Friday, May 4, 2012

QR Code Problem Solved

Every Wednesday I use the iPad cart with my Algebra 1 students.  The cart limits the types of activities that I can do with my students because the iPad is designed to be used by one individual.

One application I keep using with the iPads is QR Codes.  In my previous post on QR codes, I was frustrated that I was unable to have math type font in any of my QR codes.  I was able to link simple text or links to websites that hosted worksheets or math problems, but I was hoping that students would just scan a code, then a math problem would appear on the screen of the iPad.  After weeks of searching for a solution, I found it!

With the help of the my new Macbook Pro and Grab utility, I was able to capture math problems that I either created in my own documents or that are already published on the web or worksheets.  I found a website called to host my images for free.  Then used the QR code creator Kaywa to link to the image sites.   

To capture an image on a Mac, save it and then upload it:
  1. Bring up a picture or document on the front of the computer screen.
  2. Go into Finder (Mac) and chose Grab under the Utilities menu.
  3. While the Grab is open, go the Capture menu and chose Selection.
  4. Use the selection tool to take a snapshot of your desired object on the screen.
  5. A box will pop up with the image that was captured.
  6. Go to the File menu while the image is still open, and choose Save.
  7. Save the file to wherever you usually save. 
  8. Open up (see image up to right)
  9. Click on Choose File and click Upload.
Your file is now hosted on the website!

To turn your images that are hosted on into a QR code:
  1. Go back to the webpage that is hosting your image and copy the URL.
  2. Open up any QR creator website.  I use Kaywa. (see right)
  3. Paste the URL into the space provided.
  4. Chose the size you want the QR code to be and click Generate.
  5. Click on the QR Code and it will open up in a new window.
  6. Print the page.

I used the above process to create nine different QR codes containing nine different math problems for this past Wednesday's class.  I taped the QR codes around the room to get the kids up and moving.  Each of my students used a QR code reader app on the iPad to scan each code.  Some students used another app to solve the problems, while other students used paper.  

At the end of the class I did a quick formative assessment, using the Exit Ticket from the Socrative App, to see if the students understood the material practiced.  

I thought the class was a success, and I was able to figure out my QR code dilemma!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

This Can't Be a Good Sign

I attended the NCTM national conference in Philly this past week.  Overall it was a great experience, but I have to say that I was a bit unimpressed by the use of technology by my comrades.

The picture above is the perfect example of what I am talking about.  Do teachers still use overhead projectors?  Maybe I am spoiled at my school with the wonderful resources that I am provided with.  Is there a logical reason to prefer this "device?"  Many presenters used Powerpoint with slides containing words and some pictures.  Why not use a more dynamic piece of software or application to present material such as:
Why not engage the audience using their own devices with things like:
There are so many unbelievable things happening with the world of technology and education right now.  So much information is available for free - both on the internet or through Edcamp conferences that are happening all around the country.  Other places such as Twitter and Facebook are hotspots for educators who are building their PLN (Personal Learning Network).

In Philly there were some fabulous sessions on collaboration, problem solving, student centered learning, and formative assessment.  Although the use of technology during the sessions was minimal, there was one session that blew my mind where a Kinect and math created software were used teach many math topics.  Although I am a BIG Apple fan, here is one reason that Microsoft may have won my attention back a little bit.  Check out for more information.  The short clip here does not do this amazing software justice.

I am left wondering if I should present a proposal, for next year's NCTM conference, on how to integrate technology into the classroom.  Nothing math specific, but based on pedagogy, teaching and learning...and no overhead projector.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

QR Codes & Math

I am ready to do more with QR codes to use with my Algebra students, but I have hit a wall.  How do you create a QR code that displays one math equation or expression that contains exponents and other math symbols?

I have come across some ways to create QR codes - different apps and websites, and also using Google docs.  Today I came across Tammy Worcester's blog that explains how to create QR codes using Google docs - specifically using a spreadsheet.  I thought, "Here it is!  Here is the place where I will be able to create text for a QR code with math symbols."

