Tuesday, October 25, 2011

QR Codes Part 8: Wrapping Up! More Ways to Use QR for SLPs

This series has been really fun to write, and I appreciate all the feedback!  It's been busy here with all this content- November will be a little slower! I have several presentations scheduled and have to start writing evals! This final post (for now) in this series deals with a bunch of ideas on how to use QR as suggested recently by some SLPs and other educators.

For a ready-made halloween lesson plan for kids in upper elementary, MS or perhaps HS, please check out my crossover post on the Mindwing Concepts Blog.  It features a spooky story broken down into narrative elements, each with its own QR code for you to print.  I had a lot of fun with my students doing this find-scan-and-story-map activity!

Thank you to Tara Roehl of SpeechyKeenSLP who sent in these wonderful ideas:

1. I know someone at Palm, so they donated a bunch of old Palm phones in developer mode for me. I simply sync them to the clinic wifi and let the kids loose around the room/halls/clinic/building. I have a HP touch pad, so they can bring back their phone, touch it to the touchpad and we can all see what they found! 
2. Expected and Unexpected (see the Social Thinking methodology) behaviors around the building. We have QR codes on the front door, all around the lobby, in the halls and in each room. As an "intro" to the clinic they get to go around and find the QR codes to read what is expected or unexpected in our clinic! 
3. We have mandatory fire drills here this month. So we will be having the students find all the pieces to the "Drill" on QR codes, then see if they can put them in the correct order and complete the drill! 
4. Organization was a big puzzle for me. A way to tuck them away, remember what they are, preserve them, etc. We aren't laminating them, as the glare messes with the phones reading it. I went to Office Depot, got the "business card size name badge insert sheets" that you can put through your printer. They are the appropriate size to fit into the baseball card binder pages - so I store them in there in between!

A colleague of mine at school, came up with the clever idea of using QR Codes with the Visualizing and Verbalizing® Program.  QR codes could link to pictures to be used in the "Picture by Picture" level of V/V, or could link to the structure words that help students construct and describe mental images.

I also received a great suggestion via anonymous comment- "This is very easy to do. I actually gave my artic. kids their homework words in the QR Code. They are motivated to go home and see which words they need to practice." Thanks, commenter! 

Thank you also to Tanya Coyle, our Twitter Yoda, who initiated a discussion on Twitter about QR codes this week as part of her awesome #SLPsnQs series of discussions.  

Still curious about different ways you could use QR codes in your work? Check out this collaboratively developed presentation from Tom Barrett, educational technologist: 40 Interesting Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom. Tom has curated a whole slew of these presentations, created by educators adding slides to a collaborative Google Docs Presentation.  You can see all of the "Interesting Ways Presentations here.

Note: author is a contractor for Mindwing Concepts.

Horror Film Fest Revisited!

Last year I posted about a project I do with upper elementary students to develop story grammar, expository language and understanding of genre: a horror film fest.  Being back in the elementary school setting, I was thrilled to be able to revisit this theme.  I did notice that some of the films had become unavailable or changed URL location, so I wanted to update you with new links!

Again, all the films are short and relatively tame, violence and gore wise, in fact, most are more funny than scary.  However, you will want to preview these of course and apply your own standards.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOnqjkJTMaA (Thriller- I just use the first 4 min as a story example)
http://www.amctv.com/videos/presence-attached (this is an error on the site- the movie is actually called Tears of a Clown)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bj13j1sZmY (Blood Syrup)
http://darkartsmedia.com/DevilsTrampingGround.com.html (the Maco Lights)

Additionally, my immensely talented Graduate Intern, Laura Kasparian, constructed this great BrainFrame that helped the students apply genre aspects and align with story grammar:

Monday, October 24, 2011

ClickySticky Halloween

ClickySticky Halloween, like others in its series, is a visual exploration and simple picture creation app (for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch) that offers a lot of fun and language-building opportunities for its small price of $1.99.  The app has four visual scenes to choose from and complete in different ways, allowing for many repeat visits: the (grave)yard of a haunted house, a pumpkin to decorate, a collection of "treats," and kids to dress up in Halloween costumes. Each scene has engaging animations, such as bubbling potions or hovering ghosts.

Once pictures are created, they can be saved to the picture roll or emailed. The therapy uses of such an app are many and varied, and a few I have targeted include:
-Eliciting causals in the context of selecting halloween treats and costumes.
-Constructing absurd costume combinations and prompting kids to explain why they don't make sense.
-Using categories such as body parts, costume types (superhero, animal, etc), and junk food.
-Employing the app as a barrier task where one child asks another to construct a scene using spatial concepts.
-Targeting story grammar at the Action Sequence level by having a student construct the graveyard scene with animations, along with story mapping and development of more sophisticated verb use (e.g. attack, descend).

