Saturday, January 31, 2015

No Chromebooks? No problem with Plickers!

I had a set of Chromebooks in my classroom for a whole semester. What a lucky gal I was. It was love at first sight and students in my 5 classes used them in their learning 3-4 times s week. Minus off an assessment day in class and that makes almost every day students using technology! What a great anytime, anywhere environment for students to learn Spanish and having the opportunity to connect to all that amazing culture in the world! Looking back on it, I had loads of opportunities to try out new approaches and new apps. 
This past semester I piloted e-portfolios with my AP class and dubbed Socrative as my favorite new formative assessment tool and was able to incorporate more Latinamerican culture into my choice boards which gave students more options during class time and more access to authentic resources! Students were creating and collaborating with Google, sharing and accessing documents quickly.  I added it up in my head, my students were using technology probably 60-90 minutes a week! And they were thriving.
Now that I don't have the Chromebooks this semester, I needed to solve the problem of access. I was able to solve the issue of a low tech/ barely no tech formative assessment option in the classroom. Enter Plickers. Plickers says that it is "a powerfully simple tool that lets teachers collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices" No lie. Plickers uses a set of student cards in conjunction with a smart phone or iPad used by the teacher for quick checks for understanding and to know whether your students are understanding big concepts and mastering key skills. I like simple, and I really needed something now that me and my students were without the laptops. 
Plickers provides you with free cards on their site or you can buy a laminated set on Amazon (very pleased with these!). After setting up the account on my laptop, I downloaded the app on my iPhone and iPad. Setting up my classes is pretty easy as well as the questions for the day. To use Plickers for a quick formative check of the day's material, I passed out the cards to the students and readied myself with my laptop running the program and my iPad with the app and camera ready to scan my students. Here are some screenshots I took of my AP students as we went over a reading activity with AP=level . Yes, look at those smiles! 

As you can see from the screen shot on the left, the correct answer was B and many of the students were answering C and D. After I got done with the Plickers, we all took another look at that problem and we were able to talk about the students' misunderstanding of the problem, refine their understanding and interpretation of the question. 
That's why formative assessment is so important; giving students instant, valuable feedback along the way, pinpointing areas that need readjusting, refining and getting back on track with learning. And that's why I like Plickers: it offers a viable solution to not having technology every day. No Chromebooks? No problem with Plickers!

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