So now you know:
- What a QR code is
- What you need to have in order to use them
- Four ways to make them quickly and easily
Now you need to know:
- What to do with them!
There are so many ways, but I didn’t want to get ahead of myself (or yourself) and just focus on a few small ways to get started and point you in a direction if you want some more materials. I have been dabbling in them for two years, but I am really focusing on taking off with them next year. So here are some ways I have already tried and some I will be jumping in with next year! These are in no particular order. Start with the one that is most useful to you!
Top Ten Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom
1. Communicate with parents-
Do you already have a webpage for parents to get information on what is happening in the classroom (if you don’t, get on that)? Create a QR code and add it to newsletters, permission slips, and more. On http://www.qrstuff.com, there are lots of project ideas for helping people find your contact information using QR codes. I am going to try the business card idea! Have them printed as magnets and parents will always know the best way to get information!
TIP: Make sure you tell parents what that funny-looking pixel-thing is for! Don’t just assume they know what they are and how to access them.
2. Easily navigate to frequently visited websites-
Do your students use tablets/devices to visit certain websites? Maybe your school has some great subscriptions to PebbleGo or BookFlix. You may have some great free sites that students often visit for educational games or information. Sometimes students have trouble navigating to them and a QR code could be helpful! Make QR codes for those you use most often and post them in your classroom along with an icon to help kids remember what it is.
TIP: These work best for portable devices with a camera, so not the best choice if students are accessing them on a computer. HOWEVER, you can get QR reader apps for computers as long as there is a camera attached. Students could hold up the code in these cases to access.
3. Create links to popular videos
Do your students bring their own devices? Put QR codes into a projected lesson and all students will get to that video quickly and easily. For elementary students, I know you have some favorite YouTube videos that they want to enjoy again and again. Create a code and post with a picture so students can revisit these videos on their own time! They could be singing songs and listening to stories again and again!
TIP (I have two): 1. Put them in a binder so you conserve precious wall space (WARNING: If you use page protectors, the glare can sometimes affect the reader app). 2. Send a page of them home for families to enjoy them there as well!
4. Create an interactive bulletin board or display
Start easy and just add one code! Last year, we made a video to teach people about Stop, Drop, and Roll! The students in my class helped me create a fire safety bulletin board and we added a code to link people to our video! I put a little message by the code, so people would know what they would be seeing. I sent out a quick email to invite other classes and remind them to bring a device! When you get more comfortable, create a video of each student reading their writing pieces and display the code on their writing in the hall! (Ok, I know the QR code is not on the board in that picture, but imagine it in the middle printed on a single sheet of paper. I clearly took a picture before adding the code because I couldn’t see the future where I would be writing a blog post about this.)
TIP: Create the student video display right before parent conferences or other event. Tell parents ahead of time about the displays, so they bring their devices!
5. Promote independence at any age with videos to model
Create video directions for centers, projects, games, and activities! Get the students involved and have them help you model. Upload your videos in Drive or onto YouTube and create codes to link to them quickly. The codes could be posted on a center, added to a projected lesson, or inserted right onto worksheets/activity pages. If a student has a question, they can just scan and watch your video again!
TIP: Use these when a substitute will be in for you. Now things can be explained just the way you want them to be, by you!
6. More independence with self-checking work
Next time you create a page of problems, worksheet, or activity- fill in that answer key (I know at kindergarten we often feel that an answer key is unnecessary to remind us of 2+2 again…). Upload the answer key into your Drive account and create a QR code to link to it. Make small copies for each student and only pass them out to students who have completed the work. They can check their own work!
TIP: If your answer key needs you to show work or draw something, take a photo of the completed sheet and upload that image as the answer key!
7. “Read” the directions to your students
Are your directions/prompts short and sweet? Then go back to http://www.qrvoice.net and create a code that reads them to your students. No more- “WHAT DOES IT SAY TO DO AGAIN?” This is helpful for center sheets where the question occasionally changes and you get sick of reading it ten (or a million) times while you are trying to lead a guided group! This is a great way to differentiate for older students that need to hear them again and again. Check out a freebie here for an example.
TIP: The codes can be done in another language as well. Have the directions/prompts read in a student’s first language (side note: I haven’t used this and have no way of checking how well they translate because I am not fluent in any other languages.)
8. Practice sight words more effectively
This is more geared at younger students, although you could use it for help with pronouncing new vocabulary. Back at http://www.qrvoice.net you can make codes for individual words. Add the code to the top of a sight word review sheet and students can listen to the word, so they know what it says. I always have students writing words, finding words, tracing words and having NO IDEA what it says! I am also toying with the idea of adding a code to student lists that I differentiate. I made the Dolch words into QR codes- check out words beginning a-d and use them! Please make a copy when prompted! My next project is making the sight words we specifically use in our district (Fountas and Pinnell in case you were curious).
TIP: Make all the codes at once for text and voice, so you can just copy and paste from a single document as needed.
9. Create a website and embed changing content for students
Ok, this one isn’t as simple at first (especially if you are not familiar with creating a simple website), but it has been my most successful QR code use yet! It has been especially nice because we can share it across multiple classrooms. We have a listening center in my classroom and use video read alouds (search for those posted from authors or others who have permission to share these books) for each week’s center. I created a simple GoogleSite and all it has is one video that we change out each week. We plan together as a kindergarten team (so lucky over here) and change out the video each week. The QR code doesn’t have to change (stays posted on the outside of the folder holding their response sheets) and students are used to the routine of listening on the iPads. Best part is, the embedded videos don’t have ads or other videos all around them!
TIP: Save the video links in a GoogleDoc, so you don’t have to search so much the next year! Make sure to check the link and make sure the video is still available.
10. Enhance your classroom library
This is the biggest one I want to incorporate next year. Have students create videos (or short write-ups for older grades) about why they enjoy their book. Make sure you build the lesson around not giving away the book (check out Reading Rainbow book talks for that). Create QR codes and put them right in/on the books in your library. Students can use these codes to find out more.
TIP: Pass this on to your librarian and work as a school to enhance the library for everyone! How fun would that be to watch the videos at home. (If you are a librarian who does, please comment and let us know about it!)
So now I don’t feel that I have left you out to dry. Here are 10 (there may be even more if you get technical) ways to get you started. I can’t wait to hear how it goes. Get started now and create some materials to use when school starts! Let’s review!
TIP: CHECK ALL CODES BEFORE USING!