ClickySticky Halloween is a universal app available from the App Store. It will function without wi-fi connection, and is accessed through tap/drag gestures.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

LearnEnglish Kids' Haunted House

The British Council's LearnEnglish Kids' Haunted House is a fun activity you might consider exploring Halloween week with your kids.  The activity contains six creepy rooms filled with scary surprises, and kids are tasked to find one item in each room beginning with a certain letter.

The clues are presented in a rather unsettling voice, so make sure you preview it and use with "no tears" kind of kids!
Language Lens:
This fun Halloween activity can be used to target semantic skills (rooms in a house, furniture) temporal structures- "When you click on the ____, it _____"- and phonemic cueing.

You might also be interested in Carving a Pumpkin!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

QR Codes Part 7: Another Lesson Plan Using QR

As part of a teen social skill group recently, I used this strange-but-cool resource from Australia that allows you to make a visual "art cube" of your interests using Google Images or YouTube clips.

The kids worked in 2 groups to assemble a cube with their favorite things (in this case, 3 kids per subgroup, so each got to pick 2 sides of the cube).

Choose the category All, then you can select what type of media to insert in the cube (Google Images and YouTube are  the best choices).
The great thing about creating the cube this way (besides the kids being really engaged in sharing things about themselves) is that we could then get together and share cubes, and the kids in the opposite group had to guess who had added what to the cube.  We were therefore working on remembering things about others, an important skill.

QR Codes served to provide a fun extension activity the following week.  Once a completed cube is saved, you can view it on the site, and when you click on each side of the cube you get the option to View Source:

When you view the source of each side of the cube, it brings you to the exact URL of the Images and YouTube videos.  Guess what you can do with those URLs? Make QR Codes of course!!  The week after completing the cube, I created QR codes with Kaywa, printed and hid the QR codes around the area, and the kids did a hunt/scan/"Oh yeah that one was something that _____ picked!" Additionally, the kids used a checklist to mark off what they had found and make a guess about the person based on the picture (e.g. "She likes pickup trucks- I bet she likes the outdoors?" We got together after the hunt and discussed the guesses.  Again, many of these strategies are based on ideas in Michelle Garcia Winner's Think Social! curriuculum, so I highly recommend you check out that book!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

QR Codes Part 6: QR Code Treasure Hunt Generator

In previous posts, I showed how you can use Kaywa to generate individual QR codes for URLs, images, or text.  If you want to create an activity that involves students moving around and scanning many QRs (i.e. a scavenger/treasure hunt) with text questions, prompts or stimuli, ClassTools.net's QR Code Treasure Hunt Generator is a good resource to do this quickly.  You can use the website to enter in text questions and answers, and it instantly gives you many QRs to print:

The website gives you a specific format to enter in questions and answers, and allows you to go back and edit the hunt later if you enter a code.  It would be a good idea to save, cut and paste your hunts from Word or Google Docs so that you can keep an editable copy yourself!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Quick Tour of iOS5 on iPad

Apple has been much in the news lately as, besides Steve Job's passing, they have released a new phone, the iPhone 4S, and a new operating system for existing iPads and iPhones (and newer iPod Touches).   I have not bought the iPhone 4S since I am happy with my 4, but I am tempted by its new artificially intelligent personal assistant, Siri.  Siri helps you accomplish many tasks with voice commands such as texting, emailing, Internet searching, and adding items to the calendar.  While this new feature is limited to those with the iPhone 4S, we all can give our iPads and iPhones a new brain and enhancements by upgrading to iOS5.  I did a little video review of iOS 5 which you can see below; it is a pretty significant step for the operating system and will usher us into the "Post-PC" era.  After upgrading to iOS5, you will no longer need to connect your device to a computer (or have one, for that matter) to sync and backup your data.  I continue to say that it is important to have a laptop at least for work production, accessing Google docs (which are not so iPad-friendly) etc.  Sorry the quality is not the best, it's still hard to make a recording where the hand gestures are important to see.

Note: I did read that the split keyboard is designed to help you when you are holding the iPad with 2 hands, so you can type with your thumbs.  That makes sense. Note also that the multitouch gestures I demo here only will work on iPad 2.

I definitely recommend this upgrade (allow your iPad about 2 hrs to complete it), but definitely read this guide first.  Some other good reads:

Top 10 iOS5 Features you should know about (App Advice)
Top 10 iCloud Features you should know about (App Advice)
How to set up Wi-Fi Sync for iOS5 (CNET)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

QR Codes Part 5: QR Reader for Desktops/Laptops

In recent posts I have discussed mobile apps for using QR Codes in speech-language sessions, but there is also at least one application that is an option if your desktop or laptop has a webcam.  I have had good success with QRreader, which is free and runs on both Mac and PC. Simply navigate to that link and install the application.  It is Adobe AIR-based, so don't be surprised when you get prompts for periodic Adobe updates.

