Sunday, March 20, 2011

What can you do with a QR code?

Ever since my friend and colleague, Renee, introduced me to QR (quick response) codes, I have been fascinated with the possibilities. I am still not sure how I might one day use QR codes, but for now they are fun to play around with. I have found a few good websites for making your own codes in case you would like to check them out for yourself. This website will let you turn a URL, text, phone number or SMS into a QR code, while this one will create a business card with your contact information contained in the code. Don't forget that you will need to add a QR scanner app to your smart phone in order to read a QR code. Once you do, you can use it to scan the code below.

Let me know if you think of any ways that you might use one of these codes, and in the meantime, have fun!

QR code for my PLP team's action research project wiki page

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring has Sprung

The first of the season. How can something so small and beautiful be so hardy? A sure sign that spring is on it's way!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Classroom Facebook?

At a recent faculty meeting in my preschool, many of the teachers were complaining that parents never read the bi-weekly class letters. The letters, which are posted to our school’s Moodle site, contain information about the current classroom themes and recent events and projects, as well as upcoming events for parents' calendars. Teachers often include wonderful photos of the students engaged in learning or exploring something new. What parent wouldn't want to check this out, right? Well, the problem is that they aren't. We don't have any great answers as to why not, other than Moodle is cumbersome/impossible to check on a handheld device, which is how many of our parents stay connected.

This got me thinking. Why not use Facebook as a way to communicate with parents? After all, most of our parents are already on Facebook. Half jokingly, I suggested this idea at that same faculty meeting. I say "half jokingly" because I knew that it would not go over easily. Like all schools, our administration and faculty are greatly concerned about internet safety and privacy, especially for our youngest students. But is the idea of Facebook as a means for a classroom teacher to communicate with families such a far-fetched idea? Many of the teachers at the meeting immediately began discussing the "how-to’s" of such an endeavor. They immediately recognized that "yes, in fact, parents would read a Facebook page". But almost immediately, the concerns too came up. How would we make it secure, how would we limit access to just our parents, how would we ensure that our parents used proper etiquette while on the classroom page?

So, I’ve recently been given the task of figuring this all out. Is it possible for our preschool to set up Facebook pages for each of our classes? I would love to hear from any of you who have ideas or suggestions that might help me along in this process. If you are a teacher, how do you currently communicate with your parents? Or if you are a parent, what would you think of a Facebook page for your child's class?

You might also check out one of Christopher Dawson's recent blogs, "Will it ever be time for Facebook?" It is an interesting read, but the comments that follow are where the real discussion takes place. Let me know what you think.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Taking a Lesson from My Children

Several weeks ago, my two younger children, Chloe, age 8, and Mac, age 10, came to me with the request to go to Toys 'R' Us. It seemed they had finally found the perfect use for the Christmas money that their grandparents had given them.

After stalling for as many days as I could (let's just say that Toys 'R' Us is not one of my favorite places), we arrived at the store. Within moments, they vanished down an aisle in search of the coveted toy. By the time I found them again, they each had an "electric" guitar and a guitar strap in their hands.

They explained to me that the guitars were called Paper Jamz; I, of course, had never heard of them. Nonetheless, they seemed to know all about these guitars. Not surprising since my children, like many children, love to watch the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, which are rife with ads for every new toy to come along.

However, what was really interesting about this whole episode was that my children had REAL information on the Paper Jamz. Chloe told me that although she liked the look of the style 5, she wasn't going to get it and had decided instead on style 18 (shown on the right). When I asked why she had decided against 5, she informed me that she had read the consumer reviews for the guitars, and the reviews for style 18 were more favorable. At this point, my son chimed in and said that he agreed. And besides, according to my son, the YouTube videos that they had watched clearly showed the superiority of style 18.

Amazing!! These were not two children who were merely going to the local toy store to buy the latest and greatest toy. They instead had become proactive in their purchasing. Had they been influenced by advertising? Certainly. But, were they passive consumers? Not hardly. They were now informed consumers. They had used resources within their means to research and investige a product before buying it. I would love to take credit for this series of events. I would love to say that I had actively modeled this behavior for them. But I can't. I can say though that I was really proud of them!