How I Use It
Plickers is a highly engaging tool that I use for formative assessment with my students. As long as the teacher has a computer and a mobile device with the app, it can be used in classrooms where students have limited access to technology. The teacher pre-loads multiple choice or true/false questions into the Plickers web application and enters student names in the numbered list. Plickers cards for each student can be printed out and passed out to students. Once students verify they have the correct number that corresponds to their name and understand how to rotate the card so the unique symbol indicates their answer on the A-D scale, they are ready to start. A selected question is projected from the computer screen, the students can do their problem solving on a whiteboard or scratch paper, then hold up their cards to show their answer. The teacher scans the responses with the app and can see a private screen indicating which cards have and have not been scanned and how each student responded. The teacher can project a graph showing a distribution of responses and which was the correct answer. There is a small learning curve for teachers learning to master using both the web tool and the app in concert. If the cards are curved, fingers are blocking the symbols, or if the scanning device (tablet or smartphone) is not being held in the correct orientation, Plickers will not work correctly and can be frustrating.
Plickers is an effective tool for formative assessment. My students are engaged and highly motivated to solve the math problems I have assigned because of the process and the private feedback they receive. The letters on the cards are quite small and offer a degree of privacy which encourages risk-taking and full participation. I like the immediacy of the feedback and the ability to preload my own questions, although it would be helpful if there were a searchable database of questions that teachers could access too. There have been problems for teachers mastering both the app and web tool interfaces and getting them to communicate properly. If the cards are not kept clean and held flat on just the edges, they may not scan. Teachers can experiment with the smaller and larger cards to see which works best for their class size, but do not laminate them. There are coated cards available for purchase, but I find the free cards work fine.