Archive for QR Codes

QR Codes Part Deux: Week in Review

           Friday Dialogue from                

                                      Your Two Favorite Educators 

As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to discuss QR Codes revisited and Bring it On!

1.  Why is it so significant to choose tech for the classroom that can be used in a variety of ways?

Emily:  Students learn in different ways.  Providing flexibility in assignments, materials, texts, and technology is important to help students learn more effectively.

Aubrey: I think “flexible” tech provides teachers the ability to become experts.  Part of what scares all of us away from using technology in the classroom is whether or not we can use it again and again.  If the answer is no, I’ll never use this medium again why bother?  I want applications that can serve in a variety of capacities.

2.  Why is it important that we revisit past lessons we’ve share via ?

Emily:  I think it is extremely important.  When working on a post I am often overwhelmed with everything I could incorporate.  As a result, there are many What does Emily say?weeks when I say to myself “I’ll just have to do another week of this topic.”  I think it is really important to revisit QR codes (and really anything technology based).  Technology keeps expanding and our knowledge of how to use it in the classroom keeps expanding.  It isn’t like teaching Shakespeare, which never changes.  Technology evolves so rapidly that we need to keep presenting ideas and ways to incorporate it into the classroom.

Aubrey: I feel the same way.  Revisiting areas of focus proves that culture, technology, current events–all of it plays a huge part in what shapes a humanities class is shaped.  I would be worried if we didn’t revisit ideas and lessons.

3.  Does the QR code enhance daily life?  Or, is it simply a detractor that provides too much extra and unnecessary information for the individual?

Emily:  It certainly makes things easier.  However, I don’t think they “provide too much extra and unnecessary information.”  Instead, my biggest fear with QR codes is just how easy it makes research.  QR codes make me curious about the ways in which students’ research abilities could be compromised.  Of course, this is years away and achieved through more things than just QR codes, but it is a long-term concern of mine.

Aubrey: Love it.  Don’t care if it provides me with too much information.  I want to know everything if only for a second.  Now, it is clear to me that after I look up this information I will immediately forget it and then be forced to look it up again later on.  This matters very little to me.  I need to know.



4.  Are QR codes just a fad?

Emily:  I know I’m not supposed to say this, but I do think they are a fad.  They keep popping in and out of trend reports.  I feel like they are seen more now but dwindled in use in the winter months.  I like the efficiency of them and think they are helpful in navigating directly to a page but just don’t know how lasting they are.

Actually I think they’re a fad too.  I’m fairly certain we won’t be talking about them in 10 years.  They are a fun little gadget and they’re good for directing students to material but I do find them somewhat ugly.

This week I’ve provided several model assignments focusing on student choice and QR codes.   Please participate in the model lesson  below.


Pop Culture via QR Codes

Please choose one of the QR codes below.  Review the material and construct a response that identifies the tone and big picture importance.  

Bring it on?

Choice #2


Choice #1






Emily:  I choose QR code #2:  Bring It On the Musical.  This play came to Chicago and I begged my friends to go with me.  They refused.  I am now What does Emily say?without the musical interludes of Torrence Shipman.  I will never forgive them for this.  I can’t focus on the tone because I’m blinded by how perfect the musical is.  It highlights the capitalistic nature of our society through the rise of a poor school being able to compete at Nationals.  Bring It On is the true American classic.  Bottom line.


Aubrey:  Hah!  I knew you’d choose two.  I on the other hand am much more interested in Adam Levine & Christina Aguilera’s feud.  Don’t tell anyone but I like to watch The Voice.  Usually in secret.  It’s shameful but there you have it.

QR Codes: Final Projects

Too often, I find myself trying to come up with intensively specific projects for students.  Massive amounts of two-sided, collated and stapled assignments consisting of multiple steps and checkpoints.  This intense need to plan for every single aspect is probably rooted in the very real understanding that students procrastinate.  They need guidelines. However, the level of intense project creation that then falls upon me is crushing.  Constantly tweaking, changing and revising the steps only helps to further sour me on the actual assignment itself.

What I want is a creative assignment to end a novel or a unit of study.  One that easily proves students can think critically and problem solve.  One that has them implement technology.  One that has them actually create something related to my class, that practices skill sets learned in my class and that proves them thoughtful and creative.  Did I mention that I would like it to be of their own design?


This is a lot to ask of teens.  They need guidance to think outside of the test prep bubble in which they’ve existed since elementary school.  So think of this project like an assignment in creativity, problem solving, big picture thinking, writing OR like a James Bond style mission, that is of course if you choose to accept it.

