by Randy Rebman

These sunny days have had me thinking of how I can get my class outside and out of their desks. In my advanced EAP listening/speaking course (051), we are preparing for the first listening quiz. Having taught this course before, I’m aware just how much of a shock the first quiz can be, so I wanted to prepare students for the types of questions they’d encounter and how they’d be expected to respond. In this blog post I’ll explain how I integrated two tech tools to create a more engaging lesson in order to get students prepare for their first quiz.

Prerequisite: Students had listened to a lecture from their textbook, took notes using the Cornell Notes technique and submitted their summary section of Cornell Notes in a Canvas assignment. They were asked to bring the notes to class for this lesson.

Materials/Setup Purpose:

  • A roll of tape: for taping up QR codes outside on structures near classroom building
  • QR Code Generator: for creating QR codes based on similar quiz like questions
  • MS Word Document: for pasting in separate QR Codes once they are created
  • Socrative Account: for asking groups to upload their collective answers
  • Transcript of Lecture that students listened to previously

Teacher Preparation Process

  1. Identify question types on upcoming listening quiz. I scanned through the listening quiz and identified the types of questions by what learning objective seemed to be tested in the test item. I identified the following types of objectives: identify main ideas, identify details, identify structure/topics/subtopics, and apply ideas to a situation/example that you are familiar with.
  2. Create sample questions from the lecture. I printed out the lecture transcript to save time and created my questions from different sections of the listening passage to have broad coverage of the listening passage. This would also favor students who took good notes. I numbered the questions and listed them on a google doc.
  3. Go to and create a new quiz. Create your 6-7 open-ended questions from the sample questions (you’ll use these later). Save your quiz and title it something like QR Code Scavenger Hunt Group Answers.
  4. Create QR Codes. I copied and pasted each question (including the number!) into the QR code generator. Once the numbered question is pasted into the QR Code generator, then you’ll have the option of saving it. I chose to save each one separately as a PNG file. Be sure that you name them base on the question number. For example, Question A/Question 1.  Repeat this process until you have went through all your questions. I recommend 5-8 questions. This could differ depending upon how many objectives you are preparing students to do. I selected 7 because that seemed to give them enough practice to go through 2 main idea & 2 detail questions in addition to the critical thinking and identify structure/topics questions.
  5. Print out QR Codes. Once you’ve labeled your QR code png files, then you need to open up word documents for the number of QR codes you’ve created. Simply paste in each image into the word document. If you want to avoid confusion, label the MS Word Document with the question number as well (I’d do this next time were I to do this activity again).
  6. Create the Scavenger Hunt. In the past I’ve started the scavenger hunt in my classroom by having one QR code hanging up in the classroom, but then it seems students take too long to get outside. So this time I had a few of my students help me tape the codes to the statues that are outside of our International Living Learning Center (ILLC) building while I began getting my class setup for the activity. The key here is to have it close to the classroom, and not too far so that students will be likely to get lost or wander off.
  7. Create the group question sheet. This is just a simple worksheet where you ask the students to write their answers in the blanks (The questions are typically stored in their QR Readers on their phones, so there is no need to write them down). You can find the Question Worksheet that I created here. I had 17 students in my class, so I created 6 groups (6 questions sheets).

Class Preparation/Introduce Activity

  • Write instructions on the white board or on projector/doc cam:
    1. Get into your groups (I grouped them by Marvel Superheroes for this activity)
    2. Collect your Cornell Notes and Summary from previous class
    3. Each group gets a Question Sheet
    4. Each group should have one or more person download a QR Code Reader on their phone
    5. You will use the QR code Reader to find the questions
    6. Use your notes to answer the questions in groups
  • Emphasize that each student needs to have their notes. This is important. Their answers will only be as strong as their collective note-taking abilities are.
  • Tell them to come to class as soon as they are finished and be prepared to share their answers.

Instructor Facilitation TIPS & Process

During QR Code Scavenger Hunt

  • Be sure to help direct students to where they can first start finding the QR codes. Two of the students who helped me set up my QR codes were now in groups, so I instructed them to help any students who might need help finding their QR code questions.
  • I also spend a little time walking around outside making sure that the groups have their notes with them. As an alternative, you can have groups return to the classroom once they’ve collected the questions and finish answering their questions and reviewing their notes in their groups.

Post-Scavenger Hunt/Transition To Socrative Activity

  • Return to the classroom and project the computer and bring up your Socrative account. Select “Launch Quiz.” Make sure that the quiz is individual paced.
  • As students begin to trickle back into the classroom, write the directions on the board.
  • Directions for entering the Socrative Quiz:
    • One student will complete answers for your group
    • Go to Socrative
      • Student Logon
      • Enter your group’s name (My groups were all Marvel characters, so Spiderman, Thor, Hulk, & Daredevil each had their own group)
      • Select Classroom: (This is where you the instructor write your classroom on the board). Mine, for example, is RANDYSCLASS
    • Complete each question with the answers that your group came up with.


  • If some groups finish early, hand out the transcript of the lecture and have them identify the major sections of the lecture. Then identify main ideas for each section.


  • After students have entered their questions, end the quiz and go the results table of Socrative.
  • Go through each question and explain which of the group’s responses would be acceptable on the quiz and which would not and explain why.
  • Download the quiz and post on the Canvas site so the class can review the answers on their own.

