Thursday, June 25, 2015

QR codes in Kinder

Greetings Everyone,
It is officially summer time! Every year I pledge to try and take a month off of school. This entails mostly no going into the school, but also no working on things for the next year as well. It may seem a little extreme but it is necessary for me to keep my sanity. Additionally, it allows me time to reflect on the previous school year and make notes about what I am going to change. I know that the reflection process can lead very easily into the planning stage. So I make notes of what I am wanting to accomplish in the next year, so I don’t break my own rules.

One of the big things on my list is QR codes. This last year I began learning about qr codes. I have seen them on posters, at grocery stores, and on Pinterest, but just started really learning about and using them this year. Part of the huge push for me was that my school is transitioning to a STEM school and this year our focus was on Technology and math. As part of the transition we were blessed with a grant that allowed us to purchase Chromebooks carts for 2nd-6th grade and 5 tablets for each K-1 classroom. As I was looking at ways to really make my new technology beneficial for my students and more than games, I ran into a lot of interesting blog posts and tweets about QR codes.

Using the QR codes was a great way to go beyond using the tablets as a gaming or time filler device to a teachable device. I started out by researching QR scanning apps and with the help of the Google Play for Education market was able to easily find the QR scanner app. Once the app was pushed out to my tablets. I taught my kinders about Qr codes. I talked about how it allows you to scan a code and then see something from the code, it can be a video, a word, a math problem, or a picture. I then showed students how to get to the QR scanning app and then pulled up a QR scanning document found for free on TPT from Smorgasboard. 
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I had my 25 kiddos line up and one by one scan on of the QR codes on my desktop with the tablet. The code produced a subtraction problem which we were learning about in class at the time and then they had to answer the problem to pass it on to the next person. Once they were done they went and worked with manipulative at their seats to practice subtraction.

After this lesson, my students started looking for and seeing QR codes everywhere. They wanted to scan every QR code they found. So we had to set some rules, as we found the QR scanner at times would let them bypass the filter and get to things like Amazon. The rule became unless we have talked about using QR codes for class then we don’t scan QR codes we find without permission.

Seeing my kinders excitement over using QR codes I decided to try and find another free TPT Qr document I could use in class. I found this cute document that had them scan a code and then would link it to a private secure Youtube channel of a celebrity reading a children’s book. I was so excited to get the codes and use them in class. I printed using the color printer and laminated them. I had them all set out and reviewed with my kiddos about how to use the QR scanner. I set it out as a center during my small group time. I ran this center to help ensure that I could handle any glitches that arose while the students were trying it for the first time. Luckily, I had done this as we instantly ran into the filter and I had to login in to my personal account to override the filter. Unfortunately, this took me approximately 20+ minutes to override each one. I called my IT and realized that they were not aware of what a QR code was or how it was used. A little deflated after this interaction with my IT department I stopped using QR codes.

A couple months went by and I was getting ready to participate in the Google Education onAir, where I participated in a class on QR codes. Seen here: It was super inspiring to be able to see how easy it can be. A couple weeks later we were having a group of educators from the district come and see how technology was used within the classroom at our school. I made up some sight word QR codes using Google sheets like shown in the training video. I just printed them on paper and taped them around the room and I created a simple document to accompany the QR codes, where students would write their sight words they found. I again reviewed how to find the QR scanner with my students, and showed them that the print may be really small. When the visitors showed up and my small groups where running, my kinders were working like boss’. They were scanning and writing excitedly. They pulled the adults into show how the scanner worked and then the process they were doing and why they were doing it. I was a proud little teacher. Kinders I had worked all year with that struggled to write or explain a process where now fully engaged.
As I reflect back on this moment of awe, I was determined to use QR codes more in this next upcoming year. Hoping to continue to inspire and innovate the thinking of my kinders. I was also thinking about using them: at the beginning of the year for back to school parent nights, helping to get my kiddos to websites for working on the tablets, and much more.

Please feel free to comment and let me know about your QR experiences or  if you would like help with starting QR codes.

Enjoy the summer,