Around the World–QR Code Style!

I enjoy the around the world activity, even if it takes a while to setup, because it gets kids moving around and gives them feedback as to whether their answer was correct or not.  What I didn’t realize is how much this activity can be enhanced, even beyond just the “oh boy, we get to use iPads” motivator, and so I want to share some of those ways here.

First, what is around the world?  If you know what this is, you can skip down to where I describe what I did differently specially with the QR Codes.

Around the world is an activity where you have answers taped or placed all around your room.  Underneath the answers (or behind them) you have questions.  A student begins by choosing any of the questions around the room, and solves the problem underneath to get an answer.  That student then looks around for the answer (which is showing), and once they find it, try to solve the question which is beneath that answer.  So the questions and the answers are not placed on the same piece of paper, that way, students have to work their way around the room (usually randomly, so they don’t figure out an order) until they end up back where they began.

**New with the QR Codes**

So obviously I replaced the Questions with QR Codes because students needed to see the answers in order to know which code to scan.  I used this website, The QR Code Generator, which I found to be the best because I could paste text and URLs and get back QR codes, all of which worked wonderfully with the iPad app “Scan”.  The only drawback is I couldn’t put subscripts (this was for Chemistry class) in the questions, since QR codes only read plain text, although I suppose if I thought it through and spent much more time, I could turn those into images (I’ll explain how I did that in a second).  Regardless, students made the connection that numbers in chemical formulas were supposed to be subscripts in this situation, so that went fine.

One excellent thing I can do, that you can’t do as well without QR codes, is that I was able to put up many wrong answers in addition to the right right answers.  Students would run to a QR code and scan it, just to get a picture like the one below:

(Yeah, I’m a Wake Forest Fan, and I like jab at the few students who care about Duke and/or UNC at our school)

Unfortunately QR Codes cannot store full images, so instead what I did was used Dropbox and linked the images, using the Dropbox URL, so that when students scanned it, it took them right to the image in my Dropbox.  Fortunately you can make it so that students can see the image, but not manipulate your Dropbox (which is important!).  By the way, I searched for the internet for the above images (I hope I did not just violate some copyright laws), and I used Pixlr to edit the images very quickly.

Another incredible thing you can do slightly better with these QR Codes is that you can give feedback for wrong answers (and not just pictures).  If I had spent more time putting this together, I could have done a lot more specific feedback, but as it is, I would tell them things like “the number in parenthesis means the charge, not the number of atoms” which would help them see where they went wrong.  I think the students appreciated both the funny “NO YOU GOT IT WRONG” pictures and the positive feedback to help set them on the right track.

At the end of the activity, I had some trickier places to look.  The final “real” question had an answer that was taped low on a desk, so it was harder to find.  That QR Code sent students to look inside of a drawer of a lab table (it told them specifically where to go).  That QR Code sent them to find a specific picture of one of the wrong answers and look on the back of that image.  That QR Code told them to bring me their answer sheet along with the latest scan, and then I gave them a super-secret QR Code, which happened to be a “Hall of Fame” Google Form.  Students got to enter their names and leave a comment.  Here are some of my favorite comments:


I just like to thank my mom and everyone who developed my treasure hunting skills! Thank you Jesus!!!! 🙂 yee haw!

We love chemistry 🙂

Follow the light, and it will lead you to victory

I’d like to thank my mom! I am awesome!

Yo!!! That’s how it’s done!!! :))))

I believe that my students had a lot of fun and I’m very thankful to the online community who shared so many of these ideas with me.  Some of them include Technology Integration for Math Engagement and The Teacher Garden.  I’m sure there were other website which I read and learned about QR Codes, but I apologize for not remembering all of them.

One other thing that I forgot to mention was that I allowed students to start at any QR Code in one half of the classroom.  I put the first half of all the answers on that side and the second half on the other side.  To start the activity, they just went looking for a question in the first half of the classroom.  So no, every student did not get to finish every problem, but they all did at least half of them and there wasn’t a traffic jam due to all of the students looking for the same answer.  If you’re wondering about numbers, for my class of 24, I only created about a dozen problems for them to do, and there was no “traffic jamming”.  The activity lasted about 25 minutes for the dozen, and some students didn’t do all of the problems because they started later on in the chain of problems (if that makes sense), however, all the students that finished had to complete at least half of the problems!

I just realized that I should have the first “answer” (which didn’t actually have a question in my situation) be a wrong answer to one of the later questions, so that students would start over if they didn’t get it right!  Bwhaha, that would have been mean.  I think some of them would have picked up on that… but still, *evil grin*

Please let me know if you try this out–it really did not take very long to put this together, so I am definitely going to do it again.  Here’s a picture of one of my students enjoying the activity (I tried to take more with my iPad, but I forgot and the quality wasn’t superb.)



Filed under Teaching

3 responses to “Around the World–QR Code Style!

  1. Pingback: How the Mathtwitterblogosphere is Helping Me Grow | Hilbert's Hotel

  2. cathy scutari

    How did you get around the subscript issue?

    • I actually didn’t do anything differently, students just recognized that, for example H2O should have a subscript. You could try “H_2 O” but that might be more confusing to the students.

      Thanks for reading!

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