If you have been wondering how to use Plickers, this post is for you.
This may be my very favorite tech tool to utilize in my class, because time is money (in almost every profession other than teaching). But seriously, if you are like me and trying to break your days down to the second in order to cover your curriculum, Plickers is an invaluable tool.
Allow me to introduce you to Plickers, how I use it in my classroom, and walk you through how you can use it in yours.
Overview - What is Plickers?
Plickers takes the concept of classroom clickers, where all students are able to individually answer questions that are addressed to the class as a whole and provide the instructor with immediate feedback. However, instead of purchasing an expensive classroom set of clickers, each student simply needs their own QR code which can be printed off from the Plickers website. The only other resources that you need to have are a smart phone for the instructor to use to scan the codes (think panning across the room with your camera on, not scanning each code individually), and a computer screen that can be projected for all students to be able to see the questions being asked. Immediately after asking a question and scanning the unique QR codes, the instructor receives feedback about the class as a whole as well as each individual student without the students being able to see each others answers or scores.
How Can it be Implemented?
Let me step you through how I use it.
The first day I implement this in my classroom I give the QR codes to my students (which I have laminated and labeled their names on the back). Each student is assigned a specific code so it is important that they are not shared or inadvertently switched. The number that indicates the student it is assigned to is located on the corner of the code. The students are instructed to bring their QR code to class every day so they can be prepared to take a pre-assessment quiz at the beginning of each class period. I also keep an additional set in my desk for when a student will inevitably forget theirs.
I show the students that each side of their QR code corresponds to a multiple choice answer "a" through "d" (this means that when you write your questions, there cannot be more than four potential answers). In order for their answers to be properly scanned, they need to make sure they hold the code at the edge of the paper so the entire code is visible. I remind them that they cannot discuss their answers during the "quiz" (I like to use Plickers to individually access each student so I know how to best help them succeed. This way I can sort out the students who truly understand the material and those who are simply sitting close to those who do). I would encourage you to do a "fun" quiz the first time so your students get use to this format.
After I ask the question and scan the QR codes, we go over the answer to the question. My goal is for more students to answer the questions correctly as the quiz progresses and clear up any misconceptions or misunderstandings along the way. This way, when we move on to something new, I know that the students have a clear understanding of the previous material. Once in a while, I have had the majority of my students continue to get the questions wrong. Because I have received immediate feedback, I am able to adjust my plans for the day and review the prior day's lesson before moving on. This alone makes Plickers an invaluable tool that will save you entire days worth of teaching that students will not be able to absorb because of insufficient prior knowledge.
Plickers provides you with a grade breakdown that makes grading these quizzes take seconds rather than hours. Sometimes I can even get them entered during the three minutes between classes and still be ready to greet my incoming class. You certainly do not need to use these as a formal assessment, but I have found that assigning a grade (even a very small grade) to an assignment causes students to try their best and will give you a better picture of your students' understanding.
I use these quizzes as a way to start my class. Not only does it provide a great review of the previous day's material, but it is also allows the class to start focused and ready to work as soon as the period begins. Additionally, it allows me to indirectly take attendance by noticing which students' QR codes are not being scanned.
Ways to Use Plickers Beyond the Obvious
Making multiple choice assessments to be printed out (much quicker than using Word!)
Taking class polls or votes (ex. topics to be covered in elective class, field trip options, class president)
Survey students on their level of confidence in their understanding of the material
Have you used Plickers in your classroom? What is your favorite way to utilize this tool?