the back...but I am a procrastinator and still haven't gotten that far.

In addition to that whole Pinterest-y activity, I also decided to try a nice compilation picture where all of the kiddos made a heart out of their hands. This took quite a bit of hilarious orchestrating and me standing on a table...which was super fun when they were in the perfect position and then the classroom phone rang....But the result of all of the staging and squished bodies worked out really nicely, and I do believe that I will do this picture every year!

And I'll leave you with my final activity planned for the end of the year. This is something that I've seen all over Pinterest, and even in a few coworkers' classrooms as the year has gone on: a thumbprint tree. Should take a short period of time to paint the tree, but then I can use it for years to come. I love the idea of documenting each year of students with their thumbprints....my only sadness is that I didn't find this activity during my first year of teaching!

Anyway, as we move into summer, I will try very hard to be a better blogger....cross my heart!