On our first day back from Christmas break we had a teacher from another campus in our district come to present about writing. She was a fantastic presenter, and you can check her out at Taylor-Made Teaching. I am not going to lie though, my biggest takeaway was not about writing, but was instead a new to me technology tool, Plickers.
If you think back, you can probably remember using clickers either as a teacher or a student. For me it was both. I remember using them in a few high school and college courses, then again my first couple of years of teaching. From either side, student or teacher, I remember it being frustrating. They never seemed to work quite as advertised. The software always needed to be updated, and we never seemed to be able to stay ahead of the curve.
Enter Plickers, which is essentially clickers without the clickers. Instead it uses your smart phone and codes that you print for free. So, I signed up right away and got started.
To get started, you simply go the to Plickers website and sign-up in the top right hand corner. It is completely free, and requires very little information.
After that, you input your students. I matched my students to their class number and used first name only, but this is up to you. Just know that ultimately students are going to be assigned a number.
A couple of tips for the cards:
-print them on cardstock for durability
-do NOT laminate them, as the sheen can cause it to be difficult to read
You are now ready to make your own questions, which could not be easier. You simply type in your question and answer choices, and mark the correct answer. It does give you the option to allow multiple correct answers on a given question. Remember to hit save after each question, and it will ask you which class you would like to add the question to.
Each student has their own card with assigned number. Each card has a unique code. On the four sides of the square are the letters A,B,C, and D. For students to answer, they simply hold the card with their answer choice on top.
Make sure for this your overhead lights are on. We found that when we turned them off it didn't work. Additionally, any students that were sitting near the projector (ours are not mounted on the ceiling) had to face away from the projector in order for their code to be read.
On your smartphone it will give you a display of who has answered, if they answered correctly, and a graph of your students overall. From the website you can generate reports of how students answered as well.
My students absolutely loved this strategy, and I love that you can put pretty much any type of content into the questions. It is incredibly easy to use, and they BEG to do it more. It is now officially a part of our classroom routine.