Once installed, the QRreader works much like a mobile app.  Open the application and your webcam will be activated.  Hold up the printed QR code to the center of the targets (this takes a bit more finagling than with a mobile app, as you are holding a flimsy piece of paper).  QRreader will then display the text, website or image encoded in your QR!

Like this:

Next week, a QR Scavenger Hunt creator that lets you make and print a bunch of QRs at once!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

QR Codes Part 4: A Lesson Plan incorporating QR

Last spring I had a social group of 2nd-3rd graders that was getting a little tired.  I wasn't getting tired, but they were getting tired of me.  I needed to change things up, and had recently learned about QR Codes at Edcamp Boston, so I thought I would give it a try.

One concept we had been working on was smart guesses vs. wacky guesses (a form of social inferencing, see Michelle Garcia Winner's Think Social), and I wanted to break from structured tabletop conversation activities to let the kids engage with each other through play.  So my plan was to have a themed session, and have them find QR codes around the therapy center in order to guess the theme.  The theme was camping, with an interactive website ("Thrill of the Catch"), play activity, and board game as part of the agenda.

The QR portion went like this:
1. I created four QR Codes that linked to images (pictures of a forest, boat, campfire, and tent) that served as clues about the theme. I printed the QR Codes and hid them around the center.
2.  The kids worked together to find the hidden codes, negotiate and take turns scanning them, and we discussed each one, doing some "negative practice" of what a wacky guess would be (i.e. "I found a boat!  I think the activity will be about clowns!"). It should be noted that QR hunts are great for kids who need some movement as part of their sessions.
3. We finally came to a smart guess about the theme, and proceeded to the non-QR activities for the rest of the session.

You create a QR of an image the same way you create one for a URL, but the process is a little different.  Check it out below:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Check out Pediastaff and Pinterest for Halloween (and many other) ideas!

Pinterest is a site that is creating a lot of excitement.  It is basically a spin on social bookmarking and allows members to create "Pinboards" (like a cyber bulletin board) of resources you find on the web.  The site is very visual and facilitates sharing of ideas by searching other Pinboards and "repinning" items others have highlighted.  The site is starting to be popular with SLPs and other therapists who are sharing items, most notably PediaStaff.  PediaStaff has created an awesome board about Halloween Themed activities- you should definitely check it out.

Heidi Kay from Pinterest sent me a message asking me to share this resource, and I am very happy to do so.  From Heidi: "I am trying to get the word around that not only is it a great resource, but (like with our blog), therapists need have "no worries" associated with checking it out and sharing our content. PediaStaff gets no personal data whatsoever from Pinterest. Some people are hesitant to sign up for our newsletter because they think they will get "recruited" if they give us their email address. We are really wanting this to be a true gift to the profession with no strings attached."

Heidi has an important point that PediaStaff is making great efforts to share content with therapists of all disciplines, a unique and admirable mission that is separate from their staffing endeavors. Please consider following their blog and signing up for their weekly newsletter, which are two great ways to access their content.  Heidi has written a great overview about their Pinterest resources on the PediaStaff blog, which also has a link to sign up for the newsletter.  Below, you can also see a video on how to use Pinterest.  Happy Pinning!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs, Visionary. 1955-2011

I distinctly remember my first computing experience.  My dad, the head of a public school "Library/Media" department, brought home an Apple ][ (2), and I was instantly hooked.  The Apple computer offered a relatively user-friendly experience for the early 80s, and I quickly learned how to switch out floppy discs, endure the machine's unforgiving "BRAAAAAP" sound that occurred when said discs caused an error, and enjoy games such as "Lemonade Stand" and "In Search of the Most Amazing Thing."

My Apple brand loyalty had been forged in silicon by the age of 8.  Through the years, I have loved the products conceived and nurtured by Steve Jobs, even in those years the company was expected to go under (Jobs himself got kicked out of the picture for a period of time). For me, the beauty and simplicity of Mac systems has always been the hook, just like Steve wanted it. Macs have shepherded me though high school, college and graduate degrees, countless evaluation reports, and so much learning. I learned to edit video on a Mac, collected and organized my wedding photos, and connected with friends and new and exciting sites in the "i" spaces the platform so easily accessed. My work has revolved around a succession of mid-word capital letters- PowerBooks, iBooks, iMacs, MacBooks, each new generation making it easier to access interactive programs and visuals, and thus to facilitate learning.

