Guest Blogger - On the go Teacher Mama!

Hello! It's Suzy from On The Go Teacher Mama and I am super excited about guest blogging for Erin today. I'm in my eleventh year of teaching, mostly in 2nd and 5th grades, and I especially love teaching math. I also really love using technology with my students.

I use various types of math stations during my math block so that I can keep students meaningfully engaged while I work with my intervention groups. I often have one station at the interactive white board, at least 1-2 skills or fluency games, task cards and fun practice pages. The kids love the activities and games but one problem I have is getting kids to care about the quality of their work. The other problem I have is how much work I have to check and return to students for corrections each week.

Here's where my love for technology and my need for student accuracy meet: QR codes! I'm sure you've heard of QR codes and most likely have seen them all over stores and ads. I even saw a QR code on a scarf tag today. A QR code is basically a more dynamic type of bar code. It can hold text or links to websites and videos and stores use them to give consumers coupons, information about their products or links to their websites.

They also have many uses in the classroom. This Ted Talk inspired me to do more with QR codes in my classroom.

One of the main ways I use QR codes in my classroom is on task cards. My favorite way to use QR codes on task cards is to have students scan them to check their answers after they have written them on a recording sheet.

This helps students by giving them immediate feedback on their work. They can instantly know if they are on the right track or not. No more waiting around until I can get their work checked for feedback! The other way it helps students is by providing motivation to complete their work with accuracy. In my classroom, you can hear students whispering "YES!" when they get something correct. I really love to hear that! I also really love having less papers to grade!

You may be saying to yourself that this is all fine and dandy with a classroom full of iPads, but how can I do it in my classroom? I am fortunate to have recently won a grant to get 14 iPad minis for my class, but for the past three years I have had ONE device in my room. So, if you can get your hands on ONE device: an old iPod Touch or iPhone, an iPad, or other type of tablet, you can use it to scan QR codes. All your device needs is a camera and an app for scanning text-based QR codes because they don't use the internet. If your school has wireless, you can do even more! This is my favorite app to use because it is simple and catches the QR codes quickly. It's called i-nigma and it's FREE!

Setting up a station is easy. All you need to do is print, cut, and laminate (if desired) your task cards. I like to mount all my task cards on black construction paper to make them more durable so I can use them for years. Then I copy the recording sheets for the students and put everything in a gallon size zip top bag. This is a great way to store your task cards because they are fairly flat and can be organized in a filing cabinet. I simply place a labeled divider between each section and sort them by concepts. You can also label the bags by skill or CCSS for your reference.

Next, you need to teach the students how to scan a QR code. Most students can take pictures with their parents' (or their own!) phones so they're half way there. Just open the app, align the camera with the QR code and BING! you've scanned a QR code. If you scan a text-based QR code, the text will show up on the screen. If you scan a web-based QR code, you'll have to tap on "Go Online" to take you to the website. It couldn't be easier!

You can set up a scanning station at a designated spot in the room or give out devices as students finish their work. One teacher I work with asked me if I was worried about kids cheating by scanning the QR codes before they did the work. I told her that this is the one time I allow kids to rat each other out and I have never had a problem. They hold each other accountable, believe me!

If you'd like to know other ways to use QR codes, check out this free information guide I wrote:

Here's an example of some upper elementary task cards with QR codes that you can use to practice Multiplication with Mixed Decimals.

For many more math task cards with QR codes, check out my TpT store.

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