QR Codes: Journals & Openers

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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.

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