Tuesday, February 7, 2017

QR Code Running Dictatio

Here is a great variation of a dictation which combines a running dictation on a much larger scale with QR codes. Bob Patrick and I did this activity last week with our Latin 1 with students with great success! I can absolutely take no credit for this activity, as I learned this from my colleagues Miriam Patrick and Rachel Ash, who discuss this on their blog - they in turn learned this from Meredith White, a wonderful CI Spanish teacher in our district last week.

The idea is essentially a scavenger hunt throughout the school. Students will scan QR codes, which will give them a sentence to write down as a dictation and will then give them a clue to the location of the next QR code. 

I will tell you up front that this activity takes much preparation on the front end, but once it is set into motion, you as the teacher simply facilitate or more specifically, observe!

  1. Write a series of sentences in the target language like in any dictation. The sentences should form a story; 10-12 sentences are a good amount. NOTE - for this activity, I created sentences using already-known vocabulary which had been targeted, so these sentences served as another way to get in repetitions of these targeted words. One can still use this activity to introduce new vocabulary but there will be an additional step.
  2. Make a list of locations where you can place QR codes, e.g., drinking fountains, vending machines, pictures, backs of books, under chairs/desks, etc. It is up to you to determine the scope/magnitude of the area of this activity. Bob and I chose to keep it to just our building but with many varied locations.
  3. Write up these locations in the target language.
  4. Create an order in which students will go to each location.
  5. Assign each dictation sentence to a location AND with the next clue. It is up to you whether you wish to have students write down each sentence in order or for the sentence order to be scattered is up to you. Because my dictation sentences were using known vocabulary, I scattered the order for novelty.
  6. Write up a list of the order of clues (with each sentence, location of sentence, and location of next clue), because it will come in handy during the activity. My example.
  7. Using a QR Code Generator, type up the sentence and location of next clue. It is important that you use a QR Code Generator which will save text. Save that QR Code - be sure to remember where that QR Code falls in the order!
Example of QR Code - scan with QR Code reader to see embedded information

    8. Repeat step #7 for all remaining sentences and clues.
    9. Create a table to cut/paste the QR codes. Be sure to put the QR codes in order. My     
        example of QR table.
  10. Print QR Code table.
  11. Create dictatio handouts. Students will record their dictation on this handout. On the 
        dictatio handout, paste a QR Code. At the very beginning, students will scan the QR 
        code to receive the first sentence and to find the location of their next sentence. You 
        will need to create handouts with DIFFERENT QR codes so that students are not all 
        starting at the same location. My example.
 12. Cut the QR codes from the QR code table and tape them in the various locations.
 13. Print the dictatio handouts - do not collate! 
 14. Send an email to your faculty, notifying them of the activity, that students will be 
       running around the school, and to notify you of any student problems.

  1. Explain that students will be doing a dictatio but with QR codes.
  2. Tell students to divide into groups of 2-3. No groups of four! You may also create the groups if needed. It is important that at least one team member has a smartphone with a QR code reader. If students have the Snapchat app, then that has a QR Code reader.
  3. Hand each group their “team dictatio sheets” - every team member will get a dictatio sheet. For me, There were nine different dictatio sheets, each with a Roman numeral at top. For example, Team 1 had two members, so each member received a “Dictatio I” sheet, Team 2 has three members so each member will get a “Dictatio II” sheet.
  4. Students will scan QR code on their student document. It will send them to one of 8 places.
    • Each QR code will have a dictatio sentence AND a clue to the next sentence on it.
    • Students are to write the dicatio sentence IN LATIN which matches the number on their sheet, i.e. the sentences are not in order when they scan the QR code
    • The QR code will also tell students where to go for the next sentence.
5. If you are using this dictation activity to introduce new vocabulary, you will want to add
in a step where students come to you for the meaning of new words BEFORE they
head to their next clue.
6. When they get ALL dictatio sentences, students will return to the class to turn it in.
7. Explain that they are to be respectful of other classes and to be quiet in the hallways.
8. Begin the activity, and watch the fun!

  1. The search for QR codes made the activity very engaging for students. The activity became more about finding the QR codes than about the actual writing down of the dictation sentence. In other words, the dictation sentences became incidental, although they were receiving subconscious repetitions of comprehensible language in writing them down. The search kept the activity novel. As one of my students who tends to be "less engaged" in my class said: "This was SO much fun! Let's do this EVERY week." 
  2. Bob Patrick said it best: "This activity was a true communicative activity, because students were actually using the language to complete a task."
  3. To make the activity last longer, you can add a translation component where students have to translate the sentences prior to turning them in. Per Miriam Patrick, you can also have students write down the location clues on their dictation handouts.
  4. Bob and I limited our QR code locations to a certain area in our building (as it was the first time doing something like this). Students requested that they wanted to go to various parts of the school for the next time. 
  5. Students said that they really liked being able to copy down the sentences from their phones instead of having to write them down by listening to me repeat the sentence aloud three times - lol!
  6. The list of sentences, locations, and next clues will come in handy if students get out of order. You can redirect them if they get "lost."
As I said earlier, this activity takes a lot of preparation the first time you do it, because you will be learning how to put it together. Now that I have created one, the next time I do this, it will be much quicker to prepare.


  1. You are TODAlly awesome, Keith! :) What if you up the ante and have them figure out where the next clue is. For example, "For the next clue, get/buy/pay for a candy bar!" I love this idea. Thanks for sharing.

    1. This is a great idea - I'll add it to my list. Thanks so much!

  2. Thank you! I just adapted this for my 7th grade Spanish I class to practice directions next week!

    1. So glad that you found this helpful - would love to hear how you adapted it for directions.