Lee Hewes

is totes becoming a teacher…

Spice Up Your (tote) Tray

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So tote trays are a thing. Every classroom has them. Most kids use them, some more tidily than others, and a staple beginning of the year activity in primary schools where I work is to get students designing their tray labels as classes settle in.
As the summer holidays drew to a close and I started thinking about what I’d be doing with my class in the first few weeks, I came up with an idea about making this whole tote tray label process more interesting and how technology might play a role. For whatever reasons (I’m guessing lockdowns, time spent engaging with my devices, checking into supermarkets, etc.) GIFS and QR codes came to mind. I thought, ‘How about I get my 4/5 class to make GIFs of their tote tray labels as they’re made, add them to a presentation, and have them add a QR code to their tray labels which links to said GIF?’.

I had no idea how to do this.

Thankfully, the Internet is a wonderful place, full of information, resources and tutorrials that can help you in this endeavour, if you wish to do so.

I very quickly stumbled upon this post, which gave me the general gist of how I’d get the process underway. I went down the Photoshop pathway.

I borrowed a set of iPads from the school library and put together a makeshift GIF studio by tacking the tablets to the table and making frames for the labels with pins. The 4/5H students then had to take square ratio (1:1) photos of the label at each step of the process and save them to an album under their name. These were then AirDropped to me and added to each student’s drive folder. Having a 4/5 class made this process work quite smoothly as I was able to set up stations which were assigned to the year 4 boys/girls or the year 5 boys/girls, so everyone knew where they needed to be.

Once they had done this, students needed to save their photos to the desktop of each group’s allocated computer and go through the Photoshop process outlined in the post I linked to above. I did change the way we went about this by adding each frame one-by-one instead of creating each frame from the stack of images. It just seemed more intuitive and allowed students to see what was happening behind the scenes.

Each student then made a Google Slides presentation, changing the background of the slide to their GIF by uploading it from the desktop of their group’s assigned computer. We changed the sharing settings to public and then created a QR code by pasting the link into a QR code generator. The codes were then added to their original labels, photocopied and laminated.

So now my class have some interactive tote tray labels.

‘Why bother?’, I hear you ask.

‘I don’t know,’ is my reply.

I guess because it’s less boring than your regular beginning of the year tote tray label making activity. Also, we’re now at the point in time where parents are coming back into schools, and having them scan QR codes and see student-created GIFs is kinda cool.
Furthermore, we learned a stack along the way.

Here are some student samples:





Thanks for reading.

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