"Do we have to go to fitness today Mrs Moore—can’t we just stay doing this…" The room was buzzing with excitement as the children engaged in learning with QR codes.
QR codes are a barcode-like image where QR stands for “quick response”. They can be read by most devices with a web camera, and almost anything can be turned into a QR Code, including a short piece of text, and contact details such as a website or email address, or phone numbers.
The QR code reading app that we downloaded for free on the iPod touch for this activity was QRReader from the Apple apps store. If you would like more information about QR codes, check out this previous post.
Room 23 Whangarei Primary
As an introduction to QR codes, we wanted to show the children a variety of ways in which they can be used. As Tara wasn’t physically with us in the classroom, she recorded a podcast to connect with the children in a virtual way. This was also an opportunity to show one of the ways QR codes can be used to access data, with a QR code that linked straight to Room 23’s blog, demonstrating a quick way of accessing websites. The children were very surprised to see their blog come up on the iPod Touch!
We also utilised a YouTube clip made by a child talking about how they used QR codes in their class. Thanks to Allanah King and an idea from her blog we were also able to introduce the idea of using QR codes for story writing. The highlight for the children was scanning a QR code and discovering their name and the names of class friends. The iPod Touches were provided for our activity, but having seen the success and range of ways in which these cn be used, the school has now purchased their own set.
This might sound like loads of fun, but what learning is actually happening here for the children? It ws clear the students were strengthening a range of skills and knowledge:
- They were learning how to use the technology to access new content.
- Literacy sklls were evident as the children read, interpreted and create their own codes.
- The increased engagement from the reluctant readers and writers was noticed by the classroom teacher.
- There was also much lively talk between the students about the patterns formed by the codes.
- They noticed that more text creates more complex code, as they compared their names.
As we know enabling meaningful collaboration is essential, and the teamwork shown by the children in this learning opportunity was very noticeable, including the turn taking within the groups (5 children to 1 iTouch), and a real sense of ‘fairness’ as groups organised the way they would work.
A highlight for me was the children’s respect for the ‘tools’. Because of her total trust in the children, it wasn’t until the end of the session that teacher Katarina Moore realised she hadn’t discussed the cost of the tools, and the need for being careful. This care had already happened automatically and I felt very proud to feed this reflection back to the children.
After much fun and experimenting, scanning and reading QR codes, our next step was to create our own codes. A quick ‘how to’ and the children were away! The children were already thinking about other ways they could utilise QR codes as they worked, as well as trying to come up with ideas for how they could get iPod Touches for their class!
Where to next?
Because the junior school at Whangarei Primary School have been learning about Pirates, and our idea is for them to create a QR code treasure hunt for the junior classes. The children in Room 23 have been given the mission of creating this treasure hunt. In teams, they are working on developing their clues utilising pirate language. They are reading pirate stories to give them ideas and inspire their creativity. We look forward to sharing this treasure hunt in a blogpost soon.
We would love to hear any other ideas teachers have used in their classrooms with QR codes.
Check out this QR code that was sent to me at the end of the session.
Tania Coutts is an Early Years facilitator for the Northland region. She is a registered early childhood teacher with extensive experience in the sector, having taught in both kindergartens and early childhood centres for over 20 years in Northland. Tania is well known nationally for her practice in integrating ICT for teaching and learning and for engaging whanau and the wider community.