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Amazing App {Plickers}

As you all know from my many linky parties, I love Pinterest. It is such a great medium to share teaching ideas. The other night I was up at 4 a.m. with my daughter Macy when I came across a pin about an app called Plickers; you can read the original post here. After reading the post, I immediately went to the app store to download the app. Here are some thoughts about using the app!

Plickers: Thoughts about using the app to assess in the music classroom, or any classroom!

I've been wanting to get student response clickers for several years. If you haven't heard of them, they are like remote controls which students individually hold and enter in answers to questions you ask them. The clickers are very cool, as the data is all fed right into your computer about who answered which question correctly so you don't have to spend hours grading...but they also cost hundreds of dollars.

The Plickers app is like student response clickers...but for free.

This is the part that kept me up way after 4 a.m. This blew my mind....technology like student response clickers, but for FREE!?!?!

Yes, it's pretty awesome. It does take a little bit of work before you can use the app with your students. I decided I wanted to ask my third graders some questions about "long," the name we call half note while we are preparing it. Before I could use the app with this assessment, though, I had to take a few steps, which I will explain below.

After downloading the app in the app store, I went to www.plickers.com. After I set up an account, I began adding classes. I first had to do this on the website, and then the classes showed up in my app on ipad (but the app is available for free for ipad, iphone, AND android...which means you don't even need an ipad...you just need a smart phone!!)

Because I teach four classes of third grade, and didn't have their class numbers or magic numbers written down, I made sure to take time with each of those classes to check the students' numbers. In my school, all the students know their class numbers, or magic numbers, and most of the time, they are alphabetical...but every now and then, it's not alphabetical because of move-ins and move-outs, so you'll want to take time to make sure you have all the students' numbers written down correctly. I also only did this with one grade level--third--to begin with, so don't feel like you have to enter in your whole school yet!

After I entered names for the classes on the website--matching them up with their class number--I printed out the Plicker cards onto cardstock. You can download them on the website by clicking on "cards" in the upper left corner, like shown below:

I downloaded the free PDF and printed the cards onto cardstock. I have a maximum of 29 students in all of my classes, so I printed out that many cards. You might also laminate the cards. Here is a picture of my cards:

Plickers: Thoughts about using the app to assess in the music classroom, or any classroom!


Next, I created questions for their assessment. I decided to do a formative assessment, since this was the first time I was using it with the kids. I created this half note preparation assessment that you can download for free on Teachers Pay Teachers (just click the picture below!)


I also had to go to the plickers app and choose a shorthand name and answer for each question. To do this, I chose the class on your device, then chose the plus symbol to add a new question. Even though in my assessment, the question was "Which rhythm pattern did I just clap?" I just labeled the question "rhythmic pattern 1" then chose the answer (A, B, C, or D) so it was lit up green. I did this for all 6 questions, labeling the question and choosing the answer. Unfortunately, at this point, you have to do this with all of the classes individually, even if you are using the same questions with different classes. Once you get the hang of it, though, the process just takes a couple minutes. You might also add a test question where the answer is A so that before you do the assessment (especially if it is their first time using the cards) they understand how to hold their cards.

In class, I projected the assessment on my SMART board, then had only students 1-5 get their cards (which I laid out onto my counter; they just had to look for the number on the card.) Then students 6-10, then 11-15, etc. until all the students had their cards. I explained that when I ask a question, they have to figure out which answer they think matches. They hold up their card so that letter is on top. I first did a test question (like described above) to make sure everyone understood how to show me A as their answer. Then, I chose the camera icon on the app and began scanning the room. I should note that I when I went to check their answers, all of them were showing up as wrong...until I realized that I have to hold my ipad vertically in order for it to work! LOL!

Once I did the test question and students understood how to hold their cards, I flipped to the next question on my ipad, asked the question (showing them the question and possible answers on the board) and then had them vote by showing their cards. This part is amazing, because as you scan the room, it will tell you who you still need an answer from, who has answered correctly, and who has answered incorrectly! If I still needed an answer from someone, I just called out that child's name and made sure I got a good shot of their card, and voila! It tells me how everyone answered!

We went through each question, I collected data, and they were very curious about the whole process and how the cards communicated with the app. What was great about this particular assessment was that I realized that 6 of the 28 students thought that "long" (our preparatory name for half note) was 3 beats long. Many more students than I would have thought, so I will make sure to review that long is 2 beats long before presenting tie and half note!

The app can be used for any assessment--melodic, rhythmic, instrumental, whatever, or if you are a classroom teacher, the sky is also the limit! 

If you want to use this app, keep in mind:
  • You will want to download the app onto your smart phone or ipad.
  • You will want to check your students' class numbers.
  • You will have to enter your students' names onto the website. You might start small and just do one grade level if you teach more than one grade level.
  • You will need to print out the signs onto cardstock; you might consider laminating them.
  • You will want to create an assessment that you can show the students and enter in shorthand question labels and answers on your device.
  • You will want to think about where your students are sitting. In my classroom, I had them all facing the board, but then realized I didn't have enough room standing at the front of the class to get everyone's answer all at once, so the next time I did it I had students scoot back a few feet before I did the assessment (Or, you can just slowly scan the room.)
  • Then you can get excited about the data you will receive!
I hope the app works for you in your classroom. Please comment below with any questions or tips!


8 comments

  1. Aileen, I love this! I'm downloading it right now to do some end-year assessments.

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  2. Hmmm I'm going to definitely have to check this out!

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  3. Wow! Thanks for sharing, Aileen! I am downloading right now!

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  4. That is really neat! I will have to share this with my husband too!

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  5. This is intriguing to me; I've always wanted to be able to use the clickers but haven't due to many obstacles. I teach elementary music K-5 and have 22 homerooms, thus 500 students (and a lot of transience-each week kids are adding/dropping). Would this create a bigger headache for me to try it than not? In my classroom students don't have desks whereas homeroom students would store their cards inside. I assume I'd have to have 500 cards if I have 500 students. I'm guessing I'd have to store their cards in a filing cabinet of some sort and then distribute them which would eat up my class time. Also thinking this type of assessment system would only work with multiple choice tests instead of other formats. Did I get all excited only to have my hopes dashed due to too many obstacles?

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    1. Hi Christy! I also have over 22 homerooms and over 500 students, so I think it could still work. I think as long as the kids know their class/ magic numbers, and new kids are assigned numbers when they come to your school, it should be fine...it would just take a few minutes for you to delete and add names. When I passed them out, I had five piles. On the top of the each pile were cards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The second card in each pile was 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, etc., so five kids at a time got their cards. That part probably just took 2 minutes, and once they get the hang of it, it might even get a bit faster.
      Yes, probably only multiple choice questions would work here. You could do surveys too, like "Which song from music class do you like the best?" where there are no right or wrong answers.
      I would try it with one class/ grade level, tweak as needed, and go from there. That was my plan...I may not get to use it with a bunch of classes this year but plan on more for next year. Please let me know what you think...I hope it works for you and your kids!

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  6. Great post! I LOVE hearing about new apps. I have some of the same concerns as Christy. I have 24 classrooms (K-3), totaling about 550 students. However, if I could make it work, it would be wonderful. I'm always looking for an easy way to assess that doesn't take up precious class time :)

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  7. Thank you for this information! Looks really interesting and I have a perfect class to act as guinea pigs this Spring!

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