Sunday, October 26, 2014

How to Make QR Code Activities for your Classroom


What are QR Codes?
QR stands for quick response, and they do exactly what their name says.  They quickly get students to answers, videos, audio files, and various other educational content available online, thus minimizing the time it takes for students to check their work or find a location online where you want them to go.  No more typing in long or strange website URLs!  And, you instantly have more time available for learning!

How Can I Use QR Codes in my Classroom?
QR code activities are one of the EASIEST ways teachers can implement mobile devices in their classrooms AND they bring learning and student engagement to a whole new level!  Plus, they are so versatile!  You are only limited by your imagination! 

By far, the easiest way teachers can use QR codes in their classrooms is by simply taking worksheets they're already doing, inputting the problems/questions into task cards, and creating QR codes for the students to self-check their answers. Then, the task cards can be used in cooperative groups, scavenger hunts, posted around the room to get students out of their seats, or to play review games like SCOOT or Be the Teacher.

Some of my favorite ways to use QR codes include:


Need Help Getting Started?
For detailed instructions (with pictures) on how to create your own QR code activities for your classroom, check out our FREE user guide available in our TpT store.  


No Time to Create your Own, but You Still Want to Try Them?
Check out some of the QR code activities we've created, as well as the numerous others created by other creative sellers on TpT.  Simply go to TpT, type in QR codes in the search box, and prepare to be amazed by the wealth of QR code activities that have already been created for you to use!

Here are a few of ours:








If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at watsonworks1@outlook.com or comment below.

We look forward to hearing from you!

~Heather & Ashley
Watson Works


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Drawing Conclusions: CSI Style!


This week, we did one of my favorite activities of all time with the 2nd graders on my campus.  The skill for this week in reading was drawing conclusions, so a few of the 2nd grade teachers asked me to help them come up with a CSI style mystery for students to solve by drawing conclusions.  So, we teamed up with our wonderful, go-with-the-flow, music teacher, Mrs. Brassard, and created a fun mystery for our students to solve.  

Making our Case
First, we had to come up with a case.  Since Mrs. Brassard is currently busy getting ready for the 2nd grade choir concert next week, we decided to make our case revolve around that.  Here was our case:
"Mrs. Brassard was getting ready for her upcoming concert, "Hats the Musical."  All of the kids were singing their songs all the time, and all they could talk about was, "Mrs. Brassard, Mrs. Brassard, Mrs. Brassard!"  Someone on campus (me - the librarian) didn't like that Mrs. Brassard was getting all of the attention.  In an act of jealousy, they poured black paint all over her sign!  Help Mrs. Brassard find out who ruined her sign.  Follow the clues that lead back to the jealous vandal, and solve The Case of the Black Paint Mystery!"

Creating the Crime Scene
Next, we had to make the crime scene.  We spilled black "paint" (really just black paper) on her beautiful sign and marked it off with very authentic looking CSI crime scene tape (although regular caution tape would work just fine).  

Mrs. Brassard is such a good sport that she also agreed to film a short video of herself discovering the sign and pleading with the students to use the clues and help her solve the case (in true "Blues Clues" fashion, I might add...haha). Click the image below to view the video.

Creating Clues/Evidence
Next, we had to come up with evidence/clues to give our students to help them solve the mystery.  Because these are 2nd graders, we couldn't make them too easy or too difficult.  Here's what we came up with:
Black footsteps that led down the hall in the direction of the library (I wore high heels on this day to hopefully help students eliminate the male suspects on campus).

Black paint and a "Read" apron stashed on a shelf in the hallway leading to the library.

An earring (that I wear all the time) and a strand of long brown hair found on the floor in the hallway leading to the library.

Black paint found in the girls' bathroom in the hallway leading to the library (thus eliminating all male suspects - hopefully).

