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Wednesday
Dec152010

How I use QR codes in the classroom

By Cameron Romney

Over on the EdTech blog, Kimberly talks about Quick Response (QR) codes and how she uses them in the classroom. QR codes are something that I have been using for years and is something that I have talked about before (you might have seen one of my presentations about it at Tech Day), so I thought I would post something here on the Osaka JALT blog about them as well.

Hands down my favorite use of a QR code in the classroom is to give the students the answers to their homework. In many of my classes I give the students a handout that has extra activities for in class on the front and a homework assignment on the back. Of course, with hundreds of students each week, I couldn’t be checking each assignment myself and I didn’t want to leave the students in the dark. I was tempted to give the students another handout with the answers, but that just seemed like a waste of paper. I also thought about writing the answers on the board, but that seemed like a huge waste of class time and I don’t think my arm would be up to writing the same answers again and again for each section I was teaching. Instead, I create a QR with the answers embedded right in the code and put it on the top of the next week’s homework assignment. Students can scan the code with their cell phones and check their answers at their leisure.

This system has worked out great. I have avoided using extra paper and kept my blackboard free for class activities. My favorite QR code generator is Kaywa. Just select the ‘text’ radio button and start typing. When you are finished, chose the size that you want and click ‘generate’. A QR code will appear on the screen; right mouse click it, copy and paste into your document. It’s that easy. Keep in mind that the more you type, the denser the code will be and students might have trouble scanning it if your copy machine doesn’t make clear copies.

Below is what one of my handouts looks like:




Saturday
Dec112010

Mido-suji Illumination and Osaka Hikari-Renaissance

Starting tonight and running until Christmas night (Osaka Hikari Renaissance) and January 11, 2011 (Mido-suji Illumination) are two of our favorite seasonal events in Osaka, the Midosuji Illumination and the Osaka Hikari-Renaissance or Renaissance of Light in Osaka. 

These illumination events take place along Mido-suji and in the whole Nakanoshima area of Osaka-city (just south of Umeda). The main highlights of Osaka Hikari-Renaissance are at Osaka City Hall and Nakanoshima Park. More information about Osaka Hikari-Renaissance can be found in English on the official website HERE. More informatoin about the Mido-suji Illumination can be found in Japanese on the Osaka Prefectural website HERE.

The easiest way to get there is to take the Midosuji Subway Line to Yodoyobashi Station and walk north to Nakanoshima for Osaka Hikari-Renaissance. Walk south along Mido-suji for the Mido-suji Illumination.

Friday
Dec102010

Teacher burnout and weight loss

By Cameron Romney

In the current issue of the Language Teacher (Nov/Dec 2010), Joseph Falout writes another great article about motivation, specifically about some of the psychological pressures facing non-Japanese teachers working in Japan and how these pressures lead to burnout.

He begins the article by giving the reader a laundry list of some of the problems that Non-Japanese teachers face while living and working in Japan. Some of these problems include “work in insecure and uncertain contexts” and “high stakes testing goals and rigid curricular policies” (p. 27) and even workplace “bullying and mobbing” (p. 30).

His list, for me, is unfortunately all too familiar; reading through it was like looking in a mirror. Everything that he listed I have experienced. Not on his list is the most demotivating kind of incident that I have experienced – a lack of respect from the students. This comes in many forms, from the direct, like having a students say to me, “I hate English, I hate this class and I hate you” to more subtle, like a student bringing a pillow to class to make his naptime more comfortable.

The most disturbing is when students intentionally make fun of me. Maybe it’s just an Osaka thing; there are so many comedians here. Nevertheless, it always happens in Japanese and usually early in the semester before the students find out that I understand what they are saying. For example, on the first day of class in April this year, I walked in and student said, in a loud voice for the benefit of his classmates, “Wow! Look at the teacher. He is so fat! He’s definitely got metabo (metabolic syndrome). He must eat at McDonald’s everyday!”

Of course what the student said was correct, I do suffer from metabolic syndrome, I was obese and I did regularly eat at McDonalds, but no one likes to hear directly, especially not in a comic tone of voice. However, these comments inspired me to lose weight and I am happy to say that after seven months I have lost nearly 20 kilograms (44 pounds).

I will continue to struggle with my weight and I hope to lose even more in the coming months. So, all I can say to Masahiro is… by being a complete jerk you’ve motivated me to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. So, thank you... I guess. Oh and you still fail you cheeky bugger. Good luck in the repeaters class next year.