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By Sarah Guckert • April 5, 2022

QR Codes in the Classroom: An Easy Guide for Beginners

Author: Hilary Speshock eSpark Certified Educator Kindergarten teacher at Beacon Tree Elementary in Utica Community Schools

They seem to be everywhere… grocery stores, shopping malls, the zoo, even your child’s classroom. What are they and more importantly, why are they invading the classrooms? No, I’m not talking about your newest crop of students, I’m referring to QR or Quick Response Codes!

These are the black and white things that you can lock onto with your smartphone or device to see what pops up. Haven’t tried QR codes in the classroom? You really should. They are becoming the hottest thing to hit the tablets in education today. They are being used everywhere from Kindergarten on up through college levels and the students love them!

qrWhat are QR codes?

QR codes are made up digitally using downloadable software or apps depending on your device. They store a myriad of information that displays as soon as you scan the code with your smartphone or tablet. They contain information such as pictures, student work displays, websites, video clips, and many more components. QR codes in the classroom are becoming increasingly more attractive as a way to engage students in their learning.

There are a number of creative ways to introduce QR codes in the classroom and into your curriculum that you can find online, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

Lesson planning with QR codes in the classroom

Some of the things I have done or have seen done with the codes are voice recordings, website hunts, pictures, and especially photographs. Parents love to see their children’s work and pictures in the classroom—with a QR code, you can send these home in your weekly newsletters to easily allow parents to view your students in action. You can also upload the codes to your website or blog and parents can view work from there.

The possibilities are endless! One thing I have done in my own Kindergarten classroom is using them to practice sight words; students can scan the QR code, view the sight word, and rewrite the word themselves. We are currently using them in our Johnny Appleseed unit by displaying a red apple with the word “red” and the students have to color the apple to match the word. Living and Nonliving sorts is another example of how I use them in my classroom. Students simply scan the code and check off if the image is a living or non-living thing.

Be the Hit of Your Hallway

Making and downloading QR codes sounds quite daunting if you have never done this before, but don’t worry- it’s both easy AND effective! We recorded 103 kindergarten students saying a Pete the Cat phrase and they all had their own individual code copied on their papers. Parents scanned these codes at our Curriculum night to hear their little babes and they LOVED it! Score one for the kindergarten teachers! We began by logging onto www.recordmp3.org and followed the super simple directions to record our students saying, “I love my _______ shoes”. (You really just have to hit the record and stop buttons– that’s it!). Once that was done, a URL pops up for you to copy. You then paste the URL to the site www.qrstuff.com, click download, and voila! Your QR code has been generated. I saved a copy of the QR code into a word document for ease of organizing and printing. You’ll be the hit of your hallway!

handmadecatIn order to view or listen to the QR codes, you will need to use a QR reader. I use Scan – QR Code and Barcode Reader installed on all of the student iPads in the classroom. It’s a free app from iTunes that is easy for my Kinders to use. They just center the QR code in the box and watch the magic happen.

Once you begin to learn and have fun with the codes, it’s time to start exploring other ways to use them. Your students will love working with them and become super engaged in their learning by using these simple tools. You will be an ultra-cool teacher, and more importantly, the children will be learning (but shhhh, don’t tell them)!


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