Our final piece of evidence was a black thumbprint found on a library book on a shelf right outside the library.
Once we took photos of all of the evidence, I uploaded the photos to Flickr and created a QR code for each photo.  Then, we inserted the QR codes into a cool, CSI-style, caution tape task card, along with a written clue.  Here's an example:
Making Evidence Files
After making all of the clue cards, we placed them into CSI-style evidence files to distribute to student groups.

Solving the Crime
Then, we passed out an iPad to each group, reviewed how to use QR codes, and discussed the case with students.  And boy, oh boy, is Mrs. Brassard a good actress because the kids believed this case was very real (corny as it was)!!  

First, they scanned a QR code to watch her video, and afterward, they read the case description on the back of the card.  Next, students read each clue card and scanned the QR code to view the photos of the evidence.  The groups had to work together to draw conclusions and solve the crime.  They recorded their evidence, possible suspects, and final verdict on their Evidence Recording Sheet, and then reported it to the class at the end of the lesson.
I wish we could show you the video of the students at the end solving the mystery because it truly is priceless.  One little girl wanted to go tell Mrs. Brassard right that minute!  But, since we can't share it, here are a few photos of the kids enjoying the activity.

The girl in the green at the front of the class was literally jumping up and down, flailing her arms about, begging to go tell Mrs. Brassard.  SO FUNNY!!

If you're interested in doing a CSI style activity in your class, we did upload the products we used to complete this activity to our TpT store.  It truly was so much fun that we're planning to solve another mystery every time our skill in reading for the week is drawing conclusions.  The kids loved it so much that our math teachers are even brainstorming creative ways to use the activity in their math classes, too.  The sky's really the limit with this one.  Yes, it does practice drawing conclusions, but it uses higher order thinking skills and is so versatile!  It can be used in numerous grade levels and in any subject area.  Determining the difficulty level and subject area are up to you.  

Your crime could be a mystery involving someone on your campus like ours or even a celebrity students easily recognize so that they're instantly engaged in the activity; it could also involve a case where students are given clues to discover a certain number, letter, vocabulary word, mathematical concept, historical figure/event, scientific term, etc.  Be as creative as you want to be! 

If you do a CSI style activity in your class, we'd love to hear your ideas, and we hope your students enjoy it as much as ours did! :)

Watson Works


Sunday, October 5, 2014

12 Most Checked Out Halloween Books in my Elementary Library


For curiosity's sake, I recently ran a report to see which Halloween books were most frequently checked out in my elementary library in 2013, and these 12 won by a landslide:

1) Arthur’s Halloween by Marc Brown
2) Click, Clack, Boo! by Doreen Cronin & Betsy Lewin
3) Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds
4) Druscilla’s Halloween by Sally M. Walker
5) Fancy Nancy: Halloween…or Bust! by Jane O’Connor
6) Froggy’s Halloween by Jonathan London
7) Halloween by Jerry Seinfeld
8) The Hallo-weiner by Dav Pilkey
9) Haunted House, Haunted Mouse by Judy Cox
10) I’m not Afraid of this Haunted House by Laurie Friedman
11) Scaredy-Cat, Splat! by Rob Scotton
12) There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat! by Lucille Colandro
Because of these results, we were inspired to create our very first QR code listening centers.  We included each of these Halloween titles, and we're super excited about them!!


Using QR code listening centers like these can drastically modernize and improve your listening centers.  Students will scan the QR Codes using a QR reader on their smart device (iPad, iPod, iPhone, tablets, etc.), then simply press play and listen to the stories being read by ME while they follow along in the book. A train “choo choo” will sound to alert students to turn the page. All of the narrations were made using AudioBoom.com, so this should help with districts who filter/block YouTube.

You can also use these listening centers on desktop/laptop computers by having the document open on the screen and allowing students to click the QR codes which are hyperlinked to the narrations of the stories on AudioBoom.com.

I can't wait to use these in my library this year!  We hope you like them, as well! :)

Watson Works


"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
-Nelson Mandela