I love getting informal feedback from my students during lessons, and usually use the Socrative app for this in my classroom. Socrative is wonderful, and works on practically any device, but it certainly works better if you have more than one device in your classroom. Obviously, not everyone has this luxury. So, I was very intrigued when I ran across a post about a student response system that works quite simply with just one piece of electronic equipment required – Plickers.
I read about Plickers on a “Who’s Who and Who’s New” post by Debbie. She does an awesome job of detailing the use of the app, so please head over to her post if this brief summary piques your interest.
Basically, you set up a free account with Plickers (either online or in the app; the app is Android or iOS), and then set up a class. You can set up multiple classes if you choose. Then, you give each of your students in the current class a card with a barcode. You can print your own from their site, or order a set from Amazon. The barcodes are numbered, so you can be sure that the same student always receives the same one. If you look carefully at each card, you will see that each side of the barcode has a letter: A, B, C, or D. When you ask the students a question, they hold the card in front of them with the letter of their choice on top. Using the app, the teacher scans the room, and the app records the responses on a graph. The scanning takes seconds, and the teacher can see with a glance who understands the concept or feels a certain way about any multiple choice question.
For a free service, this is a pretty slick little app. It does not have all of the options that you will find in Socrative, but it certainly beats having your students do the old “thumbs up, thumbs down” response to help you get a feel for their understanding of a topic. And, it requires only one piece of technology. (Unless you want to count the printer used for the bar codes and the laminator you will probably want to utilize if you plan to use these on a regular basis.)
I tried this with my 4th grade class yesterday, and they loved it! Some of them are already planning to incorporate it into their Genius Hour presentations – along with the Free Game Show Soundboard app that I threw in just to make things even more exciting.
I’m not a big fan of using multiple choice questions frequently, but Plickers doesn’t have to be used just to quiz students on facts. You can have the students rate their feelings about something or vote quickly with their cards, too. Plickers are a great, inexpensive way to give students another alternative for showing what they know.