Teacher Review for Plickers

Low-Tech Tool to Gauge Understanding and Foster Engagement

Eric W.
Classroom teacher
West Ottawa High School Campus
Holland, MI
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My Grades 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts
My Rating
Learning Scores
My Students Liked It Yes
My Students Learned No
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time More than 15 minutes
Great for Practice
Teacher-led lessons
Whole class
Great with Advanced learners
Low literacy
Special needs
How I Use It
I've found that when I ask students if they have questions, students often don't engage. Even if I ask them to vote for a favorite, sometimes only half the class will raise their hands. With Plickers, students hold a paper symbol up. I scan the classroom with my phone, and it records their responses. They rotate the paper to select A, B, C, or D as their response. I can start class with a warm up question like, "How do you feel?" or even, "Who's here?" if I want to take attendance. Plickers will record their responses. More usefully, I incorporate checks for understanding into my lesson. Periodically, I'll stop and have students answer questions using their plicker. I can see the results in real time and answer questions or clear up misunderstandings as they arise. Finally, I use plickers at the end of the lesson to check my students' mastery of the material. The Plicker website will record each student's response and even generate a report show the percentage of students who got a particular question wrong (and need re-teaching) as well as the percentage correct each student earned.
My Take
I like the fact that students don't need devices for this tool. So many things require students to have a cell phone, and I hate to single out the students who need to borrow someone else's device. The "paper clickers" put all students on the same playing field. Of course, this does necessitate more set-up time for the teacher. I print the papers, upload my class list, and make sure the correct student gets his/her designated plicker. I've seen that many teachers have students tape their plicker into a notebook and re-use them over and over. Creating the questions takes a little bit of time, but I like that the website allows teachers to build a library of questions and to sort them into different folders. It would be fairly easy to re-use questions among classes and from year to year. I was also impressed with how well my phone could read the responses around the room. I can display a table showing whose answer has been recorded (without showing my class their peer's responses), so it's easy to make sure everyone responds. I also like that the display can show the correct answer as well as a graph of how the class as a whole responded if I choose. Getting more feedback from my students and more data on their understanding will help me to correct errors and re-teach confusing concepts more effectively.