We Love Wordament!

This week, I had the pleasure of visiting our Year 6 Enhanced English class as well as their teacher, Mr B.
We had planned a special session to introduce them to the Microsoft Surface, Windows 8 and, in particular, Wordament.

Wordament is a fabulous word game that can be downloaded for free from the Windows 8 App Store. ¬†However, we must warn you – it is very addictive! ūüôā

It was the last lesson of the day and we had reached an incredible 37 degrees¬†Celsius! ¬†As you can imagine, the students were exhausted as they arrived for their English session. ¬†Initially, Mr B and I were concerned as to “how much we would get out of them”, given the less than ideal conditions. ¬†However, we needn’t have worried!

During the first part of the session, we introduced the Wordament app via the SMART Notebook software. ¬†A screenshot of a Wordament grid gave the students the opportunity to get a feel for the app prior to playing the real thing. ¬†By using the “Magic Pen” in the SMART Notebook Software, students were able to show how they could make words. ¬†The markings of the Magic Pen would then fade, in time for the next student to make a word.

When introducing the Microsoft Surface to the students they were immediately excited by what they saw. ¬†In particular, many of them had seen the television advertisement and were keen to see the “cool keyboard” and “what Windows 8 was really like”. ¬†There is no doubt that students take to touch screen devices “like ducks to water”.

The students then had the opportunity to play the game in pairs while the remaining members of the class worked on another pre-set task. ¬†It was fabulous to watch on as the students encouraged each other and discussed words they could make. ¬†“What about Latte?” ¬†“Would Latte be allowed?” ¬†Wordament’s “traffic light colours” instant feedback was very valuable for the students. ¬†Green when they located a word successfully, yellow if they had already located the word and red for letters selected that did not actually form a word. ¬†At the end of the game, students saw a follow-up screen that showed the number of words they had located as well as other “common” and “obscure” words that were not found. ¬†I can see that by taking screenshots of the app, a great deal of follow-up work could also be done. ¬†“What does tritium mean?” ¬†“What does nutria mean?” were the types of responses that could be heard after each game.

After this session, we are certainly looking forward to exploring more opportunities that the Microsoft Surface and Windows 8 can bring to teaching and learning!

*Avatars created with WeeMee and movie created with Animoto.

Loving the Possibilities with QR Codes!

During our January school holidays, I enjoyed reading Jarrod Robinson’s post¬†about QR Codes and their possible uses in education. ¬†Prior to reading his post, I had seen QR Codes but had no idea of their purpose or possible uses.

Since returning to school, I have continued to follow Jarrod’s journey via his tweets on Twitter and have had very worthwhile (and fun!) discussions with my colleagues, Nathan and Stephen.

If you are not familiar with the concept of QR Codes, these sites are all an excellent introduction. A comprehensive site for information and news about QR Codes is the 2D Code site. Links to the Code Readers and Code Generators are particularly helpful.

For me, the first step was being about to use my mobile phone to read QR Codes.  I tested a number of QR Code Readers for the iPhone:

  • 2D Sense (free, includes move and scale feature)
  • Barcodes (free, includes move and scale feature)
  • iDecode (free)
  • NeoReader (free)
  • QR Reader ($2.49)
  • UpCode (Free)
  • Snappr (Free, includes move and scale feature)
It was an interesting exercise as its success appeared to be quite random. ¬†In general, I found that readers with the ability to “move and scale” the code image had a better success rate. ¬†The bigger the code, the easier it was to successfully decode it, whether it was on a computer screen or on paper. ¬†The readers also differed in their speed of decoding.
Overall, my favourite iPhone QR Code Readers were:
  • Barcodes – free, has move and scale feature, decodes quickly, like the way it displays results in a simple format
  • Snappr – free, has move and scale feature, takes a little longer to decode but is able to read a variety of codes that other readers had trouble with
  • QR Reader – if the image is correct, does read the code very quickly

After working out how to actually read a QR Code, I started looking at creating my own codes. Snappr is a great site to generate your own QR Codes. ¬†After signing up, I was “like a kid in a lolly shop” as I explored the different types of codes that could be created!

Snappr allows you to create many types of codes that fall under the headings of Classic, Social and Snappr. Codes can be created quickly and easily then embedded into a site, downloaded to insert into a document or printed on an item.  (Yes, people are printing their own QR Code t-shirts!)  The content of a code can even be edited later so that the actual QR Code image looks the same but the content is different. There are so many exciting possibilities for sharing information on this site.  It is definitely well worth a look! Click on the codes below to view a larger image and see if you can read them! There are four different types of codes to give you a taste of what is possible:


So now the big question is, “How can QR Codes be used in education?” ¬†Again, Jarrod has some exciting ideas in his QR Codes in Education post. ¬†We are particularly interested in looking into the following uses:

  • “The Amazing Race” using QR Codes: Codes could either be printed on a sheet and given to students or displayed in different locations. ¬†Students could then access clues that are not just text-based, but include images, web sites, etc… ¬†This adds a whole new dimension to this type of activity.
  • Sharing resouces with students: Because you can create QR Codes that link to content such as images and audio files, students can easily access these items via their mobile phones. ¬†This could have exciting possibilities for student access to content such as podcasts.
  • QR Codes on library books: ¬†During a Twitter discussion, Jarrod suggested QR Codes on library books with a link to a web site, audio file, etc… with additional information about the book. ūüôā
  • Add QR Codes to printed materials: If you need to give a printed copy of information to students, you can add QR Codes with links to online resources. ¬†Students are then able to easily access this extra content without the need for a computer.
  • Voting via QR Codes:¬†Snappr allows you to create codes that link to an online voting system. This is a great way to quiz your students or gauge their opinions. ¬†¬†
  • Create a Snappr Micropage: Snappr also allows you to create a Micropage. This is a basic web page with a title, images, text and URLs. ¬†The page is optimized for viewing on a mobile phone.
This is just a starting point. As I have discovered on so many occasions, educators are amazing when it comes to “thinking outside the square” and I am sure there will be many more suggestions for innovative ways to use QR Codes in education.
For a list of sites about QR Codes and related information, please go to my links on Delicious.
You can also view some screenshots about this post on my Flickr set, QR Codes in Education.
At our school, I am looking forward to displaying some QR Codes in our Computer Centre and around the school to generate some interest in this exciting technology. ¬†I think this prize might be the first reward I offer: ūüėČ