Over the summer, I spent a day working with a Kindergarten teacher on literacy stations and how to make them work in a Kindergarten classroom. We made plans for an alphabet table, a sight word wall, a name station and a listening center. Inspired by Heidi Sokolowski’s amazing idea focusing QR codes at her Open House, I suggested we create a digital listening center to help increase engagement and lessen the technical difficulties that typically accompany a listening station.
We decided to use early readers for the listening station. We wanted students to build a reading identity and read along with the story being read to them. We chose a few favorite Biscuit books to start with and I recorded myself reading the stories aloud using AudioBoom. Once the audio files were ready to go, I used QR Stuff and linked each one to a unique QR code. I printed the codes, taped them into the front cover of the book and returned to the classroom to launch the station. Take a look here to see the file I have created.
The students were enthralled! I started the lesson by asking them if they were readers. Many said yes, but some said no, unfortunately. We talked about how readers read the words, read the pictures and read along with others and that each way of reading made you a reader. Next, I showed students how some of the books in their classroom library now have a ‘secret code’ in them to generate excitement. I modeled how to use the ‘secret code reader’ (QR code reader!) to discover the secret. The expressions on their face were priceless when they heard me reading aloud to them! We listened to the book together, taking care to point to each word and make sense of the story together. The lesson was a success and the students were hooked!
As I reflect on this experience, I am reminded of the need for authenticity in the classroom. The act of scanning QR codes is something that many of us do outside of the classroom. Using a device to listen to stories, rather than the clunky cassette player (yes, I still see them in classrooms!) or CD players, is what students would do outside of school as well. Skeptical about the students successfully using the technology? No need! I did not spend time teaching these Kindergarten students the technical details of how to use a QR code reader. Instead, I modeled a real reason for using it and the process of how to use it was embedded within. They saw me use it in a real setting and simply followed my lead.
Based on our success in this one classroom, other teachers are asking to learn more. I already have plans to visit another Kindergarten classroom next week where our listening station will focus not on emergent books, but on read alouds to build vocabulary. When creating the listening station is so easy, we can vary our purpose for the station and tailor the books read aloud based on the needs of the class.
The excitement for using QR codes in this school has just begin. The special education teacher also plans to use QR codes to record herself reading the books her students are required to read in the classroom, but might not be at the right reading level for them. This way, she can continue to scaffold the reading her students are doing at home. One of the AIS teachers plans to bring this into her reading room as well. On Fridays, the third, fourth and fifth grade students will record books for the Kindergarten classrooms and gain fluency practice along the way. Finally, the principal plans to join in and record a few books as well. This way, students will not only be excited to listen to a book, but to discover who is reading it to them!
My excitement also continues as I continue to think of ways QR codes can help me teach and reinforce literacy content in my graduate teacher education classroom. I have already started to use QR codes for running record practice. I paste in QR codes at the bottom of a page of text and my students can instantly hear a young student read the text aloud and practice taking a running record. I also plan to have my students record their young students reading their books aloud in our after-school reading club. Families could then scan the code to hear their child reading throughout the semester. As one last example, I might have students scan QR codes during discussion groups, linked to additional websites or articles to continue the conversations in class. The possibilities are endless!
What ways have you used QR codes in the classroom or in your literacy coaching?