By her own admission, Artondale Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Teresa Butler isn’t a technology junkie, but she’s finding interesting ways to integrate technology into her classroom.
Her latest idea was to use QR codes in the classroom. The barcode-like symbols are found everywhere from grocery stores to magazines, and most smartphones or similar devices have applications that allow users to scan the codes. The code contains data, and once it’s scanned, it links to a specific webpage.
“I just started looking at apps and brainstorming ideas for a one-iPad classroom, and I just came up with the QR code idea,” Butler said. “Those are literally everywhere. I took notice that they were on real estate fliers. Since I’ve made use of them from clicking on them, I thought, ‘Oh, how can I use this for the classroom?’”
Butler’s first idea was to have the QR codes link to videos of the students doing book talks. After some deliberation, she decided videos might make some parents uncomfortable, so she decided on audio clips.
Butler pinned each student’s picture on a bulletin board along with a QR code that links to their oral book review online. If students are looking for a good book to read, they can go the board with the classroom iPad and listen to the reviews of their peers.
“If kids ask me for book reviews, I can say, ‘Go check the board,’ ” Butler said.
Butler said she hopes the technology will increase students’ enthusiasm for reading. She also said she wants to empower kids to begin to use the technology and to think of how they can use it creatively.
“I thought, by exposing kids to this technology, I would be empowering them to use their own creativity for using the codes,” Butler said. “I want my students not to just be excited about using technology, but to begin to see themselves as being able to take part in the creative process as they extend existing ideas with technology.”
Butler’s desire to foster a creative environment goes beyond the codes. She has her students do a Prezi presentation — cloud-based presentation software similar to PowerPoint. She gives them login information, but that’s it. Her students take it from there.
By allowing them to learn how to use the software on their own, students produce things creatively, Butler said.
“They teach other,” she said. “I don’t use any class time, they show each other. Being able to create with technology instead of just gathering information is what we’re going to be needing from our kids.”
Butler said she plans to use the QR codes for math vocabulary next, and she wants to incorporate the codes with her new classroom website.Reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.