21 January 2016

Plickers: Cheap and Easy Student Response System


Just like their motto, plickers are clickers, simplified.

Plickers are a great way to engage your students while concomitantly checking for understanding. This easy to use student response system allows teachers to check for individual student understanding in real time. So how do they work? Plickers work through the use of QR codes (you know those wierd bar-code like symbols that have been popping up everywhere for the past few years?)

QR Code
Check for understanding by student.
The teacher enters a question into the plickers app on their device, chooses the correct response, and projects/writes the question and responses for the entire class to see. Students hold up their plicker in one of four possible ways (each turn of 90 degrees will give a different response). This is the part where it gets interesting. The teacher then scans across the classroom with their device and picks up the various responses throught the camera in their device.
Kids love technology!!!

If your school is lucky enough to have a professional grade student response system, you may want to stick with that. However, these systems can often be difficult to set up and maintain (the clickers at my school need to be recalibrated often, taking valuable time away from prep time).

There are many ways to modify plickers to suit your needs in class. I created a class set, glued the QR codes to construction paper, and laminated them. They are available anytime I need to do a quick check for understanding. 

You can also choose to create a specific plicker for each student. If you choose this option, you can track student understanding over time, a great perk for the current push for data in education. If this is the option for you, you simply copy and paste your roster into the plickers website and it creates an individual QR code for each student by name. Then, when you scan your device across the class, you not only see how many students 'get' the lesson, but specifically which students are struggling.

I know that a lot of teachers already have a system in place to check for understanding, whether it's a simple thumbs up, color coded response, or some other way to indicate understanding. I have noticed however, that the class usually falls in line with the first person to respond. Plickers avoids this issue because the students responses are not clearly obvious to the rest of the class. 

I have used plickers with great success and the students always love using some new technology. I highly recommend this tool!





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