This week in our presentation of assessment technologies we touched on a variety of tools that can be used for formative and summative assessment. The functions of some of these tools may serve the same purpose but what these tools allow for is an opportunity for teachers to truly engage students in the assessment process. I stress the word process as I truly feel that assessment should not be a one and done thing. Allowing our students the opportunity to show us what they really and truly know, opens the door to what can be learned once we know what they know.
You don’t have to search too far and wide to find a tool that will provide you an avenue for assessment that eliminates the pencil paper assessment. I am not suggesting that we should throw away all the pencils and papers! What I am suggesting is that we give something new a try to see what happens when we engage students in assessment in a different way. If you follow any of the work of Sandra Herbst or Anne Davies you will know that evidence of learning can be collected in a variety of different ways. They call it the triangulation of evidence, evidence that is “collected over time from different sources.” When we allow ourselves to be comfortable with learning about what our students know in new ways, we show them that we value what they know and want to know what they know, however they can share it with us.
When we embrace the opportunity to try something new we often surprise ourselves at just how well it can turn out. In her post this week Erin share’s about her first experience with using one of the tools share this week called Plickers! What’s even better about trying something new is quite often the reaction from students gives us that drive to try it again!
In our presentation this week Tyson shared about Plickers. I had originally heard about Plickers in a presentation at #skitsummit a couple of years ago. I remember thinking it was really interesting and setting up my account right there in the presentation. I got home from the conference and promptly forgot all about it! It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later when a colleague that I had attended the conference with was printing out her Plickers cards that I even remembered I had heard about this tool! That night before going home from work I printed out my cards, cut them out and laminated them. I set up a Plickers quiz for my kids the next day and we tried it out, they loved it! However, that’s about as far as it went. Prior to this year I hadn’t used it a lot, and I am not so sure I have the answer as to why but when I do use it the students really seem to enjoy it! I have set a goal this year to make a point of using it more for a quick snap shot of what each of the students know at that moment in time. Using what I gain in that moment, as formative assessment, to guide my teaching for the next lesson.
Earlier this year I had my students do a ‘Getting to Know Plickers” activity so that they could try it out, get the hang of how the cards work and see what happens once I have scanned the room. They love to see the check mark show up by their name once their answer has been scanned! As a quick side note, if you are using Plickers make sure that your students fingers aren’t covering any of the black box or letters, as your device won’t pick up their response. Below is a screen shot of what it looks like once you have formulated your questions and are ready to queue them up to use with your class.
We hadn’t used Plickers in a while and then just last week I had a student ask me when we were going to play “that card game” again because it was really fun! That was reason enough for me to put it in the day plan again! Even better, I knew this blog post was coming up so his timing really truly was perfect. He was excited to share and show me what he knew and I am not even sure he realized that there was more to it than just playing a game! We did talk about showing what you know before trying out a set of questions where the students had to pick our sentence errors! Here is a view of what it looks like from the teacher’s side of things as you are scanning the classroom.
When you initially set up Plickers there is a little bit of a learning curve to figuring out how to add your students, add questions, get your questions ready to share with the students and how to view the results. However, once you get the hang of how to set things up it works as a great tool for informing your teaching. Want to give it a try? Check out this tutorial video!
The video doesn’t mention that you can also use this tool to record opinions on a topic from your students. You simply don’t choose a correct answer and leave the options open. You can project the graph view to show the variety of opinions within the class.
Considering giving this tool a try? I’d love to hear how it turns out!