Sunday, October 25, 2015

My Plicker Experience

I have heard about Plickers for a couple of years but it hadn't made it to the top of my list until this year.  I ordered mine from Amazon - printed, cut, laminated, nice and square - worth the $20.  Yes, I know I could do that myself, but it wasn't happening, so I ordered.  (By the way, a Plicker is a paper clicker.  It is a QR code assigned to each student and has A, B, C, D around the square for multiple choice answers.  The students hold the card so the letter they pick is facing upwards.)

I set up my 5 classes by typing in the kids name.  Pretty easy.

I have an apple computer, apple tv, and an ipad, so it makes it all easier.  I write the question on my computer in plickers.com.  Then, I assign it to the class, hand out the plickers, and hit "live view".  With my ipad in hand and the plickers app loaded, I select the question and it shows on the board.

You can show the students or the graph.  I suggest student view but do not click view answer.  This will just show up with a check off if you scanned each student.  If you click view the answer, it will show up as red if wrong and green if right.  Maybe you want it, maybe not?  Then you can click on graph and get a bar graph.  Click on reveal answer and again it color codes it.  Nice graphic for quick formative assessment.

I tried it first in my Accelerated Algebra 1.  I made the questions pretty basic as I was really just trying to figure it out.  I drew the conclusion the question needed to be pretty automatic so you aren't waiting for some one or two students to still calculate something while the others are all holding up their plickers to scan.

My first question and results looked like this:



So, I was thinking, Plickers is okay.  The kids thought it was really good to scan with the ipad.  It is pretty impressive.
But, I was thinking, how can I ask meatier questions and how can I use it as a formative assessment tool?  In order to use it as a formative assessment tool, I would need to do something with the results.  I teach both Accelerated Algebra 1 and Accelerated Algebra 2, so I know what the 2 students were taught in 1.  Now, do they remember it.  In Alg 1, they were taught about imaginary numbers and operations with and solving quadratics with and complex conjugates.  I didn't want to direct teach the same stuff again, so I thought....Plickers!  I would ask 3 Do Now problems in a powerpoint.  The kids would do them.  Then, I pulled up Plickers with the same questions now in multiple choice format.  So, it shouldn't be a matter of waiting to scan as the kids should be able to find their answer.  If the results are pretty good, I will do one lesson. If not so good, I will do a different lesson.  If they did well, I would take out my large group whiteboards and we would brainstorm everything we can recall about imaginary, then share as a class to add to their boards if they were missing anything.  I would give them some problems to practice.  If they didn't do so well, we would go back to the beginning with me leading the class and direct teach - vocab, when to do each operation, how to do each operation, practice each.

Here is what happened:















Yikes!  My 5th period was about the same.  So, it was plan B, they both got me direct teaching.  I did reflect on it.  I remembered they were good with it in Algebra 1 - able to solve quadratics with imaginary numbers.  Then, they didn't use them at all in Geometry.  It did come back to them when we refreshed.  It also caused me to reflect on my teaching it in Alg 1.  Will I do it differently?  I am not sure.  I will think about it when I get to that point again.

So, Plickers does get a big thumbs up.  I do like the idea of giving the kids the questions first to do before projecting them.  However, maybe for a quiz review when things should be a little more automatic, you could do straight plickers and check for understanding.

Will you try it?


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