Sunday, August 11, 2013

Using QR Codes in the Classroom

*If you need to know the QR code "basics," visit this blog post. 

Think QR codes are cool, but you're still unsure how to use them in your classroom?

Test your QR code scanning skillz here
Below is a list of ways I've thought of and/or read about in various places around the web. Some ideas are best for secondary students, and some are best for elementary kiddos. If I found the idea elsewhere, I linked up to it, so just click the idea to go to the original source. 
  1. Manage library materials. The Technology Tips blog connected QR codes to a Google doc, printed the codes on stickers, and attached them to library materials. Students could then check out/in materials by scanning the code.
  2. Excite students about upcoming material. Scott Sibberson blogged about connecting a QR code to the "picture of the week" and using it as sort-of an anticipatory set to get students thinking about upcoming information.
  3. Writing prompts: connect a QR code to a writing prompt (text or picture...I've heard of people using National Geographic's picture of the day as a daily bellringer writing prompt!) and ask students to scan it upon entering the room. They could then use the text/picture they receive as "writing fuel."
  4. Assess. Scott Sibberson also blogged about connecting QR codes to quiz websites (like QuizStar) and asking students to take the quizzes either inside or outside of class.
  5. Allow absent students to catch up. Mr. Sibberson also suggested linking QR codes to the assessment/assignment of the day and posting each individual QR code on a large class calendar. Absent students could scan the QR code to have immediate access to information they missed. Since you can link a QR code to pretty much anything, you could show kids the Prezi presentation you made, a YouTube clip that enhanced learning, a PDF-version of the assignment, a picture slideshow of their classmates completing physical/social activity...whatever!
  6. Report bullying. I really love this idea, captured on livinglocurto's Instagram: use a QR code to connect to a Bully-reporting website or hotline! I'm not sure how practical it is -- I know a lot of kids wouldn't want to be caught scanning that code, but maybe the QR code would make it so "cool" that everyone would be scanning it, just to have something to scan. (Remember, part of the fun of QR codes is the novelty of it at this point!)
  7. Link to counseling/medical websites/assessments. Counselors (or teachers) could generate QR codes to suicide hotlines, informational websites about ADD or ADHD, etc. and post them around the school or in their office. School counselors could generate a QR code to a questionnaire about certain issues. For instance, if a student wanted to get a quick-read about whether or not she was depressed (to know if it was something she needs talk to an adult about), this student could scan a QR code to a quick checklist of attributes that a depressed person usually has. If she checked positive for x number of the attributes, she would know to talk to an adult about what could potentially be clinical depression. This might be great for junior high and high school students, where a quick scan of a QR code is all you need to get the information. A lot of times, those students are too embarrassed to stand and study information on a poster like that, so the ability to scan and read on the go would be invaluable.
  8. Get directions. Attach a QR code to a Mapquest or Google Maps link and put it on fliers for Open Houses or seminars, particularly if you have a large school district. People could scan the code and be given directions as to how to get to an event.
  9. Give more info about school events. Attach addresses/contact information to QR codes and put them on things like basketball schedules or StuCo meeting sign.
  10. Present. When giving a presentation in class, instead of handing out paper copies of your presentation to everyone, maybe you just hand them a QR code to scan and view while you explain. (Or eliminate paper completely by posting the QR code on your IWB.)
  11. Flip your classroom. Create a QR code to a video or presentation you've made for each topic. Hand out the code before class ends and let the students watch the presentations at home.
  12. Make text interactive. For textbooks or novels, create a QR code that links to a Wallwisher or specific Twitter hashtag. Give copies of the code to all students and ask them to participate in a discussion on that text. 
  13. Find something interesting to read. Ask students to review books in the classroom library on some type of website (Shelfari?). Afterwards, generate a QR code, print it onto a sticker, and stick it to the back of the library book. I love that students can get instant access to classmates' reviews -- those reviews are so powerful!
  14. Go on a treasure hunt. Primary Bits and Bytes says teachers could create a treasure hunt for students using QR codes. Each QR code would have to take students to a clue -- text, graphic, video, podcast of you speaking a riddle...whatever! -- that they would use to find the next clue in the hunt.
  15. Go on a textbook/novel hunt. My instructor during a Great Expectations course for secondary students detailed how to do a textbook hunt (basically asking students to get "the big picture" by way of a competitive worksheet activity), but I know there's got to be a way to incorporate QR codes! I'm still working on developing this one... when I figure it out, I'll let ya know. :)
  16. Student-made explanation videos. Primary Bits and Bytes suggests asking students to make YouTube videos to explain how they reached the end of math problems. Instead of just writing the answer, students make the videos and attach them to the book or answer sheet for you to watch/grade.
