Tech Integration Post #10 of 10: Using QR Codes in the Classroom

QR (quick response) Codes are like barcodes on steroids!  They enable anyone with a QR reader app on their smartphone/tablet to scan the code using the device’s onboard camera, which then creates a shortcut to a variety different links.  Shortcuts may include links to website address, email accounts, pictures, videos, audio files, maps etc…

This QR Code links to a very informative Common Craft video which further explains QR codes:

Before you can use QR codes you need to visit a website to build it.  Here are a list of sites used to create QR codes:

Once you’ve created your QR code you should test with by using any of the free QR reader apps below:
When I saw the picture below, on a remote stretch of northern California highway, I realized the true impact QR codes have on our society, and how useful they can be to develop a deeper understanding of a subject:
Using QR Codes in the class:
  1. Self-guided tour of the school or the classroom:- QR codes could be place at key locations throughout the school and linked to an audio file which further explains the location and what should happen there.  For example, my school follows the EBS/PBS model for discipline, and one of the major components of EBS is the school matrix.  The school matrix outlines our code of conduct (Safe, Helpful, Awesome Attitude, Responsible, and Kind) and how it should be applied in various areas of the school (classroom, transitions, playground, assemblies etc…).  At the beginning fo each school year, or when new students arrive, QR codes could be placed in the above locations and linked to an audio files which would explain the matrix in detail.
  2. Student art gallery walk:- Any visual art lesson can be converted into a multimedia gallery type exhibition using QR codes.  For example, if my students are working on examples of op-art,  they can transform their 2-dimensional drawing into multi-sensory displays by attaching a QR code to the picture.  The QR code may then link to an audio file, which further explains the artwork.  In the audio file students can reflect on their work and use metacognition to express what was easy/difficult about the process.  They can also link their work to additional text and videos on the subject of op-art to encourage others to develope a deeper understanding of the concept.  Finally, students could assess each others work by recording feedback, creating a QR code and attaching it below the artwork.  Thus creating a comment section similar to a blog.
  3. QR Codes attached to homework:- Attach a QR code to your student’s place value homework which links to a video you made using Explain Everything (A video creation tool for the iPad).  The video can reinforce the skill of understanding the value of each digit in a number.  This has huge potential for occasions when support at home is not available.
  4. Guest Teachers:- Guest teachers who substitute in your room may feel more comfortable if they can follow some of the existing classroom rules/expectations.  QR codes could be place on the mobile computer lab, for example, to explain the rules of using the equipment.
  5. Student jobs:– In my classroom we share the responsibility for keeping the classroom clean and tidy.  QR codes could be place at various points in the classroom to reinforce what steps should be taken in order to make sure the bookshelf is fully cleaned, or to explain how to take attendance and where to take it when it’s completed.
I would welcome any additional ideas you have on how to use QR codes in the classroom.

Top 10 Teacher Tools List

Here’s my top ten tools list and how I use them.  They’re in no particular order.

  1. Google Documents – The ultimate collaboration tool for your PLN and your learners
  2. Twitter – Widen and enhance your PLN circle with this micro-blogging tool.  Superb tool for connecting with fellow educators.
  3. Diigo – Social bookmarking, highlighting, annotating, and research tool.  Use with learners or use with your PLN
  4. Bit.ly – Powerful URL shortener
  5. VoiceThread – Use it to enhanced/develop oral language skills, practice foreign languages, and useful for students with limited written output or LA students
  6. Skype – Connect your learners with professionals from around the globe, collaborate with classrooms across the nation, and interact with authors
  7. Wallwisher – Virtual sticky-note tool.  Use it as a formative assessment tool during a break
  8. Podomatic – Powerful and free podcast hosting tool
  9. WordPress – Powerful blogging tool which can be used as a reflection tool. Excellent for math journals
  10. Google Reader – Fantastic RSS feed-reader.  Let Google Reader do the work for you.  No longer need to spend time visiting all your favourite websites and blogs.  Google Reader brings them to you to read

Think a tool should have made the top 10?  Let me know your thoughts.

