Saturday, March 10, 2012

using iTechnology in the classroom

This fall I wrote a huge grant to the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, Inc. which included the purchase of 3 iPads for my classroom. I teach USING a lot of different technologies (digital cameras, photo software, ActivBoard, ActivExpressions, ActiVotes, etc) but I lacked in areas allowing the students to USE technology to learn. This grant, which specified that students learn to speak about artwork using appropriate vocabulary, focused on the app called FotoBabble. Long story short, FotoBabble allows you (or your students) to speak over a photo that you take and upload it into a FotoBabble gallery. Cool, huh?

Recently we did a project on Dale Chihuly's "Macchia" in my Kindergarten classes. It was really the first time we had talked about a specific "famous" artist, his life, his "process", or his medium. As the students went through their own process of creating Macchia using markers, coffee filters, and heavy starch, I interviewed them on their Macchia-making process, what they thought about Chihuly's artwork, and about their favorite parts of the project and uploaded all their interviews onto our FotoBabble account.
I mean, using aural learning (learning about Dale Chihuly), verbal learning (re-telling events in his life, his artwork, or their own artwork), and visual learning (making the Macchia) uses 3 intelligences and pretty much guarantees that a student is going to remember facts about this artist, the artistic process, and their own artwork.

As if this wasn't meaningful enough, just gets even cooler!

I then took the link to their FotoBabble interview and put it into a QR code generator (I like Kaywa), copied and pasted their QR code to a word document, labeled it, and displayed the QR code with their artwork. Now parents, teachers, administrators, and visitors can stroll through the hallway, scan the QR codes, and listen to my students talk about their artwork. Technology in action, an extension to reach the's a beautiful thing!

This FotoBabble App can be used in so many different ways:
  • Students could interview each other about ANYTHING to develop relational skills.

  • Students could practice speaking skills and learn vocabularies.

  • Students could verbally narrate an artwork, picture, diorama, or project.

  • Students could sing or recite a poem.

  • Students could practice reading and verbalize what was just read.

  • Students could re-teach a lesson or process.

  • Students could...the list is ENDLESS!
I also had the barcodes put in our school newspaper with a picture of the student's work so we could reach ALL parents with smartphones at home! The sky is the limit here, friends!

Do you use QR codes in your classroom? Have you thought about it but didn't really know how to go about doing it? Trust me, I thought the same thing...and when these iPads showed up in my classroom I actually had to have a group of 5th graders set me up. Technology is daunting; there is SO much to know, so much to share, and SO much to learn! I definitely had to step out of my comfort zone here, but they were steps I'm so glad I took!

A picture is worth a thousand words, but if you give that picture a voice you are able to say so much more!

Happy creating, coding, and storytelling!

Joanna Davis-Lanum is a National Board Certified Art Teacher and teaches at Garden Elementary School in Venice, Florida. She is the author and voice behind her classroom blog called "We Heart Art". She learns more technological stuff from her students than any class in college ever taught her. You can hop on over to We Heart Art to see more students creating, implementing, and using QR codes in their artwork, grades K-5.


  1. Joanna,
    I am having an OMG moment!!! I am familiar with QRs of course, but never had any idea how they could be used in education. No one ever broke it down for me until today.
    Here are my thoughts:
    _ at our annual school art show, I could have QR codes so that my students could narrate, just as yours did
    -at our Open House, I could have students reading their essays or whatever, because there will be QR codes attached to their writing
    My mind is turning cartwheels. This is so amazing and so brilliant and I honestly am not fully grasping this yet.
    Thank you times a million for sharing!!
    An Open Door

    1. Camille- you are spot-on! Isn't the blogosphere wonderful?! I love having a-ha moments! Thanks!!!!

    2. Our tech teacher used QR codes for Open House. He set up a scavenger hunt so that kids could look for them as they toured their families around. It was SO cool because the one he made for my office door took the kids RIGHT to my blog, The Corner On Character!

      He's offering a PLC on how to use them on the Tuesday when we get back from break - I can't wait. Thanks for sharing these tips!

