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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Interactive Bulletin Boards - Guest Post

As my students have transitioned more and more into creating digital projects over the last few years, I have struggled with ways to showcase their work in a community that does not always possess the tools to access the World Wide Web. Lately, I’ve been playing with the idea of bringing together the digital and “real” worlds in their projects. My students yearn for outside feedback, but rarely get it when they post their work on a blog or in an Internet gallery. Thus, after reading a post about Transliteracy, my Interactive Bulletin Board was born.


Using a project from Read Write Think about Parallel Poems and an art project from Princeton Online, the students had a beautiful 2-D Bulletin Board to display in our hallway.  But, I wanted to bring its viewers into the digital world as well, so I used a few tricks to engage the audience - QR codes, a puzzle, and an iPad.

First, I mixed up the artwork and poetry on the board so that they weren’t matched with each other.  Then I placed QR codes on the artwork that led the reader to an audio file in which the artist/poet read his or her poem.  I also placed QR codes that led the reader to Google Forms online that allowed the viewer to vote on their favorite pieces of art and poetry. This was a hit with my own students, but I wanted to widen the audience, so I then sent out e-mails to surrounding classrooms offering the loan of some of our classroom iPads so that their students could experience the bulletin board, too.

The teachers who volunteered to participate were not very familiar with either iPads or QR codes, but they thought their students would enjoy the opportunity.  With a few instructions, the students themselves (third grade) were able to tutor each other as small groups strolled over to our hallway to view the board. For almost a week, there were students standing in front of our board with iPads, discussing the art and poetry, trying to match them up, and giving their input on the work.  It was the most feedback we have ever gotten on student work - virtual or otherwise.

The success of this “pilot” has definitely made me want to branch out to other ideas - codes linked to videos or blog posts so viewers can comment, a bulletin board in the library to reach an even wider audience, etc... 

Students find QR codes engaging.  Sure, the novelty will wear off in a few years, but we can certainly take advantage of it now to enhance learning.  For a few more ideas on how you can use QR codes in the classroom in novel ways, such as for classroom coupons, check out my blog at http://engagetheirminds.com, and do a search for QR codes, or you can just click here. 

About the Blogger
Terri Eichholz is a teacher of Gifted and Talented students in North East Independent School District in San Antonio, TX.  This is her 21st year of teaching and learning from her students.  You can find her blog, Engage Their Minds:  Different Ideas for Different Thinkers, at http://engagetheirminds.com

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