A great friend of mine recently told me about a new whole-class polling and grading system called Plickers. At first, it sounded complex; however, it actually user friendly and the students were pretty amazed by it.
With the new AzMerit exam that is rolling out this year in Arizona, I felt the need to try and prepare my students as best as possible (even though we all really don’t know how this new test is going to go or what it is going to end up counting for as this changes on the daily). We accessed the practice test online and a colleague typed it up in a Word document for all of us to be able to copy (shout out to Erika).
I made a class set of the practice exam and had my students work in groups to read the test and talk through what they thought were the answers. They put their answers down on a group answer document and turned it it when they were finished. It was awesome to hear them really discuss the answer options and finally end up on a consensus of which one they thought was correct. It took the entire hour and I thought this helped not only the students feel more comfortable with this newly formatted test but also, gave them the confidence they needed that they can do this test and that it really isn’t that bad.
The next day, I had my students pick up their ungraded answer documents from the back table. They were a bit perplexed and asked why I didn’t grade them. I told them that I was trying out a new grading system today (i.e. Plickers) because I wanted to see the class averages on each question and be able to see which questions the they all missed and be able to help talk to them through those questions so they know why their answers were incorrect. I told them for every question they missed as a group, they needed to do test corrections (basically take notes as I talked through the right and wrong answers).
Then, they sat at their table to find the class set of the tests with the questions (for reference) and these beauties below ready for them and were even more confused. It was great. Sometimes I just like to surprise them as it keeps the classroom environment “fresh”.
Basically, you print and then cut one of the above scanner codes for each table (or each student, yes they have up to 40 different version on their website so next year I am so doing this for every kid). Depending on what the student answered, they turn the scanner code a certain way (A, B, C, D) as noted on all four sides of the scanner code. You need to download the Plickers App on your phone before class.
I opened the app, chose the question (that you need to make ahead of time through the website) and asked the groups to hold up their answer using the scanner code. Then I just used my phone (the app) to scan the codes across the room (not having to move from the front of the room at all) and TADA, a beautiful bar graph displayed on my screen in REAL TIME as I scanned to show me the data and data is what I needed! Check it out – – –
The students loved seeing their answers register as I scanned the room and also loved when I revealed the correct answer when they were split between two different answers. It was really fun and I was able to get a gauge on the class’ progress. I am happy to report that the lowest class average was an 82% and the highest was a 92%. They were all feeling pretty good about themselves but they were also able to really ask me questions about the questions and answers and I was able to help them through it.
I am already thinking about ways to use this awesome app/system with coming assignments or even warm-up practice questions, grammar review, ACT prep…the list goes on.