Tech Integration Post # 5 of 10: Health and Career Education 2.0

Grade 5 Health and Career Education Learning Outcome: Safety and Injury Prevention

C7 – describe safety guidelines to protect themselves and others from abuse and exploitation (e.g., knowing their right not to be abused, being assertive, avoiding potentially unsafe situations, practicing safe Internet use, recognizing tricks and lures used by predators)

Use a Flip camera, a video camera, a digital camera, or a mobile phone to video small groups of students acting out how to be safe online.  Try these topics or generate your own:

  1. Never hide Internet usage from your parents.  Always let them know when your online
  2. Never reveal personal information such as telephone number, address, last name etc…
  3. Never arrange to meet someone you’ve met online and don’t know, without your parents permission
  4. Cyberbullying
  5. Digital citizenship
  6. Protecting reputations online
  7. Digital privacy
  8. Safe talking in Cyberspace
  9. Handling E-mail and IM
  10. Safe Social Networking

Your learners may choose a topic and research, in depth, based on the information you’ve share with them or from information they have found independently.  They form a small group of three or four and complete the following tasks:

  • Sketch out a storyboard of the Internet/Online safety skit
  • Create a script of dialogue for the skit
  • Collect any props needed for the skit and practice until comfortable
  • Record the skit and edit using JayCut

Note: This is a cross-curricular activity and can be used for oral language practice as well as a writing exercise.
My Diigo links on Internet/Online Safety

Once your videos are complete your learners can use JayCut to upload and edit them.  JayCut is a free online video editing tool.  There is no longer a need to download expensive video editing software.  You can use JayCut from any computer with an Internet connection and the basic package is free.

When the videos have been edited by your learners they may be showcased at assemblies or shown to learners in younger grades and used as a teaching tool.  Older grades tend to put more effort into their work when the audience is larger and they know it’s being used for a higher purpose.

Feel free to let me know how it goes…

Tech Integration Post # 3 of 10: Using VoiceThread To Enhance Oral Language While Meeting Science Learning Outcomes

VoiceThread is a web2.0 tool that allows users to create and upload video, text, images, and audio (known as content) to a secure server from where anyone with access can interact with the content.  Think of it as an audio blog.

Grade 6 Science learning outcome: Earth and Space science – explain obstacles unique to exploration of a specific extreme environment.

Instructions On How To Create An Account:

How to create a VoiceThread:

How to create multiple identities:

In the PLO example at the top of the post, your students will find examples of extreme environments using images, video, or text.  They will use the audio feature to comment on the content by explaining why the chosen environment is extreme. Students will discuss why the environment is extreme, and what makes it difficult to life there.  Each student uploads a different example of an extreme environment and comments on their own thread as well as other class member’s threads.  This is great way to practice and assess oral language as well as introduce and practice science specific vocabulary.

Suggested Achievement Indicators (audio comments/responses) for this PLO are:

  • Identify the salient characteristics of an extreme environment (e.g., space, polar ice, oceans, volcanoes, and the atmosphere — a place that humans do not naturally inhabit but choose to explore)
  • Give several examples of resources and knowledge that can be obtained from distant explorations
  • Give several examples of how technology can be used by humans to travel to and explore an unknown environment

Efficient Google Search Techniques

Are your students getting the most out of Google search?  Probably not!  Here are some simple and efficient search techniques you could teach your students when searching/researching information on Google:

  • Phrase Search – by surrounding your search string with quotation marks (”Terry Fox Birthday”) you inform Google to search for the exact phrase in the exact order it appears between the quotation marks.
  • Wildcard (*) Search – using the wildcard (*) symbol in a search string allows Google to fill-in-blanks where it sees the wildcard symbol.  For example, the search, (Google *) will return results about many of Google’s products.
  • Exclude Search (-) – when searching, students may become inundated with results that are similar to the desired search result but are actually not useful.  For example, when searching for information on the big cat, jaguar, it is not useful for students to see search result relating to Jaguar motor-vehicles.  Use (-) directly before unwanted search string, (jaguar -cars)  Note: Multiple omissions can be made in the same string by using multiple minus signs, (bears -football -baseball -sports)
  • Search Specific Websites (site:) – Allows your students to search a specific website or group of websites for a phrase or string. For example, to search British Columbia’s government webpages on the environment use the following search string, (environment :.gov.bc.ca)
  • Definition (define:) – Uses Google to find the definition of unknown vocabulary words (define: unknown word)
  • The OR operator (OR) – Google’s default setting is to search for all words in a string. For example, the search string (Queen Elizabeth I II) will return results for both Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II on the same page.  The search string, (Queen Elizabeth I OR II) will return results on one or the other.
  • Calculator – Google may be used as a calculator by typing in a number sentence such as, (2*8).  Google will return the result 16
  • Unit conversion – Google search is also able to compute unit conversion.  For example the search string, (10cl to l) returns the result 0.1 litres

