Here! Hear!

In full disclosure, this post comes with heavy coaching from an amazing teacher we met at the August Reading Institute,  Alli Newell. Alli teaches in California at a school that values and supports technology in the classroom. She generously shared her tech knowledge with other first grade teachers in her section, and we wanted to pass on one tool that has huge applications in the primary classroom, for charts and beyond. Thank you Alli!

You know those codes – they are black and white – and are everywhere! You can scan them with an ipad or iphone, or just about anything with an app. And those codes bring you to some sort of content (usually trying to sell you something). They look like this:

A Sample QR Code

Alli taught us how we can make those codes and attach them to audio content.

Consider this for a moment… All one has to do is scan this code with some sort of device, be it an iphone, ipad, or other app-enabled piece for equipment and it will talk to them. Now imagine: what if you put this code next to a display of children’s writing, so parents could scan and hear their children reading the story? What if you placed it next to a display of student art and someone could walk by and scan the code to hear children talking about the process? What if you attached it to a book and made every book a book on tape? Just imagine, what could you use it for in reading workshops? Writing workshops? Homework?

The one catch is that to create and listen to the QR codes, one needs access to some sort of smart phone, tablet, or computer. Think though for a moment. How many families in your school have access to a smart phone? We know in some communities, computers and tablets are not as accessible to children outside of school, but smart phones may be more common. On the other hand, in some schools iphones may be banned, but many schools now have a bank of tablets that classrooms can borrow, and if not, there are many grants available to support technology in schools. We have worked in a number of schools that have gotten ipads through grant writing.
We imagine this first as a powerful tool for parents, QR codes on homework, student writing, bulletin board displays, etc, and as the year goes on, finding other smart ways to make this a meaningful scaffold for students: directions in a center, an audio post-it, a book on tape, an additional reminder on a chart… the possibilties feel endless! We are sure you have even better ideas, so once you learn how to use these tools, let us know what happens!

Step One: Download the Apps

You will need two apps: QRafter Pro ($2.99) and Audioboo (free)

Download these two apps

Step Two: Record Audio Content

Open audioboo and click record on the homescreen, it will bring you to this screen:

It will only record about 3 minutes at a time, and you can pause and resume recording at any point. Once you have captured the audio you would like (say a child reading his or her writing), hit publish. You will be prompted to name it, let’s say “Kristine’s Book” and then save and upload the recording. You then go to ‘My Boos’ and select one of your recordings. It will bring you to this screen: (Kristine recorded in Greenpoint- hello to fellow Brooklynites!)

Click on the upper right hand corner (box with arrow shooting out) to save it online. You will get several options, Alli suggests saving in Safari. To get there, clink on “More…” and choose Safari.

This will bring you to the internet where your recording now happily lives, and you are ready for the next step – generating a QR code that will play this recording for people. Before you open QRafter, take a moment and copy the whole URL from the top of the webpage. URL codes start with http://

Step Three: Attach a QR Code

Once you have copied the URL, go to your home screen and open up the QRafter Pro app. It opens with option to scan an already existing QR code, go to “create” on the bottom menu instead. It will want to know where the content is:

Click on URL, and it will prompt you to enter the URL. Just click in the space and paste the URL you copied from before:

Delete the extra “http://” and then select “preview content” from the upper right hand corner. This will show you all sorts of technical information that no one really needs to know, but from there, hit create in the upper right hand corner. This will generate a unique black and white QR code. Alli recommends saving it to your photos, and from there you can print it or email it. That’s it!

To see what happens when you scan it, use your Qfactor app on the one below (You can do it on the computer)

It will let you know you have lined the code up right by bringing you to the URL page. Click on “Go to URL”  under actions and hit play once you get there.

So, just to recap how to:

“Make it talk!”

  1. Open audioboo & click “Record”
  2. Record (3 mins)
  3. Publish
  4. Name it, save it, upload it!
  5. Go to MyBoos & click arrow (upper right corner), then “More…” & save to Safari
  6. Copy URL

“Make Your Own QR Code!”

  1. Open the QRafter Pro app
  2. Click on URL & paste URL
  3. Delete extra “http://” & select “preview content”
  4. Hit “create” (upper right corner)
  5. Save it to your photos

We’d love to hear how you innovate with this technology in the upcoming year. Our deepest thanks to Alli Newell for teaching us about this tool. Until next time, Happy Charting!

Kristine Mraz and Marjorie Martinelli