  17. Homework help: generate a QR code to a homework help website, a helpful YouTube explanation video, etc. on the top of homework. If students struggle at home with the assignment, they could review extra explanations instantly. You could also link to a special Twitter hashtag that would act as a forum for students to discuss the homework.
  18. Feedback: Primary Bits and Bytes sticks a code on the front of a student's binder/folder/journal and uses it as a way to add feedback. You could also do this for homework. I LOVE this idea!
  19. Student-parent-teacher message system: what if we made a private blog page/Wallwisher wall for each student in the class? We could generate QR codes and give them to each student and parent. Throughout the year, that could be used as on-going feedback to evaluate not only assignments, but behavior and social growth, as well. I suppose it could also be used as sort of an instant messager system to relay information like absences or transportation changes. I'm not sure on the logistics of this one, since it would take some time to scan 20+ codes every day... Hmm. I'll brainstorm some more about this one and get back to you. 
  20. E-portfolios: students could link up to their Dropbox, LiveBinders, or Symbaloo accounts, and teachers could use the codes to quickly access progress or give final grades.
  21. Link to "virtual 'fridge." When I taught English, I had a "virtual 'fridge" on my class website, and I used it to display wonderful class work on the web. What if we continued with that idea, but we generated a QR code to that "'fridge" and sent it home with students at the beginning of the year? Everyone -- not just visitors to my website -- could see the outstanding work done by the students. Parents could scan it weekly while they're waiting on dinner to cook; it could be a great, positive dinner conversation topic. 
  22. Hallway decor: use QR codes in hallway decor for Open House or conference nights. You could display students' pictures (or self-portraits) on the bulletin board, and attach a QR code to their latest and greatest achievement right next to each student. Parents could get a "quick response" on what positive things have been happening for that kid lately! This would be easy to update as the year went on, since you'd just change the content of the webpage (not the actual QR code).
  23. Spice up test reviews. {This Pinterest picture was my inspiration for this suggestion.} Create QR codes to questions or material you'd like students to review prior to the test. 
  24. Teacher contact info: as mentioned in my original post about QR codes, you could always put your contact information in the form of a QR code on a class syllabus or even at the bottom of your class newsletter! Parents/students could scan the code and automatically have their phones call or text you for help/information. An even cooler idea for this one: use VistaPrint to create a bunch of cheap, business-card-sized magnets with your QR code contact information, and hand them out at "Meet the Teacher."
  25. Take attendance/lunch count. Using Google docs or Survey Monkey, create a warm-up question for the day. Generate a code for it, and post the code by the door or the front of the room. Take attendance by seeing who responded to the warm-up. The warm-up could be a multiple-choice review...or you could "quiz" elementary students over what kind of lunch they'd like for the day -- attendance and lunch count, all in one!
  26. Keep kids safe on a field trip. Prior to a field trip with younger students, you could link contact information for the school to a QR code, and print the codes onto square stickers. Each student could be required to wear the sticker all day long. It's more subtle than student name tags (which can be dangerous) and less expensive than matching t-shirts! ...If you planned on doing this often, you could always print your QR code onto something more heavy-duty, like a bracelet or necklace, and hand those out to the kids prior to the trip. Their ticket off the bus and to their home is to give you back the QR coded accessory. :)
  27. Let students self-check homework. As per Classroom in the Cloud: for daily homework or a study guide, link a QR code to the answers, and place the code at the bottom or on the backside of the handout. Allow students to check their own answers.
  28. Meet the Open House. Also from  Classroom in the Cloud: Have each teacher create a picture slideshow or video that tells about themselves and post the QR codes to those shows on the classroom door. Parents/students can scan the codes to "meet" teachers.
  29. Meet the teacher...early. Attach "Meet the Teacher" QR codes (discussed in number twenty-eight) to every kid's schedule or "welcome back" newsletter when it is mailed/given out prior to the beginning of the school year?
  30. Meet the teacher...even when he/she is absent. Also spinning off of number twenty-eight, if you had to leave during conference night or Open House  night, perhaps you could post an introductory/explanatory video (in the form of a QR code) on your door so that everyone could still "talk" to you, even though you couldn't be there! Make sure to state your contact information or post another QR code that links to it so that parents could have another opportunity to speak with you.
  31. Host a chat. Link a QR code to a Twitter hashtag or special chatroom so that parents and students could chat with you.
  32. Give a bus tour on a field trip. Also via Classroom in the Cloud: create a series of graphic/video QR codes prior to a field trip. Pass out the codes and tell kids when to scan them. It's like a personal tour without you having to yell it over the roar of the bus! 
