In my class for Curriculum Development, I was introduced to a review tool that I hadn’t heard of before. Plickers. It looked neat enough, so I gave it a try for some test review I was doing this week.
Plickers allows you to assess student learning through multiple choice or true/false questions. The program creates and allows you to print unique Plicker cards (QR Codes) which are then assigned to students in each class, when you upload your rosters. Each side is marked with an A, B, C, or D and is surrounded by the number of the card so they don’t get mixed up.
Project the questions on the board and have students hold up their card signifying their answer. The teacher uses their smart phone to scan their answers, which appear on a projected screen for the class to see. After each question was answered, I would ask kids to justify their answers before revealing the correct answer. I would then ask someone to explain why that answer was correct.
It’s easy to set up…
Create classes – copy and paste your roster into each class.
Create questions – multiple choice or true/false. I took some liberties with the T/F section and asked them if a sentence was correctly written in terms of subject verb agreement, choose true, etc.
Project the questions on the board, see when students answer, and the show a graph of responses before revealing the correct answer. I left it on the screen below until all students had answered, because, well, middle school students tend to choose the answer everyone else is choosing and isn’t that the whole reason they don’t just hold up a letter A on paper? The QR codes are unique so you can’t just look around and see what your peers are holding up. You have to make your own choice before I showed the graph of responses.
The feedback from my kids today included:
“This is the most fun I’ve had in english all year!”
“Can we do this the entire class?”
“Whoa! This is awesome!”
“I’ve never seen anyone do something like this before!”
and “Technology, 2015” (This one might be my favorite!)
Now, some pros and cons – because it isn’t all roses.
1. Instant feedback for you and the students. Each student’s answer is shown on your phone (for your to see as they scan) and on the board (with no names attached so as not to embarrass anyone) and you can address the misconceptions real time instead of waiting to grade something later.
2. The reports feature allows you to pull information by class, by question and by student. This formative assessment allows you to use data to drive instruction in your classroom.
3. The kids love it. Gamification, love it or hate it, gets the kids to buy in.
1. This is straight test prep and there is little application to critical thinking, application or creation. Of course now, that isn’t the tool it is intended to be. This should be a quick drop in the hat formative assessment. Not meant for any other type of instruction. In other words, use it to assess their lowest levels of learning – knowledge – but not much else.
2. Entering the questions and “planning” them for each class is a bit time consuming.
3. There is no community library or database of questions to look at it pull from. Every question you enter has to be your own. The opportunity to contribute to a question bank would vastly improve my likelihood of using this again.
I certainly got enough bang for my buck, though. The kids like it. I got a quick assessment of what they need more work on and they know better what they need to review for the summative assessment.
Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments.