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Pros: Paper response cards open up access to mostly device- and screen-free classrooms.
Cons: One-at-a-time question entry requires significant time up front; questions limited to multiple choice and true or false.
Bottom Line: This can be a useful tool for getting quick feedback or snapshots of understanding in technology-limited classrooms.
Great lessons begin and proceed with well-thought-out questions, and Plickers can help teachers revamp warm-ups, quick checks, and exit tickets while collecting valuable data to help them monitor student progress. Start or end class in a meaningful, engaging manner by asking insightful, thoughtful questions, or challenge students to create questions to be used for quick reviews of information or texts. Begin a unit with a pretest of sorts, gaining valuable information on how to meet students where they are, and determine from the start who may require additional challenges or support. Promote metacognition by asking students procedural or reflective questions. Test-drive quiz and exam questions beforehand, providing time to self-reflect on your instruction before giving students a summative assessment. Need a little pick-me-up in class discussion or behavior? Create big-picture questions to jump-start class discussions and engage students, and break up multiple-choice monotony by letting kids debate the answers or stand up as they respond. Any way you use it, students are sure to prefer the interactive answer cards to paper-and-pencil assessments.
Plickers is a rapid-response classroom-polling app that lets teachers use one mobile device to scan paper cards for student responses. There are iOS and Android apps as well as a web interface. Teachers can create single questions on the fly or select a set of questions from their personally curated libraries to add to their queue. After projecting the question on a screen, students hold up their custom response cards, turning the cards in different orientations to indicate their answers -- one side up for A, another side up for B, and so on. The teacher holds up a device such as a phone or a tablet and scans students' responses, which are recorded. Teachers can automatically project responses onto a screen and use the Scoresheet and Question History reports on the website to track students' progress over time. Teachers can organize their questions and mobile uploads into folders, creating handy question queues to save time in future lessons.
Responses depend on teachers physically scanning student responses, so if that system breaks down, it's hard to adapt. Scanning individual student cards will take a bit of practice, especially where there are large classes or where laminated cards may have a glare. Students should be careful to ensure that they're placing the card in the correct position before facing it forward to avoid accidental erroneous responses.
Plickers can be a valuable formative assessment, polling, or discussion-sparking tool for teachers with limited technology in their classrooms -- or a chance to take a device break in high-tech classrooms. The website allows teachers to create questions with text and images that offer multiple-choice or true/false responses, but teachers have to add their own value as much as possible, crafting high-quality questions that provoke analysis and inquiry.
Overall, Plickers addresses the critical need for teachers to rapidly get a sense of students' progress and adjust accordingly, using the data to identify students who may require additional support or challenges. This tool shines in its ability to avoid singling out students who are reluctant to respond in class discussions; the teacher can produce a less intimidating assessment that still allows for interventions as needed. It's not the flashiest rapid-response tool out there, but it can be a useful and engaging tool for classes that need a little extra push to participate. The ability to create teams would be a useful addition to promote collaboration and debate about correct answers, but teachers can work around this by holding off scanning until groups have agreed upon their answer.