Tag Archives: literacy

Using @pinterest & #QRcodes to digitize @iampemberton’s class library & share reading prompts. #kinderchat #ptchat

I just had such a great and productive conversation with Kindergarten teacher, Lauren Pemberton (@iampemberton)! Lauren came into the tech office asking about whether she should affix QR codes to class library books or use some other technology like augmented reality. I asked what she’d like to have happen, and she said she wants parents to be able to scan a code and see questions pop-up during read-alouds with their children that would be good prompts and conversation starters about the story.

I agreed that QR codes would work really well, since the QR code acts as a link to additional information by using any device. Each QR code is paired to a unique webpage that can be bookmarked or emailed or just left in the form of an open page on the device’s web browser. In contrast, augmented reality apps like Layar and Aurasma allow the book cover (or any image) to be used as a dynamic trigger that launches an overlay of information on the device’s screen. This is awesome, but that overlay would disappear as soon as the device is no longer hovering over the trigger (in this case, scanning the book via the app could launch an image containing a list of questions but only when the device is “seeing” the book cover).

I backtracked and suggested that Lauren and her co-teacher, @Jenn_Dare,  first build a Pinterest board full of books available in their classroom’s library. I totally got this idea from my friend, @KimBeeman, who is the amazing Head of the Library at The Shrewsbury International School in Bangkok, Thailand. Kim curates a wonderfully useful Shrewbury Library Blog and many Pinterest boards of the library’s collection organized by genre, grade, project, date aquired, and more.

So, Lauren and Jenn are going to curate a Pinterest board that is a digital representation of their Kindergarten library. Each book pinned to the board will have a unique URL (web address) and space in the description for Lauren and Jenn to post questions and conversation starters about that book. These pins also allow for comments from other users, so parents and teachers can add their own questions and prompts and share/network with each other. Yay for social networking about literacy!

Many sites allow you to make a QR code (like QR Stuff or QR Code Generator), so each book pinned on Lauren and Jenn’s Pinterest board will have a distinct QR code that gets printed and taped to the physical book in their class’s library. This enables students/parents/teachers to borrow a book, scan the QR code taped to it by using a QR reader (like QR Reader for iPhone or QR Code Reader) and launch a webpage for that book’s pin on the Pinterest board to access questions specific to the story.

Finally, I suggested that Lauren keep a GoogleDoc that consists of an ever-expanding table that includes the following information:

  1. Book title
  2. URL to that book’s pin on the class library Pinterest board
  3. QR code that links to that pin’s URL

This will be tedious but worthwhile. After all of their classroom’s current  books are inventoried, pinned to the Pinterest board, and linked to a QR code, it’s just a matter of adding new rows to the table as any additional books are brought in to supplement their growing and evolving library.


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 Video: @zamchick gives a demo of how to “type a picture” using @WordsEye. #engchat #artsed   

Gary @Zamchick, co-founder of WordsEye, visited this morning. I had seen an early prototype of WordsEye a few years ago, and his current version is amazing. Here’s a video of Gary offering a demo for one of my awesome colleagues, Kindergarten teacher, Joyce Tsang

As per the email WordsEye sent me upon registering: 
WordsEye lets anyone “type a picture” using simple language. It uses natural language technology to translate your sentences into 3D scenes. Words can become art, visual opinion, greetings, and more.

Below is an example of text and the resulting scene included in the same registration email: 
 @WordsEye is an amazing two-fold web-based application. You can “type a picture” using simple and descriptive language to create an elaborate 3D scene. There’s also a social network component where you can share your creation to the WordsEye gallery, and download or re-mix someone else’s scene. When you explore the WordsEye Gallery, you can also click an image to see exactly the text used to create particular 3D scenes. I loved this aspect, and it reminded me of how you can “see inside” Scratch programs shared online in order to learn from the original creator and also remix the project to make it personal.

As a literacy tool, WordsEye is amazing for reinforcing the importance of descriptive and figurative language. You can change the scene easily by introducing or replacing words. I imagine having students build a lexicon of language that works in WordsEye – so they can help each other determine how the words tiny, humongous, large, small, huge, etc. will change the look and size of an object. In that respect, there are opportunities to have conversations about scale and proportion as well. Besides space and distance, WordsEye also recognizes pronouns — you can type “The dog is two feet from the sofa. It is to the left of the planet.” and WordsEye will place objects accordingly.

I hope one day WordsEye will be voice-activated, so that younger students can dictate words rather than type them. Also, I wonder if more emotions could be coded into WordsEye so that you can type “the sad boy” or “the happy alien” or “the frustrated teacher” (haha). Consider a doctor’s non-verbal chart of smiley faces to help illustrate a patient’s pain — maybe something similar will enable users to include layers of emotion or other non-verbals that can enhance the finished scene or offer insight into something they are not comfortable voicing aloud yet are ready to share in a visual medium.

You can pre-register to explore WordsEye on your own! https://wordseye.com

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Our new and improved Independent Reading Site is up and running at @The_School thanks to @finlaycm.

Cristina Martinez-Finlay is the Network Manager (and ever so much more) at The School at Columbia University. Last year, she decided to embark on a personal journey to revamp our beloved but kinda ugly Independent Reading Site which had been a labor-of-love Google Site that Marisa Guastaferro Mendez and I launched in 2007. We even won an award for it back in the day.

Marisa wanted an internal space for kids to keep track of their independent reading, post book reviews, and social network about literacy. We examined GoodReads, Shelfari, and other sites before deciding to just have an internal Google Site that anyone in our school community could access and edit. The site was alive and kicking and heavily used for 6 years. Then last year, Cristina showed me her pet project. She used Drupal to build the site (because, lordy, that woman knows Drupal), and she built up a site that is internal, robust, and legitimately way more attractive to use. The kids love it.

Today, Eve Becker (8th grade English) and I reminded the kids how to navigate the site, add books, join groups, post reviews, and comment on other people’s reviews. Cristina was there to answer questions too, and I’m glad the kids had a chance to appreciate her to her face.

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