Conferences & Professional Learning, EdTech

EdTech Conference Takeaways: Plickers

First, let me say this: I cannot wait to use Plickers in my classroom!

Do your students love Kahoot? Then I bet they will love Plickers too! Bonus: the only devices required for Plickers are the teacher’s: your computer, projector, and smartphone or tablet. Students respond to questions you project on the board by holding up cards like this:

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Each card has a unique symbol, so students can’t just choose an answer based on what everyone else is holding up

This is a half-page image printed on regular white paper. You can print a set out from the Plickers website for free. On each side, you can see a letter – A, B, C, or D. You project a question on the board through the Plickers website (multiple choice or true/false), and students hold up their card to indicate the answer. Here’s the cool part: you collect their answers by scanning the room with your smartphone! On the card above, you also see a number (I was 25). You set up your classes in Plickers, and each student is assigned a number. So, when you scan the room to collect answers, you have immediate feedback on each of your students (as well as a record of who is participating). The presenter suggested having a set of cards for each class, and writing students’ names on their assigned card. Collect the cards and keep them in your room to avoid having to re-print when students inevitably lose them, and just have students find their cards on Plickers day.

I love using Kahoots, but I’ve had a few problems with them – students who don’t have devices, students who are “sharing” with their partner but not actually doing any thinking, students pretending to participate who are actually on social media, loss of connectivity, poor wifi, waiting for someone next to them to submit their answer so they can copy, randomly choosing an answer as soon the question pops up so they can be the first to answer, and that time my seventh period lost Kahoot privileges because someone put “john is gay” as his username.  I’m not ready to abandon Kahoots entirely, but I am excited to have another review/formative assessment tool in my arsenal, particularly as this one doesn’t require student devices. The biggest advantage that Kahoot has is the sharing/search ability – unfortunately, there is not (yet) an option to search questions or sets from other teachers on Plickers.

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Conferences & Professional Learning, EdTech

EdTech Conference Takeaways: Classflow

I am attending my county’s annual Ed Tech conference this week and have already learned so much! The first session I attended today was on Classflow, which is a lesson delivery system similar to Near Pod – slides can show up on student devices with options for quizzes, surveys, and open-ended responses. A friend demoed NearPod for me recently and I’ve wanted to use it, but I was frustrated with editing capabilities on the slides – mainly problems with the background and no way to control text size (limiting the amount of text on the screen). I’m skeptical about the time investment required for learning a new system, but Classflow might be worth it. A few notable features:

  • Classflow has the option to set up classes with your student rosters.  As you ask questions for discussion or formative assessment, you can keep track of who is participating. I’ve had trouble in the past with inappropriate things being published on my tech platforms, but since students enter the class under their name, they wouldn’t be able to anonymously hijack my presentation.  I also noticed that your name shows up in the corner of your screen, so you could easily monitor that students are logged in correctly as you walk around the room (not that high school students would ever impersonate someone else to cause trouble!)
  • Set up classes and push presentations to certain classes. So I can make my presentation for “Descriptions Vocab,” push it to first period, save all the data I get from 1st period, but then push the original again to second period. I always am rushing to reset my presentations (erase all the answers) between classes, so that would make life easier.
  • Import ActivInspire and SmartNotebook presentations. I switched classrooms this year and will have an Epsom projector, but I still have all my ActivInspire files from last year and SmartNotebook files from the four previous years. It would be much easier to import those files than to make a presentation from scratch (like I would with NearPod).
  • The presenter showed us a slide where students had to sort things into different columns. I think that would be a great way to do a vocabulary sort! I do vocab sorts on the board sometime, soliciting student input, or print flashcards and have them sort on their desks, but this would be a great way to do a sort without having to print anything.
  • The presenter also showed a music video and pushed the lyrics to our screens. What a great way to listen to a song in Spanish class! What about doing clozes that way, or send the lyrics with errors and have students listen for and mark mistakes? Or just a paper-saving method to share the lyrics with them?

Do you use a lesson-delivery system like Classflow? How does it work for you?