Sunday, September 16, 2012

QR Code Crime Scene

I've heard of QR codes and have seen them used in mobile advertising.  I've even heard of some really good ideas on how to use them in class including a QR code scavenger hunt.  Our school is 1:1 with iPads in grade 9-12, and I've been pondering for a while on how I could use QR codes in my own classroom.  Then, an idea struck me as we approach Ch. 6 & 7 of Huck Finn.  In those chapters, Huck  stages a crime scene to make it look like how he was murdered.  Brilliant, I know.  But most students don't see his genius behind this.  So I decided to do a QR Code Crime Scene prior to reading these two chapters.

The Setup


  1. I use www.qrstuff.com to generate the codes necessary.  I have each code embedded with text.  So when the code is scanned, a block of text (based from the book) pops up.
  2. Print codes and place in my classroom approximately where Huck left the evidence.  

Click on this QR code to download
all of the QR codes and Intro Video
used for this activity.

The Process


  1. Students watch the CSI St. Petersburg video that I created (see below in video).
  2. Students put on latex gloves, because this is a crime scene after all.
  3. Students use QR Scanner to scan the code.
  4. Students copy text and paste it into Notability, thus collecting the evidence.
  5. Students read each clue to draw out the crime scene...still in Notability.
  6. Students then formulate a theory based on the evidence.  Yep...in Notability.
  7. Students then email me everything as one PDF document.
Here is a video that shows the activity...



The Results


My goal was to have students take a more constructive approach to a piece of text while gathering some kind of formative assessment.  I wanted the iPad to merely be a tool to aide in constructing knowledge, not the device to deliver the knowledge.  The students seemed to also enjoy the activity overall, but they wished it was more elaborate and lasted more than one class period.  

CLICK HERE to view their surveyed opinions. 
CLICK HERE to view a student example from the activity (PDF).

I thoroughly enjoyed putting this activity together and watching the students construct various theories.  

Mr. Bormann
English Rocks!

P.S. What do you think of this activity?  How do you use QR codes in the classroom?

P.S.S. Kathleen Ralf in Stuttgard, Germany came up with her very own creative way to use QR codes to practice skimming skills and review content.  Check out her blog EduClick.

8 Responses so far.

  1. Tina says:

    Love this activity! Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. jbormann says:

    Thanks, Tina. It was a lot of fun. Have you used QR codes before? Do you have iPads or iPods available for your class?

  3. Mrs. Ralf says:

    I love what you have done here. I like that you used an investigation and constructed something in the end. And the interface with Notability is really great. Is your school a 1 to 1 iPad school?

    I recently was searching for ways to use iPads/cell phones in my class. I found an example of a teacher reviewing their year with student to study for the AP History exam. I needed something to spark discussion after a recent reading for my Diploma History class. I gave each student a QR code of a topic from the reading on WWI. They had to ask other students to scan their code. Then they had to ask 2 yes or no questions of their partner in order to try to figure out who or what they were. The partner had to skim and scan the web site attached to the QR code in order to answer the Yes/No question. After 2 questions were asked of each other, they found a new person to pair with. Once I felt that 70 per cent of the class had figured out their QR code I then had them pair again to introduce their topic. They had to then share information with the class that went beyond what they had previously read.

    The kids then debriefed the activity. They realized that skimming and scanning is a skill they need to be better at. And they realized that by skimming and scanning all those websites in the lesson, they were able to gain more knowledge. It led to great discussion, both of the content to be learned and the usefulness of their hand held device.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Kathleen Ralf
    International School of Stuttgart

  4. jbormann says:

    Kathleen,
    I am in a school that is 1:1 in grades 9-12 although we are looking to add the middle school in the future. Your activity is brilliant to practice the essential skimming skills while reviewing content. I also like the constructivist approach. Did your students enjoy the activity? Did they like using the device the most or constructing the knowledge?

    Keep up the amazing teaching!

    Best Wishes,
    Jarod Bormann

    P.S. Do you have a blog I could follow? How about Twitter?

  5. Mrs. Ralf says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  6. Mrs. Ralf says:

    The kids loved the activity. Recently I presented it to staff as well. I think using QR codes are great, but like with anything else, if you over use it, it becomes a bit boring.

    We do have a tech blog, our IT coordinator for the Upper School has started one to share ideas on technology and best practices. I have written a few posts there. http://isseduclick.blogspot.de/

  7. So happy I found this post. What a great learning activity! I am living in a district where a group of parents have been pushing to have wifi removed from our schools, and they have a sympathetic ear with our school board. Cases like yours strongly illustrate the need for wifi access in schools. Thank you for posting this on the open web. It helps immensely with our fight to keep wifi in our schools.

  8. Wow, Clint! I've heard of banning devices, but getting rid of wifi sounds extreme. Although without wifi it renders most devices useless, with the exception of smart phones. Was there a huge problem that occurred in your school that sparked this, or is it a part of a school teaching philosophy that is trying to be initiated. How will research be conducted? If they expect nothing but Encyclopedias, then they are not teaching kids 21st century skills. I'm assuming there are at least some computer labs that are wired to the Internet. If the school has a web filter that blocks most of the "bad" sites, then what is the need to get rid of wifi? Sorry for all of the questions, but you have me intrigued.

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