      The Corner On Character

  2. Joanna, this is sensational! I am writing a grant to purchase ipads for my preschool classroom. Can you offer any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Thanks! For this grant I focused on using the iPads as an assessment tool for the children. You can see the project took them in so many more directions, and the ossibilities for use are endless. When you write a grant, you need to focus on how the students will show growth (measured and non-measurable), how the project lends itself to playing a role in the students' lives beyond the classroom, and links to your curriculum. I look forward to using them a ton more, the kids love them! Good luck! If you need any assistance, let me know. I'm not an expert, but I've written about $30k in grants for my kids in 12 years :)

  3. Oh my ... that is the coolest thing! My mind is spinning on how this can be used in the classroom! Will HAVE to check this out more! Thanks for sharing! :-)

  4. Joanna, I found this blog post through a pin on Pinterest. I have been researching using iPads in the classroom. I just about fell out of my seat when I read about a grant from Sarasota County as that's where we live! My daughter, Maddy, has CP and is non-verbal. She currently goes to Venice Elementary and is in Special Ed. Perhaps you have even heard of her? Apparently, your husband worked for mine, and your students' artwork was prominently displayed at Publix! Small world!

    Anyway, we purchased Maddy an iPad about a year-and-a-half ago. I requested that they use it at school. No one was formally trained with the iPad or the communication software at the school, but her teacher has done a great job learning about the iPad and integrating it into Maddy's curriculum! Since then, Maddy has really progressed and can demonstrate how much she knows!

    Since Maddy is in fifth grade this year, she has to move on to Oak Park in the fall. Apparently, they do not use iPads there either. I'm flabbergasted that no one in the Special Ed community has yet implemented them in their curriculum! I realize that they are somewhat costly, but nowhere near the cost to other communication devices. Plus, it can be used for so much more than just communication!

    I'm encouraged to see that you have taken the initiative in obtaining these incredible tools for your students, and I can only hope that Venice Elementary and Oak Park will do the same!

    On another note, I told the art teacher at VES that she needs to check out Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. I love it!

    1. Thank you, Paula! There are ways to obtain technology without schools footing the bill. is a great stepping-off point, and the Education Foundation is a-mazing! Love them! So glad that Maddy is doing well with her iPad, you are a great advocate for your daughter!!!

  5. Thanks, Joanna! I am also a kindergarten teacher and have been looking for ways to expand the tech tools to teach Kinders, beyond digital cameras and the occasional iPads (we have 5 of them once every 5 weeks). I am way excited to borrow your ideas and use them in class! I don't know much about QR but will definitely research to find out how to use this.

    I am taking an online course in the COETAIL program (Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy) and for my final project, I was thinking of using VoiceThread for kids to talk about their pictures. I wonder if VoiceThread also generates QR codes. The QR would allow their parents (or any audience) to listen to the students explain their thinking. How very cool!!!

    1. VoiceThread wouldn't generate the QR codes. Once you have their voices recorded, you copy the WEB PAGE the voice is on, and put that in Kaywa to create the code. That way, when the code is scanned it will take you to the VoiceThread page where their recording is. FotoBabble works similarly. I take the link to their FotoBabble, paste it into the Kaywa generator and then you have the scannable QR code/link. Good luck! I hope your course is beneficial to you...I've figured this out on my own, I'm sure there are other ways to do it, but I'm learning as I go!!!

  6. That's amazing, Joanna! So much that can be done with technology now - and beautifully! I pinned your post to the Technology Tips and Integration Pinterest Board at

    1. Thanks, Deb...and thanks for the PIN!

  7. Oh. My. Gosh.
    What a fabulous idea! Thank you for sharing!
    Would love for you to stop by my blog sometime.


  8. This. is. awesome!
    I just used QR codes during our new family orientation to get the new parents onto our website & to sign up for things but I didn't have an idea about how to get the students involved with them! I have 8 iPods in my classroom and my head is spinning with ideas now! Scavenger Hunt, Letter sounds game, getting to know the classroom,! Thank you so much for sharing!
    Kindergarten Schmindergarten


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