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Recently, I have read numerous rave reviews about elementary teachers using Plickers (website, iOS app, Android) in their classrooms. I have used Socrative for pre- and post-testing my 2nd and 3rd graders, which has been extremely successful. However, I wanted to use a tool that could collect data for an exit ticket from my classroom. I also wanted to know how my youngest students were feeling about the material, i.e. dances, creating music, composing, reading music, etc. Socrative has an excellent format for exit tickets, which is built into the program. I have a a few portable devices in my classroom, but it is not a 1:1 classroom. Though Socrative makes the exit ticket process very simple, it would prove challenging in my classroom due to the minimal writing skills of my youngest students and the lack of 1:1 devices.
This is where Plickers became a very accessible and user-friendly system. When I want to use a technological tool to collect data, I look for the following items: user-friendly login (especially if the students have to login), not too challenging system to set up the class rosters, and for the tool to collect and sort the data easily and effectively.
Setting up an account and class lists:
One of the benefits to Plickers is that the teacher can set up the free account and the teacher can download the free app to their device. The students do not need any devices for you to easily collect their exit ticket data and the students do not need to login. The students just need the Plickers cards for you to collect data.
- No Devices: The students do not need to login or even handle a device.
- Free Plickers
- Cards: The cards can be downloaded for free from here in sets of 40 or 63.
- Saves Paper: When I downloaded the set of 40 cards, they have them set up with two cards on one paper. Therefore, they save paper when you print them out and you only need your school’s paper-cutter to separate them.
- Matte-Laminated Cards are Available: For a small fee, you can order a set of 40 matte-laminated cards from Amazon.
- You Can Mount Them on Construction Paper: I have had success mounting the free set of cards to colorful cardboard paper. The first seven colors coordinate to boomwhacker colors.
- Setting Up Class Lists: If you have a file with the class names on it, you cut and paste the names into a new class and it automatically assigns the numbers to the students.
- Printing Out the Class Lists: Remember to print out the list of students’ names and their corresponding numbers.
- If you try to laminate them with a laminator that is not matte, you will have glare issues when you go to scan them. The glare can prevent the data from being recorded.
- If you do not have a file of student names, you will have to type them in.
- If you forget the list of the students’ names with the corresponding numbers, you cannot access them through the app. You would need to login using the website.
You can successfully add questions using the website or the app. I like to create folders for my questions so that I can easily access them per grade level.
- Easy setup: To create the questions, click on “Library” and type in the question.
- Simple format: The questions can be true/false or multiple choice.
- Pictures: You can add a picture to the question, so if you were performing an assessment about note names, you can create and add a picture of the staff with a note on it.
- Folder: You can place the questions into folders so that they are organized to your liking.
- Website or App: You can add questions through the website or the app.
- Add to Queue: You can assign the same questions to one or more classes by adding it to the queue.
- If you are looking for the students to type answers to the questions, then this is not the system for you.
- The system can only have four answers for multiple choice. This is only a challenge if you need more than four answers.
- You cannot number the question; however, when you access the questions when using the app to assess the students, you can ask the questions in any order that you would like.
Assessing the students:
It took me a couple of tries to get this to be successful. The first class was one that I knew I would be working out the kinks. By the second class, I had the Plickers system working successfully when assessing the students at the end of the class.
- Showing the Students How to use the Plickers Cards: Give the students their Plickers cards. Show them how to place the cards if the answer was “A”. Do the same for the letters “B”, “C”, and “D”.
- Accessing the Free App and the Questions: I opened the app and signed into my account. The questions and class lists were immediately present. I clicked on the class name, then clicked on “Library”, and then the folder with the questions. All of the questions appeared on the screen and I can now ask them in whatever order I please. When you want to ask a question, click on the question.
- Assessing the Students: Ask the students a question and have them answer using their Plickers cards. Click the “Scan Now” button and point the iPad (or tablet you are using) at the students. You will now see the students and their cards. In addition, you will see the students’ names and the letter that they are holding up. The app makes it very easy for you to see who is answering, what answer they are giving, and if their card is being read by the app. The app will also give you a current tally of their answers. Once you see that all of the students are answering, then click the check mark. The answers are now recorded.
- The App Works Offline: I was using the Plickers App in a room that does not have wireless internet access and the app worked perfectly.
- It took me a couple of tries to position the students so that I could get them all in the iPad frame.
- Since I had to place them close together, I could see that some students were looking at other students’ cards and had to address this issue.
Accessing the Data:
Once I was finished, I went back to my classroom and accessed my Plickers account. I clicked on “Reports” and immediately saw the results of the exit tickets. I can now print my reports, or export them as a pdf through the printing icon.
- Data Collection: The data was immediately recorded and collected.
- You Can Export the Data: I can print or download the data and use and share it accordingly.
- Currently, you can only generate reports on a question-by-question basis through the Plickers website.
- You cannot export your results to a spreadsheet.
- You cannot generate individual student reports.
- You cannot generate reports for multiple questions at a time.
The latter challenges were ones that guided me to use Plickers as more of an exit ticket, rather than a formal assessment. And Plickers is excellent for that, especially with younger children and for those who do not have multiple devices in their rooms to collect the required data asked of them. However, recently Plickers announced the following: Plickers Scoresheet. According to their website (http://blog.plickers.com/introducing-plickers-scoresheet/):
“We’re thrilled to announce our best reporting feature yet: Scoresheet, a flexible way to review your students’ results over multiple questions. You can use Scoresheet to monitor student progress and save time grading: color-coded student and question averages make it easy to identify questions to review and spot students who need more help. With the launch of Scoresheet, we’re excited to be one step closer to realizing our vision of making data accessible and actionable for teachers and students in classrooms everywhere.”
Overall, Plickers is a great assessment tool, especially for those with younger students, those who have students with limited writing abilities, and for those with limited access to portable devices. The fact that this tool requires only one device to use to assess an entire class quickly is amazing. I look forward to using this system further and to report back later.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com