  33. Assess a field trip. Along the same lines as number thirty-one: on the way home from a field trip, you could pass out a QR code that's linked to a quiz or writing prompt and allow students to work on the assessment on the way back to school.
  34. Give ELL students extra help. Twitter user @duckinwales suggested attaching audio files to QR codes and giving them to ELL students so they could listen to the correct pronunciation.
  35. Give instructions. Attach an audio file of yourself giving instructions (say, at centers). Students could scan the code when/if they need help or an extra reminder.
  36. Model reading. Teachers of early readers could attach audio files of themselves reading a book. Imagine having a whole library of books with QR codes inside the covers that attach to podcasts of modeled reading!
  37. Link to needed textbooks. Michael Bromby suggests linking an Amazon search for your class's needed reading material for the semester/year onto a QR code. Students will have instant access to the title/author/ISBN of each book needed and can order directly from their smartphone.
  38. Link to a school supply list or wishlist. Post the code(s) on the classroom website or "back to school" newsletter.
  39. Link to your own website. Twitter user @LRDow suggested generating QR codes for each page of your class website and placing those codes directly on the page it links to. To share information with classmates, students only have to pass on the QR codes -- not the entire link.
  40. Give credit to artwork: For art teachers who display students' artwork in your galleries: post a QR code with the child's name and mugshot right next to it so that students are credited with the work without defacing their art with unnecessary writing. 
  41. Let visitors listen to a musical performance. Music teachers could link to a video/audio recording of the choir singing or a grade level performance. 
  42. Link to lesson plans. Upload your lesson plans to your class website and then post a QR code outside your classroom with a link to the lesson plans. Admin only has to scan your code to figure out what your students are learning at that very moment.
  43. Spice up a yearbook. Place QR codes in yearbooks that link to audio and video of students. Assuming the webhost never changed, imagine how amazing it would be to hear yourself and your classmates 20 years later!
  44. Connect with classmates. I used a homework buddy system with my older students: at the beginning of the semester, I ask them to find 4 classmates they think they can trust and to exchange contact information with them. When someone was absent, students didn't come to me to find out what they missed; instead, they asked a homework buddy (or checked our class website). Twitter user @raganmd suggests asking students to fill out contact information (phone numbers, email addresses, personal website URLS) on a website called Jump Scan, and then generating the QR code for each Jump Scan profile. I could easily see this working with my homework buddies program; the information automatically ends up in your phone!
  45. Explain a model. Twitter user @mrrobbo suggests attaching QR codes to physical models. For instance, on a classroom skeleton, attach QR codes with informational videos/links about each part of the body.
  46. "Choose your own adventure" stories: Twitter user @mrrobbo also suggests creating an exciting sentence for a story, and then ask readers to make a decision. If they choose option 1, scan code #1. If they choose option #2, scan code #2. 
  47. Create an on-going class story. Start the class with an exciting sentence or paragraph, generate a QR code to it, and post it on the wall. Students can then write the next portion of the story, generate a QR code to their portion, and add it to the wall. 
  48. Link to audio files. Twitter user @NigelKirkham said he put an audio file in his public Dropbox folder and created a QR code for the public folder's link. Scanning the code enabled users to listen to the file. {You could also link to podcasts.} If you're the lecturing type, this is a great way for students to get information when they miss a class. 
  49. Show definitions on your word wall. Link a QR code to the dictionary definition and put the QR code next to the word so that students can scan it for a quick refresher, if needed. 
  50. Narrate a caption. Perhaps your little students just drew a picture to answer a question, or maybe you're the art teacher, so they're creating lots of wonderful and creative art pieces. Let students record themselves telling others a little bit more about their illustration. Attach that recording to a QR code and paste the code next to the drawing.
  51. Narrate the answer to a problem. One of my best friends is a secondary math teacher, and she has a problem with students who write down the answer without showing their work. So why not have students speak their way through the answer? This could probably work with any subject: give students a higher-level thinking question and ask them to narrate their answer into a recording device. Link the recording to the QR code, and all you have to do is scan the code to listen to their answer. This might be a particularly great idea if you see a lot of cheating in your class -- you'd know instantly if someone wasn't speaking their own homework, and you'd definitely recognize plagiarism if you came across it. 
*Ideas #35, 39, 40, 41, and 42 were found on @TomBarrett's Google docs presentation on ways to use QR codes in the classroom.

Articles About How to Use QR Codes:
Happy QR-ing!

P.S. There's a great website I just found out about that is centered around using QR codes in the classroom! Here's the link in case you'd like to check it out!

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