Here’s a link to a selection of useful Google poster’s you could print out and display in your room/computer lab, all about solid search practices: Google Posters

Readability: Declutter Webpages For Easy Reading

Roaming Educator screencast episode 1: Readability

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more about “Roaming Educator Screencast 1: Readab…“, posted with vodpod

Thanks to Jane’s Pick Of The Day, Jane Hart, I recently stumbled across browser add-on tool, Readability and I think it could have a profound impact on my learner’s ability to read cluttered webpages without being distracted.

All too often I’ve observed my learner’s distracted by a myriad of visual stimulants when trying to read online text, particularly when reading news online.  Readability is a simple tool which can be installed on the most popular browsers: Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.

Once installed, see tutorial above, one click of Readability button located in the toolbar area of your browser quickly removes all the distractions and presents the cleaned-up text in a format of your choice.  Your learner’s will be able to read online without being distracted and without the possibility of viewing inappropriate and unregulated content.

Give and try and let me know what you think.

Guest Post: Netbooks In The Classroom

Thank you to @MissBartel for being the first guest blogger to appear on Roaming Educator. You can reach Miss Bartel at suzannebartel (at) gmail (dot) com.

You can read the full article here: My Experience With Netbooks In The Classroom

Here’s the blog friendly version of My Experience With Netbooks In The Classroom:

Having a 30 netbooks in my classroom has increased not only my students engagement in learning but my own as well.  Seeing the students so excited about learning is inspiring. The netbooks have changed the way I teach and put ongoing professional development consistently at my fingertips.

Here is a summary of some of my challenges, successes and suggestions from the past year:


  • District Policy: My biggest challenge with the netbooks has been having to go through our District Tech team for any changes and updates.  As tech is not a priority in my district, many of these roles have been cut and the tech budget has been discarded.  I wait up to 3/4 months just to have a ‘flash’ application added or updated on the netbooks.  I meet a lot of resistance in this area – when I have a problem (like the sluggishly slow wireless speed when all 30 computers are being used) that If know is easily fixed, I am told that there is no solution and no attempt is made to help out.  It would be great if the District was willing to give the ‘Tech Teacher’ on each staff the ability to make some of these simple changes.
  • Windows Updates: Window’s updates now need to be initiated by us on each computer and this takes a lot of time.  (this ties into the District Policy challenge)
  • Screen Size: Small screens make ‘artistic endeavours’ such as movie making or picture editing difficult.
  • Internet Expectations: Setting clear expectations of allowable websites for students and maintaining this expectation for all students.
  • Staff Buy-in: Although It’s wonderful having the netbooks in my classroom all the time, I would love to see other teachers embrace them as well.  It has been a challenge to gain staff acceptance of this new technology available to them.

Greatest Successes

  • E-ngagelivewww.engagelive.net – I stumbled upon this website in my search for tips on teaching online safety.  Small groups of students interact through ’email like messages’ with ‘experts’ in the UK in regards to Internet Safety, Bullying and other topics like this.  I’ve never seen my class so engaged in reading, writing, collaborating and oral discussion with their peers.  An amazing experience!
  • Blogging with KidBlog – www.kidblog.org – A great place to host student blogs.  You can change the settings so that all comments/blogs must be approved by the teacher.  Very engaging for students.
  • Student Collaboration with Primary Pad – www.primarypad.com – I used Primary Pad as a collaboration tool with in my class as well as with a class in the UK.  The two classes were able to communicate and complete projects together using this website.
  • Professional Development
    • http://primarytech.globalteacher.org.au/tech-tools-for-teachers/ – This blog has a newsletter that you can sign up for that I have found extremely usefully.  Once a week they email you a newsletter about one web tool to use in your classroom.  It gives you step by step instructions that are easy to follow.  They’ve given me some great ideas for the classroom.
    • Twitter – I mentioned earlier, this is a great way to gain endless resources to use with your class.
  • Google Docswww.gmail.com Wow!  This has opened up my world of collaboration with students and colleagues!  I’ve used it to plan team teaching for engaging lesson with a colleague.  Students create their projects on here and then share them with me.  I edit student writing on Google docs, create online quizzes, teach data management using the forms, create online worksheets for students to complete – the possibilities are endless!
  • Other – other tools I’ve enjoyed using – Wordle, Voicethread, Rhyming Poetry, and Scratch (free animation creation software)

