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The Mother of All Scavenger Hunts

May 6, 2013

I was inspired by Cindy’s QR Code Scavenger Hunt ever since I first read it and realized I could use the iPads that I didn’t know what to do with. I really liked her idea of having the QR codes output plain text, but I quickly realized that this wouldn’t work for a geometry activity.

I finally decided to do this as a final pre-STAAR review activity that would get us out of the classroom, and would let us review without using a packet of worksheets. I apparently also lost my sanity and decided that I wanted to have each answer choice be a separate location with its own URL (and I wanted to have 15 questions). Since everything was going to be done through the QR codes and a spare WordPress site, that’s 15×5=75 separate QR codes and blog entries. **sigh**

The next step in my madness was the inspiration of using locker numbers to handle the 75! locations I needed. This meant I had to wander around the whole school figuring out which locker numbers were where. Once I thought of the lockers, I thought it would be cool if, on the locker with the correct answer, the students could open the locker and find a token to bring back. Time to contact the assistant principal in charge of the lockers to find out combinations to 15 lockers. She ended up just letting me borrow the notebook — yay!

Token 1

Now the work began. I actually used the random number generator on my TI-84 to randomize locker locations (I assigned each main block of lockers a number), and then created a spreadsheet for the question and answer choices locker numbers. I used my trial version of Kuta to create the 15 questions. I then scanned the document (since it won’t let you save as a PDF on the trial version) and then created blog entries for each question, incorrect answer, and correct answer (including the combination to the locker). This gave me URLs that I could paste into the QR generator, which I then copied and pasted into a Word document (one page per question).

QR Codes

The afternoon before the hunt, I went around the building with my QR codes and my tokens. Copying Cindy, I also made Hall Passes for each of my students, as well as worksheets for them to use to show their work (no credit for the token without the work).

Hall Pass

How did it go?

Good things:

  • The kids got into the idea of the scavenger hunt, and once they figured out the locker thing, they all worked pretty well (I put them in teams of two).
  • My codes created a lot of buzz around the school. I had at least three non-math teachers come up to me and ask me about my scavenger hunt — they had scanned the QR codes and saw my name.
  • I was especially pleased that my principal found a group that was working on a problem, and they told him that they really liked the activity.
  • Considering I had 75 codes around a building with 2800 students wandering around, I only found 4 codes that were torn down. Even more important, none of the lockers with tokens were messed with.
  • It was also useful for my students (who are all sophomores) to see parts of the building they may not have seen before, since I used every bank of lockers in the school.
  • Students could use their phones as well as the iPads, which made a nice division of labor.

Not-so-good things:

  • Out of the 15 problems I created, the most any team completed was 5. I think next year, assuming I do this again, I will group the questions and answers closer together so students have time to answer more questions. In principle, it makes sense to spread things out so students are less likely to just scan codes, but as big as our school is, it just may not be practical.
  • Lamar

  • I had to double-check all of the codes on the second day because of other students’ messing with my codes. Yes, it was only 4, but I still had to check all 75.
  • I had forgotten until the morning of the hunt, but one of my girls had torn ligaments in her knee. Oops! She managed to make about half of the problems, but then she had to sit down.
  • Teenager drama — “I don’t want to work with her any more; she’s a b****!”
  • I was exhausted! One evening running around the school preparing things, two days running around the school monitoring students, and then going around taking down all of the codes and retrieving all of the tokens.

Overall, however, the good things definitely outweighed the bad. I think that now that I have the process in place, I will probably do this again next year.

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