Wrap Up/Debrief Questions

Here are a few ideas for how to wrap up/conclude the class. I wouldn’t suggest all of them. You may decide to focus on different questions depending upon your goal.

  • Ask students for a Rose/Thorn for the QR Code Scavenger Hunt
    • Rose: One thing that was positive/good about it/what you took away from this activity
    • Thorn: One negative aspect/difficulty
  • What did students notice about the level of notes that helped them answer the questions?
  • Do you think the level of note-taking you did was good enough for answering the questions? If not, what do you need to change in preparation for the quiz?
  • If your group didn’t answer all the questions, what kept your group from being successful?

Related Lesson Links:

by Amy Nickerson

10 Time-Saving Strategies for Enriching Writing Instruction

1) Collaborate Across Courses

a. Use same text/vocab/content

2) Assign Reasonable Writing Tasks

a. Short paper vs long paper and expectations

b. Manageable number of sources

c. Sequence assignments

d. Activate background knowledge

3) Provide Clear Assignment Guidelines

a. Overview, length, due date, purpose

b. Structure–format, etc.

c. Rubric explanations

4) Modeling

a. Sample papers written by students/teachers

b. Cognitive model–”How would I do it?”

c. Social model–peer review

5) Maximize Available Resources

a. Tutor, writing center, librarian

b. Collaborate with other teachers

c. Assess L2 needs and seek out online resources

6) Assign in-class Writing

a. Observe writing process, strategies, typing, time management

b. Assess issues and give immediate feedback

c. Compare in-class and out-of-class work

7) Use known Text for Source-based Writing

a. Theme-based approach

b. Research Papers

c. Ss submit outside texts and highlight parts used

8) Optimize Feedback by Priority Concerns

a. What is your focus?

b. Limit number of issues

c. Align feedback with class lessons

d. Ss journal about what they want to focus on

9) Self-timing Strategies

a. Set a goal for feedback

b. Set a max time limit and reward yourself

10) Ss Self Submission

a. Build a rubric for the Ss to fill out to self-check: It’s like a dialog and gives Ss autonomy for their work


by Randy Rebman and Elisabeth McBrien

In this blog post we provide some ideas on how to make use of the first week of classes. We share icebreakers as ways to build classroom community, techniques for reviewing the syllabus and methods of conducting a needs analysis. Hopefully this post will give you some new ideas for the first week of classes or help you dust off some old ones.


  • One of my favorite icebreakers to get groups mingling is a snowball fight. This activity gets students moving around quickly and talking to everyone right away. I find that the playful nature of a snowball fight helps overcome some of the shyness and awkwardness of those first class meetings. Make sure to have students shield their eyes when the snowballs start flying! I often use this after going through a name game activity.
  • Building on the name game, a fun twist on that can be to add an alphabet game to it. This memory/alphabet game works for level 2 and above. Students start with “Yesterday at the store I bought…” and then they name something according to the letter of the alphabet. For example, “Yesterday at the store, I bought Apples.” The next student says, “Yesterday at the store, Elisabeth bought Apples, and I bought Bananas.” Students start out naming regular grocery items, but it’s fun when things get a bit silly, and someone says, “Yesterday at the store, Elisabeth bought Apples, Randy bought Bananas, and I bought…. a Camel (or Car or Castle or something like that).”
  • Two other icebreakers that gets students laughing are Two Truths and One Lie  and Find Someone Who.

Reviewing the Syllabus

  • Quizzes and scavenger hunts can make going through the syllabus fun and memorable.
  • No time to write a syllabus quiz? Have students develop their own questions in class about the course and syllabus before you hand out the syllabus:

1) Students develop 2 or 3 questions about the course/syllabus in pairs or small groups. You can also say, “Use a gerund in one of your questions,” or “Write one easy question and one difficult question,” or add other limitations that force your students to get creative as they write questions.

2) Students add their questions to the board or Feel free to add your own bonus question to the board about a point in the syllabus that you want to emphasize or have students read and understand in particular. If it’s a listening/speaking class, you could skip the writing on the board: Have your students say their questions out loud to the class to practice listening and speaking.

3) Instructor hands out the syllabus and has the class find the answers to their questions from the syllabus. Review anything important that wasn’t covered from students’ questions.

Needs Analysis/Classroom Contract

  • Part of building a classroom community involves building students’ trust in you as their teacher. This trust can be built by showing that you care about their own individual needs as learners and adults. Below are two ways that can easily be implemented during the first week to address students’ goals.
    • Needs Analysis Survey–Use Google Forms or Survey Monkey to create a brief survey to solicit information from your students. Some of the information you can consider requesting includes L1 background & L1 literacy skills, educational background, goals, support, barriers and other factors. Be sure to taylor your questions towards the skills that are to be addressed in the course. Post your survey link to Canvas and ask that students complete it during the first week of classes. Follow up on the survey results by explaining to students what needs and goals will be addressed or not addressed in the course so that they feel that the course is designed towards meeting their needs.
    • Classroom Contract–Creating a classroom contract during the first week of class helps students understand that they are responsible for helping create the classroom community that will help them achieve their learning goals. This process can be empowering for students, especially for many of our international students who have come from predominately teacher-fronted classrooms.

Related Links