I was not an early adopter of the iPhone, but, once convinced to turn, have found my life revolutionized, energized, and simplified by the fact that "There's an App for That." Now look where we are, thanks to Steve. A new generation of SLPs is entering our field seeing how simple it is to engage kids in using language though the technology offered by the iPad.  Veteran SLPs who are computer-phobic are revisiting and trying to address their issues with tech, seeing the iPad as a bridge to cross their fears and foster student learning.  And parents are able to use relevant apps for everything from helping their kids engage in self-directed play to rewarding them for positive behaviors.

Steve Jobs once said, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Steve really knew what I wanted and needed, before I even did, and has, at every step, pushed the technology and design to make it, well, "Magic." As much as I am sad that I was wrong about how long he would be with us, I am grateful for what he has created for us and our students.

Thanks, Steve.

QR Codes Part 3: Mobile Scanning Apps and Demo

So in this, Part 3 of my series on using QR codes to deliver engaging messages, stimuli and visuals to students during sessions, you'll get to see what it looks like when you scan a code with a mobile device.  Check out the video here:

So, that video pretty much sums it up.  The app I used there (for iOS, iPod Touch w/camera, iPad, iPhone) was Scan, and another I have used successfully is RedLaser (both are free).  Android peeps, I hear Barcode Scanner works well, but not having an Android device, I can't vouch for anything.

Next week I'll be sharing some more ideas about using QR codes in therapy, including sharing an image through QR, lessons using QR related to the Social Thinking® curriculum, and other tidbits.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

QR Codes Part 2: Using Kaywa to Generate a QR Code

In part one of this series, I described what a QR Code is, where you might have seen them, and their potential for grabbing the attention of our students.

Today, I am going to talk about Kaywa, a free site that you can use to generate and print a QR code for use in a session.

Kaywa is simple to use.  You can type or cut/paste a website URL (address) and create a code that, when scanned, will open the web browser on the device (smartphone, iPod Touch, iPad) or you can enter a short piece of text (e.g. a word with a target sound, vocab word or definition, contextual info, or a strategy you want the student to use).

1. Choose the Content type (generally you will use URL or Text)
2. For URL, you may copy and paste the URL from another window or tab (just make sure to delete http:// from the URL field before pasting (so you don't end up with http://http:// at the beginning of your code, which would be an invalid URL.

3. Click Generate!

Here's your code! Click on it and you will see it by itself on a page in printable form.
Like This.  
Select File>Print from your browser and you will be able to print the code for scanning. You can also right-click(PC) or control-click(Mac) to copy or save the QR Code image.

Here's a short video showing these steps.  Have fun!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

QR Codes Part 1: What are QR Codes?

I am excited to do a few "theme" series on SpeechTechie that will explore topics and strategies in more depth, as I did with Glogster EDU.  To that end, over the next month we will be looking at QR Codes, a hot topic and emerging technology in education.

What are QR Codes, you ask? Well, you probably have seen them already and wondered, "What the heck are those things???"

This is a QR Code

You have most likely seen QR Codes as some part of an advertisement.  QR stands for "Quick Response" and the code is offered to you basically as an eye-grabbing teaser.  You can use an app on your mobile device (smartphone, iPhone, iPod touch, Android phone, iPad) to scan the code, and it usually opens up your web browser and brings you to a site related to the topic of the ad.  In other words, you scan the code and get more information, or more ad! Which ultimately can be kind of lame (but not when used in education, so sit tight).

I wasn't really tempted to get too close to the 3rd rail on the MBTA to scan this QR code
QR Codes can lead to grossness.
So what about QR codes is applicable to us as SLPs and educators? First of all, they are extremely easy to create and print for use in sessions (though again, you need to have access to one of the devices I mentioned above, or a computer with a webcam). Secondly, they are an instant attention-grabber for kids, and constitute a kind of high-tech hide and seek. Rather than giving kids a piece of paper that serves as a stimulus (word or picture), you can present (or hide!) a QR Code they can scan in order to read a text message or see an image, website or video. Students from Kindergarten to High School are engaged by this little hook, which adds the process of discovery to any of your sessions.

Over the coming posts, I will be describing in detail how to create various kinds of QR codes, apps to use to scan them, and lesson ideas for you to try out right away! Each post must by necessity be a bit of a tease as I can't give all the info at once, but I will let you know where I am going in case you want to work ahead!  Next post (Weds): using Kaywa's free QR-Code Generator to make a code.

Part 2: Using Kaywa (Free site) to generate QR codes
Part 3: Apps for Scanning QR Codes and a video demo
Part 4: Lesson Plan incorporating QR and using QR to bring up an image
Part 5: A Desktop/Laptop App for scanning QR Codes
Part 6: Make a bunch of QRs at once with Scavenger Hunt Creator
Part 7: Cube Lesson Plan involving QR
Part 8: Wrapping up with More Ways for SLPs to use QRs
Part 9: Making QR Codes that Play Audio