Novel/Unit Project with QR Focus Basic
1.  The goal of a project like this is to give students a list of tools and a general overview of rules.  Their job then becomes creating the project guidelines and the final product.  Think Fed-ex Day but with some determined parameters/tools.  Focused on novel or unit but on any aspect the students choose.
2.  Set expectations and tools for the assignment.  If you’re going for the element of surprise, split students into groups.  Hand each group a paper bag filled with the tools they’re allowed to use.  Example:

  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close QR lesson (This gives you that 007 feel.)
  • Images of tools they can use (This gives you that MacGyver feel.)
    • Cell Phones
    • QR Codes
    • Computers
    • Any other tool you want to throw in for good measure

3.  Ask that they construct an “official” assignment that could be used in a “real” course.  They should pick an idea, issue or part of the book to highlight.  Examples might include a QR Map of Holden Caulfield’s adventures in NYC or an assignment that asks students to use QR codes in

4.  Ask that they set achievable and challenging goals for each week.

5.  Provide class time for achieving these goals.

6.  Ask that they present their final project and product.

QR Codes: Poetry & Speech Units

It’s clear to me that students don’t understand tone.  Not one bit.  They just don’t hear the inflection.  It’s not as if they don’t try; they just misread.  Over and over again.  And while I’d love to do all the “voices” for them in every single text we read there simply isn’t the time.

In order to combat student “deafness,” QR codes offer the ability for students to listen clearly to text as performance.  Consider a unit of study that depended on students listening and reviewing.

While QR codes could be used to direct students to any type of podcast, they are incredibly helpful for teaching poetry and short speeches.  In such a context, students have the ability to choose their own “text” and listen, review, take notes, even evaluate.

Imagine an assignment where before being given the text or speech or poem, they’re made to choose based on title alone.  To ask them to construct a choice by simply examining a title is a lesson in itself.  This type of an assignment allows students choice, teaches listening skills and focuses on the significance of tone.  To begin with, consider using resources like The Writer’s Almanac or The Poetry Foundation.  They both offer wonderful readings that can easily be turned into QR codes.  If you’d rather use speeches, try’s wonderful resource of audio and video speeches including many from presidents.  American Rhetoric also offers MP3 audio files for many of its top 100 speeches.

Basic Assignment Overview

  1. Review our QR Tutorial to use web address to create QR Codes.
  2. Ask that students bring Smartphones, tablets or iPods as well as headphones.
  3. Offer students two QR codes for two different “texts.”  Provide them the title and/or speaker.
  4. Ask that students simply listen and construct a series of observations.  If your QR codes are for speeches you might ask students to SOAPSTone based simply on what they hear.
  5. Provide students the actual text for their choice.  Have them listen a second time and annotate looking specifically towards how tone is created.
  6. Ask them to construct an overall evaluation/review of the text’s tone.

While the steps are simple and the idea unoriginal, the purpose ultimately is to get them to listen.  Too often they resign themselves as soon as we pass out paper.  Instead, ask them to listen first and respond second.  Providing them a “second” reading is crucial and listening offers them the ability to truly reflect upon style, purpose and tone.  I’ve included a sample poetry based lesson featuring QR codes as an example of how something like this could work.

QR Codes: Journals & Openers

Sometimes I feel at the beginning of class that my act is huge flop.  It’s tough to know how to start.  Classroom management, attention and engagement rarely occur simultaneously.   And no matter the variety of journal prompts or moral/ethical debates outlined students frequently treat this “opening” work like a chore.

Within this realm, QR codes can become an incredibly practical application.  Imagine being able to implement media literacy along with student choice.  Imagine a written response or evaluation.  Imagine students happy to discuss in small groups or with the class as a whole their own perspective on the podcast or video that they digested after scanning a QR Code.

Opening Activity: Choose Your Own Adventure

Okay so not every student will chortle with delight when you explain that “adventure” in this case means choosing their own QR Code.  But you will peak their interest when you explain that these QR cods will take them to a short podcast or video that will require to explore a moral/ethical dilemma or an area of focus your are currently studying.   Using the QR code is simply the vehicle via which they begin an opening critical thinking exercise.  The goal is not to replace writing.  Instead the end result should be a list of student constructed essential questions and a written argument about the material.  Below is an example of what this type of lesson demands of students.

  1. Ask in advance that students bring headphones and Smartphones
  2. Provide students 2-3 QR codes from which to choose.   Each QR code should direct them to a short video or short podcast that raises big picture issues.  TED’s “short talks” would be a good resource from which to select or UPENN’s 60 Second Lectures.  If you’re teaching poetry you might provide QR codes that link to episode’s of NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Kellior.
  3. Ask that students listen to or watch their choice at least twice.
  4. Have them complete a listening, questioning and reviewing activity in their journals.

While this is simple it will help jump-start your class.  Pick videos or podcasts that complement the material you are teaching or that highlight a skill set students are practicing.  Here is an QR JOURNALS Example.

QR Codes Part Deux: Overview

Implementing tech is daunting.  It requires that teacher be both troubleshooter and cheerleader.   Things go wrong when students and technology mix.  Computers are slow.  Students are impatient.  I’ve answered the same question about text boxes three times.  It’s enough to make the best of us say, “Take out your copies of The Things They Carried and read silently.”

People can argue all they want that the digital native now sits in every seat in every classroom, but I don’t buy it.  Students are just as frustrated, impatient and incapable as I am.  They can’t figure out how to import video or change font size either.  This is, of course, why any type of worthwhile classroom technology must have multiple applications.  Technology that is multipurpose helps teachers with troubleshooting and students with familiarity.