Suggestions for schools interested in using Netbooks

  • Bandwidth – Consider that you will have 30 students using wireless internet at the same time and make sure you have enough bandwidth to make this feasible    .
  • Permission to Change Netbooks – Have a staff member who has admin permissions and is capable of installing simple programs onto the netbooks all at once (ie. Windows updates, flash, screen readers, and open-source software etc…
  • Student Passwords – Use simple passwords for students!  This is important for primary students
  • Transportation of Computers – House the netbooks on a portable cart so that they are easily transported around the school and can be easily charged at the same time.
  • Teacher Training – Give a school-wide workshop about basics in teaching students how to use the netbooks or have a staff member go around to each class and team teach to help encourage others to use netbooks.  Not all teachers are comfortable with new technology and need to be shown how to use the technology and why it will be useful in their classes.

Engrade Canada: Turn Your Gradebook Online

I’ve struggled to find a suitable gradebook over the years.  What I look for in a gradebook is one which I can keep my marks up-to-date from more than one location, to calculate percentages based on my criteria, that is easily editable, and easy to use.  I’ve experimented with excelGradekeeper, and even old-fashioned paper without success.

Engrade meets all my needs and hopefully yours too.  Engrade Canada is hosted on servers in Canada and meets Canadian privacy laws.  More importantly Engrade Canada avoids U.S. Patriot laws.  This free online web service is marketed as a complete online classroom complete with gradebook, attendance, assignment calendar, progress reports, and safe online-messaging.

Primarily I use Engrade as an online gradebook because our secretary takes care of the attendance piece.  Next year I plan to utilize the assignment calendar and progress reports.  It’s so much more than a online gradebook though.  It’s possible for students and parents to login and view upcoming and outstanding assignments.  It also allows parents and students to see grades throughout the year.

As with all web2.0 tools it’s a really simple process to sign-up for an account.  Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.  I’d love to hear from you.  For those outside of Canada click here Engrade U.S.

Using YouTube To Enhance Your PLN

Yesterday I set up a YouTube account with my Gmail address and created my own YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/mrlistersd33

One of my goals for the channel is to create content to share with my PLN.  I intend to create short video’s of successful lessons, webcast’s to introduce and highlight new web 2.0 tools, video of students demonstrating effective use of technology in the classroom to, and examples of how to turn ‘offline’ activities ‘online’ to name a few.  I also plan to use the channel as place to store video’s that enhance my own professional development.  In other words, store and view video’s from educational experts I respect and follow.

Once you’ve created your YouTube channel you’re able to subscribe to other people’s channels.  In keeping with my theme of professionalism I only follow other educators or those closely connected to education.  When you’ve found the people you like to follow you can also invite people to follow you, through email.  Give permission, YouTube can access your email address book and contact some or all on the list, inviting them to follow you.

Here’s a couple of video’s that I found recently and remind me why it’s important to use technology in my classroom and move from deliverer of content to facilitator of content:


I’m off to my first Moodle workshop on Wednesday afternoon in Chilliwack.  Wade Gemmell (@wadegemmell), SD33 vice principal, is hosting the session and has provide attendees with space on one of the district servers hosting Moodle.

Moodle is a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a Free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites.  Moodle focuses on interaction and collaborative construction of content.

I’m looking forward to learning how to use Moodle to build online content.  How to add resources to Moodle.  Understand the differences between resources and activities, and find resources for my grade levels.  We also plan to set up some routines so we can continue the learning remotely via Elluminate.