Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2018
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Plickers

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Useful, low-tech rapid-response tool promotes formative assessment

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.
3–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (31 Reviews)

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Pros: Paper response cards cleverly combine simple tools with mobile technology and allow teachers to modify instruction in real time.

Cons: One-at-a-time question entry will require significant time up front; questions are limited to multiple choice and true or false.

Bottom Line: This can be a useful tool for teachers looking to get quick feedback or snapshots of understanding in technology-limited classrooms.

Great lessons begin and proceed with well-thought-out questions, and Plickers can help teachers revamp warm-ups, quick checks, and exit tickets while collecting valuable data to help them monitor student progress. Start or end class in a meaningful, engaging manner by asking insightful, thoughtful questions, or challenge students to create questions to be used for quick reviews of information or texts. Begin a unit with a pretest of sorts, gaining valuable information on how to meet students where they are, and determine from the start who may require additional challenges or support. Promote metacognition by asking students procedural or reflective questions. Test-drive quiz and exam questions beforehand, providing time to self-reflect on your instruction before giving students a summative assessment. Need a little pick-me-up in class discussion or behavior? Create big-picture questions to jump-start class discussions and engage students, and break up multiple-choice monotony by letting kids debate the answers or stand up as they respond. Any way you use it, students are sure to prefer the interactive answer cards to paper-and-pencil assessments.

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Plickers is a rapid-response classroom-polling app that lets teachers use one mobile device to scan paper cards for student responses. There are iOS and Android apps as well as a web interface. Teachers can create single questions on the fly or select a set of questions from their personally curated libraries to add to their queue. After projecting the question on a screen, students hold up their custom response cards, 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 a phone or a tablet and scans students' responses, which are recorded. Teachers can automatically project responses onto a screen and use the Scoresheet and Question History reports on the website to track students' progress over time. Teachers can organize their questions and mobile uploads into folders, creating handy question queues to save time in future lessons. 

Responses depend on teachers physically scanning student responses, so if that system breaks down, it's hard to adapt. Scanning individual student cards will take a bit of practice, especially where there are large classes or where laminated cards may have a glare. Students should be careful to ensure that they're placing the card in the correct position before facing it forward to avoid accidental erroneous responses.

Plickers can be a valuable formative assessment, polling, or discussion-sparking tool for teachers with limited technology in their classrooms -- or a chance to take a device break in high-tech classrooms. The website allows teachers to create questions with text and images that offer multiple-choice or true/false responses, but 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, using the data to identify students who may require additional support or challenges. This tool shines in its ability to avoid singling out students who are reluctant to respond in class discussions; the teacher can produce a less intimidating assessment that still allows for interventions as needed. It's not the flashiest rapid-response tool out there, but it can be a useful and engaging tool for classes that need a little extra push to participate. The ability to create teams would be a useful addition to promote collaboration and debate about correct answers, but teachers can work around this by holding off scanning until groups have agreed upon their answer. 

Overall Rating

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

Students will like the novelty of trading worksheets for a more engaging medium, and teachers will like the useful snapshot they quickly gain with this tool.

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, which can be a challenge with multiple-choice questions.

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

It's easy to get up and running, but the help center provides extensive resources. Teachers can get ideas for use from social media sites.


Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

Teacher Reviews

(See all 31 reviews) (31 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Stephanie P. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Evergreen Middle School for Urban Exploration
Brooklyn, United States
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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