Here is what my test run spreadsheet looked like:

It didn't work as I had hoped.  Bummer.  When I scanned the top QR Code, the word "hello" showed up without a problem.  When I scanned the bottom QR Code, this is what I saw:

Not only can you not do exponents in the actual spreadsheet, but the PLUS sign doesn't not show up when scanned.

So, I am back to the drawing board and will continue my search to integrate math with QR codes.  If anyone out there has any ideas or thoughts on this issue, I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Traveling Tuesday

This is going to be a pretty low tech post, but hopefully you will see that it is just as relevant to the way my teaching has changed this past year.

After reading Brain Rules by John Medina in the summer of 2011, I realized that my students were sitting glued to their seats while they either listen to me or work with their classmates.  Medina suggests a set of rules to maximize brain power.  Although the rules all have significant connections to teaching and learning, the ones that seemed most fitting to my teaching are:
  • Rule #1 - Exercise boosts brain power 
  • Rule #4 - We don't pay attention to boring things.
  • Rule #9 - Stimulate more of the senses.
So since the beginning of the school year I have been trying to keep Tuesdays sacred as the day for my students to do something kinesthetic.  After doing the regular class routine of answering homework questions and a few more problems on a new or review topic, I ask the students to get up and walk around the room and solve the problems that I have taped to the walls, and sometimes the ceiling.  Some students grab a clipboard, others do their work in their own math notebook while most of the students choose to use a whiteboard tablet and marker.  The math problems are numbered, usually no more than ten, and students can start any where in the room at any number as long as they complete all of the problems.  While the students walk around to each problem, I get to observe them in a different way then I usually do.  I get to see who and how they work together.  I walk around answering questions and giving hints.  I find this activity gives me more opportunities for formative assessment.  Once the students complete the problems, they correct their answers to the solutions that I have projected to the Smartboard.

I took a picture of this week's Traveling Tuesday questions.  Some of my students requested that I make colorful hearts to attach to the walls in honor of Valentine's day.  When I walked in the room with the hearts I announced, "These are your valentines."

Here is the only tech part of this blog entry.... I took a picture of the hearts with my ipad and used the app Phoster to create the poster/picture below:

I am aware that although this activity is nothing more than a worksheet cut up and pasted around the room, it allows my students to use their brains differently then they usually do.  The topics that I cover are traditional math topics but taught and reviewed in a student centered, formative environment.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

QR Code Mini Scavenger Hunt

Today I had all three of my Algebra classes use ipads to do a QR Code mini scavenger hunt.  (QR code stands for Quick Response Code.)  It was great!

I used the website to create a scavenger hunt.  I entered the data into a text box and the website created the directions and QR codes for me.  It was so easy!

Here is the one that I created after we studied many topics (but not all) relating to linear functions:

I had been talking about QR codes with them for a while, but hadn't given too much information on them.  So I began each class by showing this video:

How to Use QR Codes - cnet

Then I explained that the QR codes that I created for today's class were actually not web-based but in fact they were math questions encoded in the QR code itself.  This means that no internet access was used to view the questions stored in the QR code.

Since this was my first attempt to use QR codes with my students, I wanted to start slowly.  So instead of posting the QR codes that we were going to use around the school building, I put two on each table group in the classroom.  Students used an app called Scan, which is free.  There are many more apps that also work equally well.

I should also mention that my students do not have their own devices for school use.  Students used school provided iPads from an iPad cart.  They still had to find a place to solve the problems either on paper or in another app.  Students who used another app, like a drawing program, were able to take a screen shot of each problem that they scanned and open the problem in that app. They would then solve the problem.  (I found this to be a minor challenge for me as the teacher because I didn't want any pictures stored in the iPads when my other classes were going to do the same activity. If only they had their own devices!) Other students used pencil and paper.

I projected the answers towards the end of class and students corrected their own answers.  The entire time I was able to walk around and answer questions, and give my students some individual attention.  Overall I think it was a success, and I plan on doing even more with QR codes in the future.