In an effort to do just that, this week we revisit the QR code.  As far as “tech” goes, it’s simple.  So simple that in these waning days of the school year you could easily implement a QR code activity with little trouble and impressive results.   When we posted about QR in the classroom this past November our goal was to teach students the role of QR codes in society and to revamp classroom learning stations into QR stations.  This time we’ll post on how QR can extend classroom learning, provide student choice and teach students to evaluate/review areas of focus.

Our previous posts are listed below to get you started.

  1. QR Background & Infographic
  2. QR Tutorial
  3. QR Codes in Popular Culture
  4. QR Learning Stations
  5. QR Week in Review

QR Codes: Week in Review

              Friday Dialogue from             Your Two Favorite Educators 

As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to assess their innermost feelings about helping students writing analysis. 

1.     What are your thoughts about cell phones in the classroom?
Emily:  As long as they aren’t  taking photos of me on their cell phones and then posting them on their Facebook page I don’t really care.  Cell phones are so prevalent that it is virtually impossible to stop them from using them in class.  Some of them can even text without pulling their phone out of their pocket.  That’s impressive.  I think they should be rewarded for their dexterity.

Aubrey: I think cell phones in the classroom can be useful but it has to be for more than just looking up facts about F.Scott Fitzgerald.  We have to monitor how they are used.  Otherwise all that crazy texting through your pocket makes me, well, crazy.  Here’s what I wonder.  What can you possibly have to text to people who  a).  you just saw and b). you spend every waking minute with?   I called my husband this morning on the phone after I just left the house and let’s just say the reminder I gave him was not well received.  And remember we are MARRIED.  When I imagine a world in which I text him as much as my students text each other I imagine a world in which I am no longer married to anyone. Read more

QR Codes: Non-Fiction Lesson

There are a multitude of great QR classroom uses out there already.  In fact the Daring Librarian has a great post from December of 2010 about different QR codes and a great video about how they were used in one high school for multiple classrooms.

Today, I’m going to offer one approach to using QR codes in the English classroom.  This is quite simply a teacher driven, small groups at stations, QR code assignment. Keep in mind this post is quite lengthy so as to give you an activity and an example of how to use this with Fast Food Nation.

The purpose: to extend student learning on topics that relate to a non-fiction book.

Things to consider: You may, depending on  your means, want students to use ipods, phones and ipads.  A bigger screen would be useful if you plan on having students use any of the articles below.  You may also want to encourage your students to share devices.  You’ll absolutely want them to bring headphones as some of the QR codes, when scanned, link to videos and podcasts.

Non-Fiction, Teacher Generated QR Codes

This activity could be used at anytime during the study of a unit of novel. The goal: create a deeper/broader understanding of the concepts studied.  Choose a series of articles, podcasts, images, cartoons, etc. that could be easily used for synthesizing a larger understanding.  I’ve chosen Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation as an example because non-fiction may be an easier way for you to attempt this type of activity.  Resources should also be easier to find. Read more

QR Codes: Popular Culture

So you’re not quite sold yet on QR codes.  They seem complicated and time consuming.  Let’s make this easier.  Let’s start with their role in society.  Today’s post will provide you some resources for analyzing the role of technology, specifically QR codes, within society.  Each “piece” offers a different opportunity to have students read or view, annotate and critically think.

QR Codes as Art

Cnet, the tech website, offers a brief article about using the QR code as art.  They provide several photo and a cost range for QR codes framed and on canvass.  The article is great for:

  • Discussing the intersection of technology and art
  • Debating the idea of art
  • Discussing QR codes influence on popular culture

See Mashable’s list of QR codes that offer functionality as well as beauty for an extension. Read more

QR Codes: Tutorial

You’re ready to take the QR plunge you think but then you go to the App store on your phone and realize there are three thousand different QR code readers and you get stuck reading all of the reviews and then you get upset that there are so many and that people actually get to review anything online because it doesn’t help you decide.  I understand this!  Perhaps I even feel the same way.

QR Applications for Smart Phones

Because there are so many I’ve narrowed it down.  Both are free. Read more

QR Codes: Overview

QR codes are everywhere but I rarely see people actually pull out their phones and scan the black and white squares.  Personally, I do it all the time.  I need to know. It doesn’t matter if it’s product endorsements, MTV video clips or free coupons for money off Dove Soap bars, I need to know.  Yes, I was that kid who would look for their Christmas gifts and/or try to unwrap them ahead of time.  I need to know.

Infographic originally published on, found via


What peaks my interest (aside from figuring out what my gifts will be in the near future), is how QR codes are used in both popular culture and the classroom. The intersection between the two is immense.  See the infographic above from one of our “favorites.”

This week we’ll do things a bit differently. Tuesday we’ll offer a brief tutorial about how/where to create QR codes and which apps to use.  Wednesday we’ll offer up some articles that you can use to introduce a QR project or just employ as pieces that make insightful arguments about culture and technology.  Thursday we’ll offer a practical classroom use.  Friday, well, Friday we’ll be our humorous and engaging selves.

This week is just a taste of how you can use QR codes.  We plan on taking a run at it again in 2012!

So here you go.  To those of you who are already QR savvy, see if you can resist the temptation of scanning.