Students in my district are still scheduled to start school in person on August 17–at least those students who don’t, or can’t, choose one of the e-learning options. As teachers, we need to plan to accommodate 25 to 30 kids in our classes because we have no idea how many kids will show up. It would be very easy for me to follow these statements with a litany of concerns and questions, but that’s not my point here. Remember, I’m making lemonade. 🙂
So, taking cues from industries that have had to welcome the public before us, I think one area we should focus on is minimizing shared resources within our classrooms. One restaurant I visited displayed QR Codes in plastic stands to give customers access to their menu. With a quick scan of the code through my phone’s camera app, I was looking at my own personal copy of the menu on my own personal device–no touching anything anyone else had touched and one less thing for the staff to clean after I left.
After years of trying to figure out how to keep phones out of our students’ hands during class, I think we need to look at these personal devices as a cleaner, safer option for classroom technology–both in our lesson planning and in our classroom management.
One tool that can be used for both lessons and procedures is the QR Code. If you’re not familiar with QR Codes, you may want to review this, but don’t be intimidated–they are actually very simple and easy to use. Today, I’m going to focus on using them for one practical classroom procedure, but in a later post in this series, I’ll share three academic uses of QR Codes.
At my school, we require students to sign in/out when they leave class–for both safety and accountability reasons. Most teachers just keep a clipboard by the door, with a pen or pencil attached by a string, and students sign themselves in and out of class, noting the time and their destination. Switching to a QR Code linked to a Google Form will allow this to become a contactless transaction.
How do you do it?
- Create a Google Form. Use dropdown menus and checkboxes to keep the form as simple as possible. You don’t need time or date questions because each entry will have its own time stamp (see the image above). Here’s an example.
- Generate a QR Code for your Form. If you’re familiar with add-ons, you can add-on a QR Code Generator to Google Forms, but an easy to way to get your feet wet with QR Codes is to just open a new tab and google QR Code Generator–most are free and super easy to use. Copy the link of your form (click on Send in the top right of the Form, then click on the link icon in the pop-up) and paste it into the QR Code Generator and hit enter or create!
- Print and Display Your QR Code. You can download the code or Snip & Sketch (hit shift-windows-s at the same time) it and then insert it or paste it into a sign. I like to use PowerPoint or Google Slides to make classroom signs–change the Page Setup/Design to Letter-Sized Paper and then you’ve got a blank canvas that is easy to print; put the QR Code anywhere on the slide you’d like it. (Here’s the sample I made in the image above.)
- Put it to use. Once school starts, explain and demonstrate the procedure. You’ll need to check the responses regularly (especially at first) to make sure students are both signing out and back in–just like we do on that clipboard at the end of the day. Almost all phones now have QR Code Readers built into the camera app, so as long your students have phones, you should find this very easy to implement. (You can test it out by holding your own phone up to the QR Code in the image above or on the sample slide–they even work directly from the computer screen!)
Here are some tips that may help you make the most of this process.
First – if you’d like to use my form (above) as a starting point, here’s a link to an editable copy. (When you click on that link, it will prompt you to make a copy of my form–once you click “Make a Copy” my form, as pictured above, will be copied to your Google Drive–whichever one is open, so if you’re at home, it may go to your personal account. You can always share it with your school account later.)
- If you use dropdown lists for names, you’ll want each class period on a separate form, with a separate QR code, and a separate response sheet.
- Make sure to select “Show link to submit another response” in the Presentation options in the Google Form Settings; this might save students some time (they won’t have to re-scan the code) when they come back in to class if they keep the window open after they fill out the form to leave.
- Have a back up system for forgotten phones/dead batteries/poor connections. One option: ask students to write their own pass info on a sheet of paper and turn it into a basket by the door (you can enter their info on the Form Response sheet at the end of the day to keep it all together).
- Save time by copying/pasting your roster from a Google Sheet into the form. (Save the rosters because you may want to use them for other Google Form activities, like book checkouts or exit slips.) As schedules shift in those first couple of weeks, don’t forget to edit your rosters on the forms and here, too!
- Create a shortcut link to the Responses on your computer desktop for a quick check. (Get the link by clicking Share in the Google Sheet; right click on your computer desktop and choose New → Shortcut. Then, paste the link into the pop-up that appears.)
- For advanced Google Form/Sheets Users: Put all your students in one form by using sections so that after identifying which class they are in, the form takes them to a section with only that class period’s names. Here’s a sample and an editable copy. There are even ways to separate the data into different tabs automatically if you’re so inclined. This article explains how to do it–don’t be afraid to try it out; I use this formula in many different forms but I can’t explain it for the life of me.
Have you used QR Codes for hall passes in the past? Did I leave anything out? Please share your experiences in the comments!
This is the second post in my Making Lemonade series. Follow my blog to be notified as I continue to share ways to make our classrooms better in spite of the lemons we’ve been given in 2020.