Saturday, May 30, 2015

Business Cards with QR Codes for Teachers

So after my previous QR code success, I thought I might try something new with them.  I had seen how to use one to link to your end-of-the-year video by printing the QR code on a cute card and sending it home with students on the last day.  While I really like that idea, I thought using a QR code might be a good way to get my students' families to use my district website more regularly.  So I used VistaPrint to create business cards for each member of my first grade team.  Each card has a QR code to our respective district websites. We will put magnets on the back and send them home next fall.

I used my First Grade Top Dog clip art from this blog. Other art used on our cards included Elephant, Piggie, and the Pigeon by Mo Willems, Rocket by Tad Hills, and Little Critter by Mercer Mayer.  I knew the clip art on my blog was free, so no infringement there.  But I wasn't sure about Rocket.  So I googled the author, found his publisher's website, and emailed him asking permission.  I got a response the next day.  And it was a WEEKEND!  He was fine with it as long as we weren't making any money or putting Rocket in any "embarrassing positions."  It was so fun to be connected to the real author of Rocket!  He suggested a copyright note under the picture, which was no big deal.  We even sent him a picture of the finished product for approval.  How cool is that?  The image by Mo Willems already had his signature, and I added Mercer Mayer's copyright.  Take a look!

They were so fun to make and turned out so cute!  I wish you could see them in real life.  I can't wait to hand them out.  My hope is that families will stick them to the refrigerator and scan them at least once a week to get my weekly newsletter, homework updates, our monthly calendar, book order info or download some of our favorite math game materials.  Our phone numbers and email addresses are right there too!  So convenient!

We each bought 100 cards for $7.99.  That's enough cards for at least three school years.  I used the code VPBC100 to get 50% savings!  If you order with your team, you can share the shipping costs, although it wasn't much at all.  I think it'll really pay off in the long run!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

QR Codes from Vocaroo

I recently learned how to create QR codes.  A teammate and I were meeting with our district UDL specialist to get ideas on how to teach our CTC "Read Across Genres" unit so that ALL our students could participate fully.  In this unit, the class creates "topic tubs" which include a variety of genres all based on the same topic.  Our problem:  what to put in the tubs for our below-first-grade readers.

Well, problem solved!  Just go to the website called Vocaroo, record yourself reading a few of the books, poems, or Scholastic News in the tubs, create QR codes, print them, tape them to the front of the book, and make sure those kids have an ipod or ipad to scan and listen with. Amazing!  My ipad and ipods have the free app called i-nigma, which reads the code with the camera.  Students then click the link that appears that says, "go online."  Vocaroo opens with just that particular recording.  Students push the play button and they're ready to go!

When you go to Vocaroo, you'll click to record, and then a popup box will ask if you'll allow them access to your microphone and camera.  You can put a sticky note over your camera if you wish.  As soon as you click "allow," the recording begins.  So make sure you have your book ready!  You can't stop and start.  If you get interrupted, you'll have to start over.  When you get to the end of the book, click "stop recording."  You will then get the option to create a QR code.  Once you've created it, copy and paste it into a word document and type the title underneath.  You can get at least a dozen QR codes onto one page.  Then print, cut, tape, and you're ready!

Scan this code to hear me read the book!

My students really enjoyed being able to "read" books in their topic tubs.  I have four ipods and two kids who needed the QR codes.  With two kids per tub, I just made sure two ipods were in the tubs of the kids that needed them.  That way, their partners could use them too, and they wouldn't be so obvious.  I don't think any of the other students even realized which kids they were for.  Perfect!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Free Teacher Accounts with Animoto

Have you tried Animoto?  It's a great website for creating videos.  I signed up for a free two-week trial, and while getting that set up, I saw something that said teachers can apply for a free classroom account.  Hmmm?  Free you say? Sign me up!

It was so easy to sign up for a free trial and then apply for a free teacher/education account.  I was approved instantly.  And using the website is SO EASY.  You just upload your pictures, and then you get to pick your background style, your music, how fast the pictures change, the order of the pictures, and to which pictures you add captions.  Rearranging pictures is easy, too.  You just drag and drop them where you want them.  After producing your video, you can choose to upload it to youtube, facebook, email a link, etc.  I'd really love to show you how it turned out, but it shows my students' faces. You can see what a finished video looks like by watching the video I whipped up with pictures of my dogs... just to share with you!

Click HERE to see my silly puppies (the original Top Dogs).

I used the same background and music as I used for my class this year.  So cute!  I'll be humming this tune for the next few days.  It took me only 12 minutes to make this video of the dogs, and that's because I added captions. Just imagine the end-of-year video you could put together to share with your students' families.  Ahhh, memories!

Go check out the animoto website and get started.  I'm so excited that my free teacher membership is good for one year.  You should get one too!