It’s colorful. It’s magical. It’s MYSTERIOUS. It will mesmerize your students for the whole class period. Eighth graders will swoon, and ninth graders might start out as skeptics (“Why can’t we just do this on a worksheet?”), but fear not! Before long, they will fall prey to the magic as well. And the best part? They are actually LEARNING. So, what is this magical tool, you might ask?
It’s the magic of a cube. Yep. A cube.
Just insert a QR code on each side, and presto! Like magic, you can turn any activity into an engaging learning quest. Furthermore, QR codes are an easy way to differentiate content, process, and product without making it obvious to your students that you are doing so. If this sounds magical to you, read on for some different ways to incorporate QR cube codes into your teaching!
The QR Cube
Roll the cube and scan the code. It’s as easy as that. You can easily find or make your own cube template to use for this activity. I made mine in Microsoft Word by pasting the cube template and then inserting the QR codes as pictures. However, you could also print out a blank cube template and then print the QR codes separately to paste on to the cube.
You can easily create your own QR codes at a website like http://www.qrstuff.com/. Just copy and paste a link to a website or to a Google Doc, choose your color, and the website will generate a QR code for you, which you can save as a JPEG. I typically provide a separate assignment with questions or space to complete each task provided by the QR codes. This way, you can simply change the questions on the printed hand out if you want to differentiate, instead of having to make different cubes for each group.
I recently used QR cubes with my eighth grade students to practice identifying paragraph structures such as compare/contrast, problem/solution, and cause/effect. Each QR code took them to a Google Doc with a sample paragraph. They had to identify which type of paragraph structure was being used by identifying signal words and then creating a graphic organizer.
With my ninth grade students, I used QR cube codes to help students practice identifying ode and elegy. Each code was linked to a poem which students had to identify as ode or elegy; then, they answered differentiated questions on each poem and practiced writing their own poems.
Next, I am looking forward to using the QR cubes to introduce The Diary of Anne Frank. Each code will link to a different website with historical background information, such as The United Holocaust Museum and the Anne Frank Museum website. Students will explore each site and complete a web quest to build background knowledge.
The options are endless when it comes to QR code cubes, but here a few more ideas to get you started:
- Link codes to student writing samples and have students evaluate them.
- Provide pictures or narrative writing prompts to spark your students’ imagination!
- Practice vocabulary by linking each code to a vocabulary word. Provide students with a list of definitions or fill in the blank sentences and have them match each word they scan. This could easily work with foreign languages as well!
- Help students practice grammar by providing sentences for them to correct with each code.
- Practice developing claims and counterclaims by linking each code to an argumentative writing prompt.
- Provide links to different websites on the same topic and have students evaluate their credibility.
- Link each code to a practice math problem.
- Link codes to different steps in a sequence and have students put them in the correct order. This could work with a variety of subjects; for instance, order the plot events in a story, the steps to solve a math problem, or even the steps of the Scientific Method.
- Make test prep more fun by linking codes to practice tests or individual prompts. You could even link each code to a different test prep strategy and have students practice using that strategy with the next problem they complete.
Because they are so versatile, QR cube codes can be tailored to meet the needs of any student. In addition, they add an element of mystery and surprise to any lesson, which everybody loves! If you have other ideas for how to use QR codes in the classroom, send a shout out in the comments. In the meantime, roll the dice and have some fun! I promise you’ll see the magic!