I've heard tell that necessity is the mother of invention. What I like about summer is that it gives me time to think about what worked, what didn't work, and what drove me absolutely crazy in my classroom the previous year.
What you have to know about my classroom is that it's structured by Read 180. Three stations, 20 minutes a station. I tend to run into a problem when a student finishes his book and wants something else to read. While I'm teaching the small group, he'll come, interrupt the flow, and ask what he should read next. I understand that most of the students I get are reluctant readers, I want them to learn to be independent reluctant readers. If twenty minutes is all I have with a group, I want to be able to use all 20 of those minutes and not take a quarter of them book talking to another student (not that I mind book talking--the timing is just inconvenient).
That prompted me to start making YouTube videos of my book talks. With any luck, I can get my channel unblocked at school and have a computer station set up so to the viewing of these videos can be done independently. If that doesn't work, I had another idea, which became my project for the summer.
Last school year I saw many conversations on Twitter about QR codes and using QR codes for comments. It wasn't until this summer and reading this blog post that I really understood what QR codes were and figured out how I could use them. To address my problem of being interrupted while teaching by a student who wanted a new book -- a problem I don't mind having because it means they're reading -- I decided to create QR codes that link to various YouTube videos and commentaries about books. These barcodes will be taped to the inside of the books at the beginning or end, and students can use my phone to access the content.
The fact that my phone is the device necessary for this project to work has beenthe only snag. Because YouTube is blocked, and because I want my students to be able to read whatever commentary from wherever on the web, and because I won't connect my iPhone to the wireless in my classroom, it seems like the best choice. Students have used my devices before without too much incident -- iPod nano to watch videos from Skeleton Creek and Trackers or listening to audiobooks -- so I'm not too worried. There will be ground rules. But I think having the video option will help those students who have a hard time reading the back cover of a book and deciding whether or not they want to read it.
I'll let you know how it goes.