Bingo!!!! That’s what I stayed out late last night doing with some friends from work. I’m sure this completely contradicts what I wrote last week about fun in my life, but I didn’t say I never had any fun! It was my first time playing bingo outside of my classroom, and I was amazed at how technology has been incorporated into the game. It really reminded me of how my latest experiment with response rate techniques also blends technology with a traditional response – Plickers.
Getting Started with Plickers
To begin, you need to go to the Plickers website and set up a free account. Here’s a quick video tutorial about how to get started.
A Novel Way to Learn
The initial set up is the hardest part, in my opinion. Of course, if you’ve never used it before, there is the added bonus of novelty. My students are always more engaged in any lesson that uses something new. That’s why teachers need a huge repertoire of techniques and strategies to counter the effects of habituation leading to the dreaded whine, “I’m bored!”
I chose a pre-existing set of questions that came with the reading series I use and typed them in to my Library. The website has a live view page that syncs with your smartphone and displays the question with answer choices to your students. The question you tap on your phone, is the question that is displayed. Here’s what I did…
- Display the question/choices. Using my interactive whiteboard, my students and I read the question and choices aloud. This is also a great time to practice test-taking skills such as finding evidence in the text and eliminating obviously wrong choices.
- Discussion/think time. I chose a test based on a story we had read together in our guided reading groups. Students could search the text, if needed, to find the answer.
- Scan the cards. This part takes some practice. Teach students to hold the cards by the edges so they don’t accidentally cover up any of the code with their fingers. They also need to be taught the direction in which to hold the card so as to show their answer. In tiny print along the perimeter of each card is an A, B, C and D. If a student wants to select choice A, then they hold the card with the A on top, and so on. Don’t worry if you can’t scan your entire class in one shot. You can do this multiple times until you get everyone’s response captured. You and your students can see how many responses have been captured and just keep going until you have everyone’s answer recorded. On your phone, you can see which specific students you somehow missed and try again.
- Look at the results. The live view gives you the option of showing a list of your students or a graph. The first is nice because a check mark appears next to each student’s name once their choice is recorded. The graph is nice because you and your students can see their collective answers without any one student being “called out” as having given a wrong answer. Accountability without the humiliation.
- Follow up discussion. If a lot of students missed a question, we take the time to review why that might have happened. Was it how the question was worded or are their misconceptions that I didn’t know my students had about the information?
There’s definitely a bit of a learning curve with this website, but I think with time and practice it could be worth the investment. One thing I would warn about…make sure you have a way to re-charge your phone. It used up a lot of my phone’s battery!
Reflecting on 2014
That’s it! As another calendar year comes to an end, I want to take a moment and do what comes naturally…reflect! What a year! This post marks the end of my second year as a blogger. Last month I published my 100th post and recently finished my first year with a store on Teachers Pay Teachers. I’ve accomplished several long-awaited goals and continued to grow and learn as an educator. I’m definitely living the dream! I’m going to take a few weeks off to enjoy the holidays, re-charge my “batteries” and collect some fresh ideas for my classroom. I hope you have a very merry Christmas and a wonderful new year. See ya in 2015!