Using QR Codes for Spooky Narrative Development - MindWing Concepts, Inc.

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Using QR Codes for Spooky Narrative Development

by Sean Sweeney October 24, 2011 3 min read

Over on my blog SpeechTechie this month, I am discussing in a series of posts the incredibly useful technique of using QR codes in language interventions. QR codes, which look like this....

...were born in the world of marketing (you may have seen them on ads about town) but are making their way into educational settings as an attention-grabbing tool. QR codes can be created very easily and printed, then scanned with free apps available for your smartphone or iPad. When scanned, the app will show text that you entered or a link to a website, depending on how you created the code. The result is an engaging process of discovery in which the student, instead of being presented a simple block of text, or shown a picture or website, participates in a little “peekaboo” moment in which the stimulus item is presented after scanning the code. Very cool.

QR codes lend themselves to be used in scavenger hunts in which a child locates the codes you have hidden around the classroom, therapy center, or wherever. They also lend themselves to story mapping, as a story can be broken down into text elements and printed as QR codes, one for character/setting, one for kickoff, and so on.

Given the season, I thought it would be fun to provide you with a Halloween lesson you can use right away that incorporates QR codes. You will first want to install a free app (click here for links to apps and a demo) on your smartphone or iPad that you can use to scan codes and display results. Presented below is a favorite ghost story of mine, “The Bus Stop,” modified from Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones (a great resource for more short scares). Click on each of the links below and you will navigate to a webpage with a QR code image. Print it from your web browser (File>Print) and be sure to make a notation on the back of the print-out so you don’t lose track of what is what. Save them in an envelope for use next year too! When scanned, each of the codes will display the text linked below. This would be a great lesson to accompany the Story Grammar Marker complete episode map, and perhaps inspire students to create their own ghost stories using SGM to help them organize their narratives. Here goes!

Stars One night, a man named Ed was driving home from work in a rainstorm.
When he passed by the bus stop, there was a woman waiting for the bus. She was soaking wet and had no umbrella so Ed offered her a ride home. She told him her name was Joanna and they talked while he drove her home.
Ed thought Joanna was very nice and he enjoyed talking with her.
He wanted to get to know her better so he asked if she’d like to have dinner sometime, and she said yes.
Ed and Joanna went out to dinner and had a great time.
They went out many times over the next several weeks, having fun at the movies and walks in the park. Each time he picked her up at the bus stop and dropped her at her house at the end of the night.
One night, Joanna was not at the bus stop when Ed went to pick her up.
Ed went to her house and rang the bell. A woman answered, and Ed told her he was looking for Joanna.
The woman said she was Joanna’s mother, and invited him inside. On the hallway table, Ed saw a picture of Joanna, and asked when it was taken.
Joanna’s mom said, “Right before she died, 18 years ago. She was hit by a car and killed while waiting for a bus at the bus stop.”
Oooooh, so all that time he had been dating a ghost! Probably, that’s not so bad, given what I hear about dating these days. This story is always great for seeing that light of realization on kids’ faces at the conclusion (or helping them to make the connection)!

If you’d like to think about how to break down other stories and make your own QR codes, check out my post and video demo on SpeechTechie. It is MUCH easier than you think!

Sean Sweeney
Sean Sweeney

Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Needham, MA, and as a clinical supervisor at Boston University. He consults to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie (, looks at technology “through a language lens.” Contact him at

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