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.

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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 History.com’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.

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