Monday, August 27, 2012

QR Wonderful! (part 2)

So excited this morning when a former teacher, now administrator, shared with me her use of a QR code in a handout for her parents! It linked them to the campus Facebook page where information is posted almost daily. Great use of the code! I would love for others to share ways you have used codes.

You know how to scan now, so how do you create your own codes? There are many ways. I will show you a couple of sources that I use.

I recommended the use of i-nigma as an app on your phone because it has been one of the best I have used, but I also love the website. It allows you to create your own QR codes for websites, text messages, and general information! There are others that do the same such as, and QR Code Generator. I think it all comes down to personal preference, so you may want to check out these others and see which one you like best.

You will notice the format in i-nigma is very easy. You choose whether you want your QR Code to take the scanner to a website link, an embed code, your contact details, or an SMS (text message).  I do prizes sometimes in my sessions and will have cards with QR Codes on them with "Winner", or a variety of  "You have a winning attitude, but you did not win a prize today!". Teachers love to scan and see if they win something. When I set it up this is what it looks like. I then right click on my code and save the image. If you give it a title, it will save the title within the image, so I usually don't give it a title and just name it when I save it.

This is what the person scanning the code sees on their phone!

Another way I create QR codes is using a Chrome extension. If you use Chrome as a browser, you simply go to your Chrome Web Store and search for QR Code Generator - there are dozens! If you use a URL shortener often then you might consider the URL Shortener. Not only does it provide a URL shortener but a QR code as well.
Those are the two most common ways I create codes! This week I want you to try creating two codes, one for a website and one for a message!  Feel free to share with me. You can email your codes to me at Only share if you don't mind my using it in my blog at some point possibly!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

QR Wonderful! (part 1)

This is one of a series on QR codes.  If I put it all in one post, I am afraid you would not read it! I know I probably would not. I was able to do a few sessions on campuses last year with QR Codes and all of the teachers really seemed to enjoy it. Some put what they learned to use immediately, and many have asked for a refresher session on it. Hopefully, you will be able to begin using QR Codes educationally by the time this series is finished!

Many of you are probably still wondering what is all the excitement about QR Codes. The answer to that is that with one scan of a code you can have various types of information at your fingertips! What exactly are QR codes? Here is a simple explanation:

You now need to download an app for a scanner. There are many scanners out there, and most are free. My favorite scanner so far is i-Nigma. It seems to run the fastest, the easiest, and is available for almost all SmartPhones. I also like this app because the website is very user friendly when it comes to creating your own codes, but we will discuss that in a later session. So go download a scanner so you can practice using it with the code below!

 You should have seen this blog show up on your phone when you scanned it! This was linked to a website, but you can link to prepared messages by you, text messaging, and contact info.

Until Part 2 of this series, I want you to look around for QR Codes and scan them to see what type of information you might find. You might be surprised!  Some common places you might find QR Codes:
  • in magazines - usually lead to websites of the product, or more information about something on the magazines page
  • on posters - saw one in my doctor's office that led to a health and wellness website or to purchase tickets for an event
  • on plant tags - take you to information about how to care for that plant
  • business window - leads to business website, facebook, twitter, or other social media
  • business cards - gives you contact info you can add to your phone
What are some other sites you have found codes on and where did they lead you? I found one on a watermelon this summer! Care to guess where it led?

Part 2: Creating your own QR Codes


Friday, August 17, 2012

Skype in the Classroom

How exciting to be able to connect with others around town, across states, or even in other countries! Skype is a simple tool that can enrich your lessons, engage your students, and connect your class to places and people they may never get an opportunity to go or meet.

Introducing Skype in the classroom from Skype in the classroom on Vimeo.

Teachers in our district have successfully used Skype! From connecting with a couple in Peru about geography and culture, talking with a professor on a ship in the Antarctica, and even skyping with local businesses our students are always in engaged in this activity. They love being able to ask questions of the "experts"!

There are authors who will Skype, some for small fees and some for free. Visit "Skype an Author Network" to find out more.

Skype has provided "Skype in the Classroom" as a way to find experts and other classes to Skype. If you are looking for an expert you would simply complete the fill in with a subject and it will provide a list of possible connections.

If you create a project and would like to include Skyping opportunities, you can add your project to the Skype in the Classroom project section where other classes can read and join. You can also go there to find a project for your students to participate in if you are not quite ready to branch out with your own. 
There are unlimited possibilities for using Skype in the Classroom! Please share any opportunities, ideas, and thoughts about ways you have used or plan on using Skype in the Classroom. Other teachers/readers would love to hear!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Exceeds the size limit? Not anymore!

How many times have  you started to email a file and suddenly you get a pop up that says the file is too large? Many email services limit the amount or types of files you can attach. I am currently limited to 25MB and cannot attach any executable files. While checking out the Navasota ISD Pinterest page the other day, I came across a pin by another follower. solves this problem! Without creating an account you can share files up to 250MB, and by creating an account you can share up to 2GB.....all for FREE! I tested it out using a video and an executable file. You simply drag and drop your file into the designated area and then it produces a link to paste into your email. The recipient simply clicks on the link and saves the file. Each file is stored for 7 days allowing the recipient(s) time to download.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tagxedo - Word Cloud Creator with some UMPH!

Tagxedo is not just another word cloud creator! It has lots of bells and whistles that some of the others don't have, and we all know that educators like LOUD bells and LOTS of whistles! Upon clicking on the home page of Tagxedo you will see:

Notice, you already have lots of options! My favorite is (1) URL! You can add a web address and make a word cloud out of it, or you can click Start Now in the upper left and put in your own text! Then you have more bells and whistles to choose from!

Here is a picture of this blog in Tagxedo! Of course, I will change some of it because I can! Notice under RESPINS, you have the options to change the color, theme, font, orientation, layout, or all of it! I want my colors to be similar to the colors in my blog, so I can respin until I find them or I can click on the arrow by theme and pick one from a list. Now under options, I go to Word/Layout and choose some words I want to skip (like my initials JAM, comments, and posts).  Last but not least, I want to pick a shape for my word cloud!

For those of you who know me well, you know a coffee cup fits me. However, I imagine you sitting back with a cup of coffee reading this post, and thinking "I want to try this!" Have fun with Tagxedo! Please share in the comment section ideas for using in your classroom.

UPDATE:: A teacher sent me a Tagxedo she did for her classroom that features the Junior High activities of the campus where she teaches. They are known as the Fangs, so the snake shape is appropriate! Just had to share!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Goggle for Google!

Yes, our district loves Google! Well, at least most of the staff does! I have teachers say that, but once they understand how things work they quickly become fans.  We have found so many benefits in using Google Apps with not only the staff but our students as well.  Students have taken the initiative to submit homework through their Google Mail accounts, collaborate with each other on Science and History Fair projects, vote for officers using the Form created in Google by a teacher, and much, much more. We even had a parent complain because their child was monopolizing the home computer completing and submitting homework through email!

Google is "ever changing"! They often provide surveys as a way to see what is working, what is needed, and to get input from users. This year they have switched from what we know as "Google Docs" to "Google Drive". What is the difference you may ask? Here is a short video that explains!

Hopefully this video helped you understand some of the changes you will see!