Apps, Education, K-12, QR Codes, Student Response, Teaching Tools

Take Your Pick with Plickers

Sample screen shot of Plickers app in action
Sample screen shot of Plickers app in action

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.

Sample Plickers Card
Sample Plickers Card
3-12, Apps, Critical Thinking, Education, Student Products, Student Response, Teaching Tools, Web 2.0, Websites

Use Socrative as a Back Channel for Genius Hour

http://www.socrative.com/
http://www.socrative.com/

A few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of the “Back Channel” during a technology conference.  For those of you who have not used this before, it’s basically an online account where audiences can post questions and comments during a presentation instead of interrupting the speaker.  Every once in awhile, the speaker can refer to the back channel, and speak to the points brought up by the audience.

Today’s Meet is a common web application used for this purpose.  When I tried it a few years ago, it was blocked by my district.  There are others (some people use Twitter, Edmodo, or Google Drive)  that I’ve tried since then, but I gave up for awhile, frustrated with technical issues I kept encountering.  Plus, I don’t really lecture a lot, so it seemed unnecessary.

We had a parent visit my 5th grade GT class the other day to present Google Glass.  He had come to the 4th grade class a few weeks before, and the students seemed to have a hard time giving him a chance to speak.  So, I thought about trying the “Back Channel” concept one more time.

This time, I decided to use Socrative.  Socrative has been a free student response tool that I’ve used for several years, and it never lets me down.  There are apps available for the teacher and student, but you can also use the web-based version.  I generally use Socrative for exit tickets or quick quizzes ( the students absolutely LOVE the Space Race option!).  But there is also a Single Question, Short Answer option that I decided to try out as a Back Channel.

Before the Google Glass presentation, I explained to the students that we would be using Socrative for their questions and comments, and that we would periodically pause to hear our guest’s responses.

I loved how this worked.  With a few scheduled pauses, we could glance at the list of questions, and see which ones had already been answered, which ones were common or unique, and address any misconceptions.  The only thing I didn’t like was that one student got silly with her comments (and subsequently got her iPad taken away).

I’m planning to start using this for Genius Hour presentations.  It seems counterintuitive to have the kids typing while someone is speaking, but it actually appears to keep them more engaged, as most of them are genuinely interested in coming up with good questions and comments.  It’s also nice that Socrative allows you to download or e-mail yourself a record of the responses.  Copies could be given to the presenters to help them with a reflection about their project.

Socrative has a new 2.0 beta version, which is much more visually appealing here.  (I used it when it first came out, but there were a couple of glitches.  They have probably been resolved since then, but I haven’t had a chance to test it out recently.

If you plan to try Socrative for the first time, here are a few “housekeeping” tips:

  • Sign up for an account here.
  • Either download the student app or add a desktop shortcut to the web app on each student device.
  • Show the students how to access the student page, and to input the room number.  Younger students may need help figuring out how to get to the numbers on the keyboard!
  • Have your students enter just first names or initials when prompted.
  • If you are doing a Single Question, Short Answer activity for a Back Channel, be sure to choose unlimited Student Responses, and request their names (this provides accountability).
  • Make sure students log out when the activity is finished, so students who use the device the next time don’t get confused.

Of course, not every classroom has one to one devices.  You can have them pair up, pass a device around at tables, or have recorders who type in questions or comments that students have written down.  (This way, all questions/comments can be in the same document, instead of various pieces of paper.)  If you are really low on tech, Jared Stevenson (@eduk8r_Jared) mentioned during the #txed Twitter chat last night that he once saw a teacher who used a special spot in the room for students to post their questions.

The point, as always, is to give students a meaningful voice.  Socrative is just one way to do this that I’ve found to be very efficient and to enhance our learning.

Apps, Education, K-12, Student Response, Teaching Tools, Web 2.0

Socrative (Reblog)

For the summer, I have decided to use my Tuesday and Thursday posts to reblog some of my favorite posts that some of my readers may have missed the first time around.

Socrative is a student response system that pretty allows you to use any device with internet access, instead of having to purchase expensive separate hand-helds.  Once registered (and it is free), the teacher can create quizzes, exercises, and quick exit tickets.  It could be used in “real time” by students who each have an iPod Touch/iPad or laptop, teams of students who share an internet enabled device, or even by students at home or rotating through one computer in a classroom center.  I used this on a regular basis with my students last year, and they loved it.  I appreciated getting instant feedback on what they knew or how they felt about a topic.  They enjoyed making it into a game with the “Space Race” feature that showed their team rockets moving forward on our classroom screen as they answered questions correctly.  The teacher can have a spreadsheet with the results sent by an e-mail when the quizzes are completed, and graphs can be viewed by the entire class of the results.  Many of these things can be done using Google Forms, but Socrative makes it easier and more fun for the students.

UPDATE:  Socrative can be used as a web-based program, but now also has an app for  Android and iDevices available (also for free).

K-12, Student Response, Teaching Tools, Websites

Socrative

Socrative is a student response system that pretty allows you to use any device with internet access, instead of having to purchase expensive separate hand-helds.  Once registered (and it is free), the teacher can create quizzes, exercises, and quick exit tickets.  It could be used in “real time” by students who each have an iPod Touch/iPad or laptop, teams of students who share an internet enabled device, or even by students at home or rotating through one computer in a classroom center.  I used this on a regular basis with my students last year, and they loved it.  I appreciated getting instant feedback on what they knew or how they felt about a topic.  They enjoyed making it into a game with the “Space Race” feature that showed their team rockets moving forward on our classroom screen as they answered questions correctly.  The teacher can have a spreadsheet with the results sent by an e-mail when the quizzes are completed, and graphs can be viewed by the entire class of the results.  Many of these things can be done using Google Forms, but Socrative makes it easier and more fun for the students.