Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tutorial: Use QR Codes for Differentiation

Differentiating instruction is a big deal in my school, and for good reason. I have 26 students with a wide range of instructional needs -- from early intervention program to gifted -- and one-sized instruction never works. One of the biggest obstacles that I've found for differentiating, however, has been the management of the tasks. QR codes have helped me solve that problem.

Step One: decide what you want the students to do. 

Let's say we're studying biographies in reader's workshop, and I want students to read about Harriet Tubman. I'll try to find at least 3 different resources.

One at grade-level reading ability,

one above grade-level reading ability,

and one below grade-level reading ability.

Step two: create a QR code for each website that you're assigning.

I like to use Google's QR Code Generator.

Next, you'll get an image that looks like this:
From there, I'll right-click on the QR code and choose either "Save Image As..." or "Copy Image" depending on whether I'm ready to make labels with the QR codes. 

Once you've made a QR code for each website you're using, you're ready for the third and final step.

Step three: assign the QR codes to students.

For this, I typically use 2x4 inch labels. On the left side of the label, I'll paste the QR code. Then I'll type the student's name and any important directions on the right. Most of this is just copying and pasting for as many labels as I need, so the whole process goes rather quickly. It's important, however, to be mindful of what assignment you're copying and pasting because it's not easy to tell the QR codes apart!

I'll put the labels on index cards and distribute them to students. There are some examples above.

Step four: read the picture using a scanning app.

There are lots of QR code reading apps available for free. One that I've used with my students is called QR Code Reader and Scanner. It scans the QR code and opens the attached link. It is far more efficient and user-friendly than having students type in web addresses.

I teach in a class where I am fortunate enough to have 1:1 iPads this year, but this tip could be done using any iPad, iPod, or smartphone, and you wouldn't necessarily need to have one for each student. This could be incorporated into centers or other work.

Other tips:

1. Consider linking to your own webpage so you can reuse the same QR code. I have a Google Site that I use for my reading groups each week. The students are assigned to a particular subpage on that site, so I can make a QR code for that particular page and assign it to the relevant students. Then I just swap out the activities on that page each week. That's much faster and easier than recreating QR codes.

2. Don't just link to web content generated by others -- make your own assignments and use QR codes to assign them to students. You can have multiple versions of an assignment in Google Docs, for example, and you could create different QR codes for each version. Or you could have tiered assignments where students will be expected to complete different quantities of work in different timeframes. You could post the directions on your website and link the students to the pages that apply to them.

3. Use QR codes for interactive bulletin boards. I had my students write math riddles, for example, and the solutions were posted as QR codes next to the riddle. (More information about this is coming in a future blog post.)

4. Make an answer key and create a QR code to access it. Let students check their own work when they finish a task by using the QR code. 

Have you used QR codes in your classroom? What are some other ways you could use QR codes in the classroom?


  1. The majority of the world still doesn't know what a QR code is. I'm really impressed with your resourcefulness!

  2. Thanks! I love using them in the classroom. They're so much more efficient than having kids type (and inevitably misspell) web addresses, and there are lots of cool things you can do with them.

  3. This is such a great idea! I thought only realtors were using these... Now if only we all had 1:1 ipads. *sigh* Someday... :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...