Niagara Gazette

June 17, 2013

Falls students work with QR codes to bring book reports to any smart phone

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Sometimes a book report is just a book report. And sometimes, it’s an adventure in using technology to bring learning to the home and to the masses.

Take, for instance, the reading students of Anne Mardon, literacy coach at LaSalle Preparatory School. Mardon used a cue from a fellow teacher and some computer-based know-how to get a group of 14 students to file book reports on authors like Langston Hughes and Walter Myers. And with a smart phone, anyone can review their work.

This is because they used QR codes, barcodes for websites rather than food and personal products, to spread their work on the Internet.

“Parents can go up to the bulletin board with a smartphone or tablet, and they can scan the code which will take them right to the reports,” Mardon said. “When they click on them, they can hear the students voices. We had it set up for the district elections (in May) so they could come in, vote and hear the reports if they wanted.”

Each of the English Language Arts teachers in the eighth grade picked a handful of students for the project. They banded together to create the online reports, while some supplied written versions for display alongside the electronic codes on the board.

The mission was to get more students engaged in the reading and writing process, which worked, according to some of the students who participated.

Though neither participated in the electronic version of the reports, Ciara Magliazzo and Devante Wallace each said they enjoyed reading the authors they studied only after doing the reports. And reading moved up on their priorities list as they prepare for high school in September.

“I’m definitely going to read more,” Ciara said. “I didn’t really read that much. But it wasn’t boring.”

Devante, meanwhile, said he was captivated by the many of the authors’s stories because it brought him into a world he never anticipated. There was a real sense of hope in what he read coupled with bringing out his own imagination.

“It was definitely a challenge,” he said. “I’m definitely going to read more this summer. There was a great sense of imagination in these books, a sense of hope.”

Mardon, meanwhile, is hopeful technology like QR codes can do more in the future. It’s just a matter of finding the time and the skills to use in the classroom.

“We’re trying to do more,” she said. “It’s just a matter of being efficient. It’s a matter of finding something which doesn’t take up much time.”

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.