Review by Kirstin Sobotka, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2016
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Plickers

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Useful rapid-response tool for tech-limited classrooms

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
5–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (30 Reviews)

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Pros: Paper response cards have an appealing DIY feel, cleverly combining simple tools with mobile technology.

Cons: Limits quiz types to multiple choice and true or false; takes time to print cards, create quizzes, scan answers.

Bottom Line: This can be a useful tool for low-tech classes looking to do basic student responses.

Plickers can help teachers revamp exit tickets and daily class openers; students will start or end class in a meaningful, engaging manner so long as the teacher creates insightful, thoughtful questions. Give students the autonomy to create questions to be used for quick reviews of information or texts. Preview upcoming materials to gain footing on where to start the unit. Test-drive quiz and exam questions as a litmus test for summative assessments. Need a little pick-me-up in class discussion or behavior? Create brain-stretch questions to jump-start the class.

Looking for more teaching tips? Check out our suggestions for how to Make Formative Assessment More Student-Centered.

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Plickers is a rapid-response classroom-polling app that uses paper cards rather than mobile devices for student responses. There are iOS and Android apps as well as a web interface.

To conduct a poll, a teacher creates a question and projects it on-screen. Students hold up their custom response cards (each card is different), turning the cards in different orientations to indicate their answers (one side up for A, another side up for B, and so on). The teacher holds up a device (such as an iPad or Android device) and scans students' responses, which are recorded. Responses can be automatically projected on a screen in the classroom, and teachers can track each student's responses over time. Teachers can organize questions and mobile uploads into folders, creating handy question queues. Plickers also offers a Scoresheet, where student responses are collected; these responses can be color-coded and referenced for further instructional decisions per class or individual student.

Plickers can be a valuable polling tool for teachers with limited tech in their classrooms. There's something delightfully clever about its simplicity: Make sure each student has an assigned card, use a device to scan responses, and go from there. That simplicity has its limitations, of course. Responses depend on teachers physically scanning student responses, so if that system breaks down, it's hard to adapt. Additionally, the website allows teachers to create questions with text and images that offer multiple-choice or true/false response. Teachers have to add their own value as much as possible, crafting high-quality questions that provoke analysis and inquiry.

Overall, Plickers addresses the critical need for teachers to rapidly get a sense of students' progress and adjust accordingly. This tool shines in its ability to not place spotlights on nervous students who wouldn't normally respond in class discussions; the teacher can produce a less intimidating assessment that would still allow for interventions as needed. It's not the flashiest rapid-response tool out there, but it could be a useful and engaging tool in a teacher's arsenal for classes that need a little extra push to participate.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students trade pencil and paper for an engaging snapshot and formative assessment.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

The onus is on the teacher to make the questions rich enough to provoke critical thinking and deep learning.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Teacher dashboard offers great tips and troubleshooting. The help center answers most common questions, and there's a twice-a-week "Getting Started" webinar.


Common Sense Reviewer
Kirstin Sobotka Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Stephanie P. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Evergreen Middle School for Urban Exploration
Brooklyn, NY
A fun way to gather quick data on multiple choice responses for lower-tech classrooms.
Plickers is a great tool for classrooms where students don't have their own devices. My students fight over who gets to hold my phone and scan the class' responses, and they love seeing their name get checked off when their response is recorded. Once they see the breakdown of responses, we are able to have much richer conversations arguing the merits of different answers. Although it takes some time to set up the classroom and print the cards, the efficiency of the data is extremely helpful and the engagement makes it a worthwhile tool for classroom use.
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