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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Plickers in the Classroom

If you are anything like me, you are always looking for a fresh way to assess your students. Additionally, my assessment needs to be exciting and fast-paced to keep up with the attention span of my middle schoolers in the afternoon. I came across Plickers and it checked all the boxes. Formative assessment...check. Technology driven...check. Fast-paced...check. So I decided to test it out with my 8th grade class to see if 1. I could get it to work and 2. the kids enjoyed using it as an assessment.

So what is Plickers?

It's a classroom polling system which can display results in real time. That's the key. As soon as the students respond, results are posted instantaneously. In my opinion, the immediate posting of results is essential in a classroom full of tweens and teens. They love the instant gratification and the game-like feel.  And along the way, they lose sight of the fact that they are also learning. It's a win-win!

How did I get started?
  1. I downloaded the Plickers app onto my phone. They have an app for iPhone and Android.
  2. Go to and sign up for the service. It's free and there are not hidden costs to use it. YAY! 
  3. Click on the Cards link in the toolbar. This will take you to the page to download the Plickers cards.  They have multiple choices for cards. Choose the set that works best for you. Then just print them, cut them, and laminate them. Hint: If you don't have the time or you would rather have cards that are less likely to be destroyed by middle schoolers, you can purchase a set of 40 hard, laminated ones on Amazon for $20.00. I actually saw them on Amazon before realizing I could do them myself from the Plickers website. After getting the ones from Amazon, I'm pleased that I got them. They were high quality cards that were all ready for my classroom without all the hassle. 

  4. Create a class on Plickers website and assign card numbers to your students.
  5. Create your questions. 
Links to helpful resources I used
  • A step-by-step "Getting Started Guide" which walks you through the entire process was what I used. There is also a webinar you can watch but I didn't need to after using the guide above.
  • A step-by-step YouTube walkthrough that helped me because I could follow along and do it as I watched the video. So easy to follow and helped this visual learner.
  • Another helpful YouTube walkthrough to see Plickers in action.
Once I had done those steps, I was ready to use it in my classroom. We had just completed a short review unit on figurative language so that's the content I used to create my questions. Simple eleven questions to get my feet wet.

The kids came in and I passed out the Plicker cards and there was instant interest. It was new and the shapes printed are the cards are funny looking so everyone was curious. I told them I wanted to try something new with them that day and they are usually good sports about being my guinea pigs. I explained how to use the cards (the correct letter of answer had to be up and they should keep their fingers along the edge so the shape could be read).

The first question was up on the board, my iPhone app was open, and I said a little prayer that it would work. They put up their cards and I scanned the room. I was shocked by how quickly the answers registered on my phone and on the screen. IT TOTALLY WORKED! And they totally loved it! Yes!! <insert fist pump here> 

What did the students like about Plickers?
  1. Technology was used.
  2. They knew immediately if their answer was right or wrong.
  3. No one could cheat off of them because no one could see their answer on the card.
 What did I like about Plickers?
  1. I know instantly if my students understand a concept. 
  2. My students get immediate feedback on their learning.
  3. It's free to use and requires NO student technology.
How can Plickers be used?
  1. Quickly take the pulse of the class: Ask your students "Do you get this?" or similar question and have them hold up their cards to answer yes or no. You can do this with a saved class or a demo class (if you want anonymous answers).
  2. Create a review game: Create a group of questions in your saved class. To conduct the review, have students hold up their assigned cards to respond to each question. Every student responds at the same time and you see quickly the status of your class.  The advantage to this over regular review games is that all students answer at same time. They can't wait for someone else to answer. They all are required to answer.
  3. Take attendance using a question or just have them hold up their cards to check in. You will know those that are absent immediately. Note: In order to do this, students would need to be trained to get the correct card out quickly.
Final Thoughts

Does it work 100% of the time? Probably not. Sometimes you may need to re-scan a student's card if it's not visible because of being hidden behind another student's card or head. If you project the results on a large screen, like a Promethean Board or Smartboard, then students can see if their answers have been recorded and lower or raise their card to be re-scanned. 

If you decide to print, cut, and laminate the cards, there may be issues recognizing the codes due to overhead glare from indoor lighting. Lamination tends to create a glare. This can be adjusted in the way the cards are held.

With that being said, give Plickers a try in your classroom. If you are looking for a new and interesting way to assess in your classroom, it's worth a go. I'm glad I did and will be adding Plickers to my toolbox of assessment techniques. If you are interested in trying Plickers and / or have more questions, feel free to leave me a comment and I would be happy to help you through the process.

Happy Plicking!!