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Unitag: Custom QR Code Generator

What it is: QR codes are becoming more and more prevalent in education and everywhere else (advertisements, TV, your bag of chips, soda, etc.).  These codes are easy to make and can lead to some fun learning opportunities.  Unitag is a QR code generator that lets you customize the look of the QR code.  First, choose a type of QR code to generate.  This can be a weblink, text, a business card, an email, a geolocation, a text message, a phone number, a calendar date, a wifi network, or a mobile page.  Next, you can customize the QR code with pre-made templates, personalized color palette, a special look, a logo or picture, “eye” colors, and more.  When you are finished, the QR code can be downloaded or shared on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.  This process could take seconds (it is SO fast to create) or several minutes depending on how fancy you like to get with your customizations. How to integrate Unitag into the classroom: So, what in the heck can you use those codes for?  A lot!  Use Unitag to create customized codes for back to school night; instead of sending parents with stacks of papers, offer a QR code by the door where they can snap a picture that takes them to your expectations/important dates/syllabus/special projects.  Include QR codes next to parent teacher conference signups so that parents can instantly upload the date to the calendar on their phone.  A QR code linked to your business card helps parents and students know what office hours you keep and how to keep in touch. For older students (who have a phone) offer QR codes to help them remember important dates, homework, special projects, etc.  This could be posted next to the door so that on their way in or out they can instantly snap a picture and have all of the upcoming assignments in their calendar. QR codes can be used by students to create choose your own adventure type stories.  The codes can link to different twists and turns within the story.  This would be fantastic for student created fiction but could also make a really cool book report.  Students could write one version summarizing the story as it was, a QR code could lead to an alternate ending that they created themselves. When studying history, QR codes could be used to show different angles of the same event, different outcomes depending on population…and how cool would it be if those QR codes were included on a map where the events took place?!  Students can link the QR codes to different views of the same event.  For example, one from the viewpoint of explorer Christopher Columbus and another from the point of view of Native Americans.  A QR code classroom timeline would also be very neat.  Students can create reports/content that is linked to a QR code that gets placed on a giant timeline.  Customize the code with images that are related to the event or colors that represent the event in some way. Create a bulletin board with a map of the world.  Place QR codes over different places for an interactive board.  Students can use the QR codes to reveal the name/capital/key features of the place. Have a secret clue or math problem each day that students can reveal using a QR code.  It sounds so simple, but honestly, students love the mystery and hidden challenge! In science, QR codes can be used at different stations to reveal the steps that students should follow for an experiment.  How about a periodic table of QR codes that reveal what each element does or a video that shows the element in action? At the beginning of last year, we created a school wide school scavenger hunt that used QR codes to help students learn where different classrooms/resources could be found.  It was great fun! Anytime you have a center activity, include a QR code that links to instructions, supplementary videos or websites.  This saves students from having to spend learning time typing in URLs or looking for directions that the last group wrote on or piled things on (or does that only happen to us?). Do your students create a LOT of digital work like ours do?  One of the challenges we face at Anastasis is the lack of worksheets going home.  I know…it doesn’t seem like that would be a challenge, but it is.  Parents aren’t quite sure where to look for their child’s work since it is all digital.  QR codes could go home in lieu of a Friday folder that link to student work. This time of year, it would be really neat to create a QR code advent calendar where students reveal some new piece of learning every day. Tips: I hope that your mind is racing with the possibilities these little codes offer.  There is something to the mystery of them that appeals to students, they are like unveiling a surprise.  Don’t keep all the fun of creating them to yourself, students can easily create these and use them within their work.  I honestly can’t think of a subject or discipline that these wouldn’t be useful in. Art: Share some art history or steps to an art project through a QR code. Foreign Language: Create a word bank wall that has QR codes that reveal the translation of the word. Geography: Create a map with QR codes that reveals additional information about the place. Government: QR codes that lead students to political cartoons and related learning. History: Exploring multiple points of view within a historical event. Language Arts: Choose your own adventure story creation. Math: Problem of the day.  Multiple methods for solving a problem.  Instructions for a math center activity. Music: An exploration of world music through QR code link/videos. PE: Links to examples of different exercises/warm ups. Phonics: Video library of phonemes through QR code. Science: Periodic table of QR codes with links to element information or videos. Apps for scanning QR Codes: QR Reader, Qrafter, QR Scanner, Scan, Red Laser, Quick Scan Pro, Quick Scan, ATT code scanner.  There are hundreds of these, search your app store for “QR code” and find the one that best fits your needs and device. Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Unitag in your classroom.

