Plickers: low-stakes testing and immediate AFL
Currently, using Plickers has been beneficial for me to understand the needs within my classroom in several ways. The app itself is easy to set up and is a reliable way to incorporate technology within the classroom.
Setup: Plickers depends on you having a smartphone or tablet. You download the app and can begin to input class data. The benefit of this app is that it has a desktop site that can be displayed on your desktop or projector. Simply drag a class list from SIMS and drop it into your class folder. Students are assigned a number that correlates to a ‘Plicker’. Because the teacher is the only one required to use a device you do not have to worry about: sourcing iPads or ensuring they all have their own device, providing Wi-Fi or internet access; there being connection issues; misuse of devices or any other issues.
Application: When you ask a question you scan around the room and students provide you with either a multiple-choice response (A, B, C or D) or a yes/ no answer. The benefit of this approach is that it can provide you with data that can then be imported into a spreadsheet or simply displayed on your desktop. You now have immediate and up-to-date assessments of students’ learning and they can avoid any social stigma that could be present in the classroom with them asking for help.
By having a bank of comparable data it allows me to identify trends in student’s needs. In English we have recently been covering the rules for a comma; I can display the progress made by students in each lesson through the use of Plickers because I have a record of the questions they answered and I can now target my intervention based on this.
Questioning is a useful method of differentiation for teachers. Sometimes we can be under pressure to evidence differentiation, which can be difficult to do through questioning. Plickers allows you to digitalise your questions and keep a record of them. In lesson, I have targeted questions to specific students as a way to differentiate and to provide accessible questions.
Marking has been the focus of several articles recently. If you are frequently performing low-stakes testing in your lessons, possibly a spelling test or practising the times tables, then Plickers could be the app for you. Why not provide students with the test in this form? You would have instant grades for all students and you could import the information or print it out.
The small numbers around the edge of the cards make it difficult to cheat. In addition to this, each ‘Plicker’ looks different which means that students cannot copy or chastise one another for displaying the incorrect answer.
Plickers could seem like another educational fad that will soon lie unused like so many other schemes and initiatives. However, I believe Plickers is different because it is not pretending to solve all of your classroom problems or take the work out of teaching. I have found it to be a fun tool that stimulates students when used and introduces an element of competition when ordinarily there may not be one.
As a teacher you can choose to display students results or have a pupil friendly version, which only shows you their mark. This can be useful in some instances but I prefer to keep their mark between the student and myself.
I would encourage everyone to try using Plickers. It is a method of incorporating more technology, reducing your marking and providing up-to-date AFL information in a low stakes testing manner. It is best to see it in action! There are several members of staff that use it in Wilmslow or you can get more information on youtube.com or the appstore.