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Oxford Owl: free ebooks (with audio!)

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 23-07-2013

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Oxford Owl free ebooks: iLearn Technology

What it is: Oxford Owl is an incredible collection of free children’s ebooks for kids ages 3-11.  Each ebook has accompanying audio so that students can choose to read along, or read independently.  The books also have activities that focus on reading comprehension and story recall.  There are several options for filtering the ebooks so that students can find just the right story including by age, by book type, and by series.  In addition to the ebooks on the site, you can find fun activities and recommendations for each age group, games to print and play, and online games with characters from the books and site.

How to integrate Oxford Owl into your classroom:  I am a big fan of books.  Huge even.  It doesn’t matter where they reside, books make me happy.  It makes sense then, that Oxford Owl would be a squeal worthy site for me.  Free ebooks with audio you guys!  This site reminds me a little bit of Lookybook...I’m still lamenting its demise.

Oxford Owl is a great way to instantly expand your classroom library.  Books are leveled by age and include both fiction and non-fiction.  You will find biographies, dictionaries, fiction, myths and legends, non-fiction, phonics, picture books, poetry and books for struggling readers.   The stories that I went through were truly fun to read!  Use the books on Oxford Owl during reading time on classroom computers.  Students can choose a book to go through as a read along (SO very helpful when there are students who really need to read with a buddy, but the buddy situation is limited).   If you only have one or two computers in your classroom, get a headphone splitter and let students read together in small groups.  The related activities are a great way for students to self-monitor comprehension.  Students can also read these stories independently.  When I taught 2nd grade, I had a voracious reader who quickly read through all of the classroom books and was ready for more.  He was only allowed to check out from the library once a week (and usually those books went home) so I would have him use Lookybook.  Oxford Owl would open a whole other world of books for them to read!

We all have days where a few extra minutes to deal with a problem, set up for the next activity, etc.  Oxford Owl could be connected to your interactive whiteboard or projector for students to listen to a story while you get things sorted.  The whole class can enjoy the story together.  My students loved books on the IWB because they could all see the pictures and read along.  Oxford Owl is also ideal for that time of year when the germs settle in and the voice has gone on strike.

One of my favorite things to do in the classroom was reading with small groups of students.  It gave me the opportunity to give them the individual attention that they really deserved and let me get to know them as readers better.  But…what to do with the rest of the class?  I assigned tub work that students could complete independently.  The tubs were centers related to what we were learning during the week.  Each tub contained all the necessary materials that students would need.  This was independent learning they could work on while I was with the small groups.  Oxford Owl would make a great addition to the “tub” work.  Students could visit the computer center and choose some books to read and play the associated games.

Tips:  Now for the unfortunate news: Oxford Owl is flash-based.  BOO! Not ideal at all for a classroom full of iPads like we have at Anastasis.  Luckily, there is a solution.  There are several Flash Browsers that you can download for the iPad to view flash content.  My favorite is Rover (because it is filtered and created for kids!).  If your network is well filtered, I would also recommend iSwifter and Photon.

P.S. We Give Books is another outstanding place to find free ebooks!

P.S.S. Hat Tip to The Techie Classroom- an outstanding blog to add to your reader if it isn’t already there!

Comments (2)

[…] Tips: If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Oxford Owl Literacy site. […]

What a great resource for classroom teachers. Finding FREE eBooks is hard to do, not to mention books related to technology topics! Oxford Owl looks to be pretty amazing, minus the flash part. Here’s a great eBook collection to add to those resources mentioned above. Also, these books are PDF so they work great on iPads!

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