Clickers are used in university classrooms and increasingly in K-12 education systems as well. Clickers serve as an assessment tool for university professors to be able to gauge understanding over the material covered in class. Students simply click a button (A, B, C, D, or E) to respond to multiple choice or true-false questions. While they may not produce a full picture of a students’ mastery of a subject the same way essays, presentations, or application based projects could, they still serve as a useful formative assessment tool. Teachers gain immediate feedback and can use that feedback to modify whole class instruction or support low-performing students. Clickers are extremely valuable assessment tools, but what options are out there for those teachers who cannot afford to purchase clickers for each individual child? That’s where Plickers come in!

Introducing Plickers, Paper Clickers

Plickers are similar to clickers in the way they allow for real-time formative assessment data. Each individual student is assigned a number 1-40 (1-63 in large classrooms) along with a unique QR code-like block for each student. You can print out small versions of the cards or large versions of the cards for free on the official website or you can go to Amazon and purchase a class set of 40 laminated cards for $20.

Around each side of the QR code-like block there is a letter (A, B, C, or D) which accounts for the four separate multiple choice options as well as True (A) or False (B). The letters around each side of the block are in small print to help students answer anonymously. Meanwhile, you can provide a live view of responses directly on the board.

How-To Use Plickers

First you will need to create a class by going to “Classes“, “Add new class”, and then entering in relevant information about the class. You can then add students to your class by either individually entering in students names or by clicking “Add Roster” and entering in all student names at once. Then each student will be assigned a number. You can also change numbers around if necessary. Each class will be assigned numbers 1-40 meaning that you can reuse Plickers for multiple classes as well.

Once you have added all of your classes, click “Library” for all of your questions. You can create new questions and organize them into folders if you choose to do so. Once you create questions, you can add them to the queue by selecting Add to Queue and then pressing the yellow plus sign for each section of students you want to assign the question.

Once you have added questions, open up your Plickers App and select the class and question from your queue to which you would like students to respond. Have students hold up their Plickers and then scan the room to get live data of individual responses on your phone, while students can view whether their response was recorded or not on the board.

You can set the live view up by either displaying the students’ names or by displaying a graph of student responses. If you display students’ names on the live view, then next to each students’ name will be a white box. Once students respond to the question, a blue check mark will fill the box meaning that the student has already responded. It helps to display this information clearly on the board so that students know whether their plicker registered or not. You can also choose to reveal the answer at the end of each question to use as a segue into your lesson for the day.

How Accurate Are Plickers?

My first experience using Plickers was experimental. We had recently had our class set of Chromebooks taken away for PARCC testing and without 1:1 devices in the classroom, I was unable to use assessment tools such as Socrative or Kahoot. I had trouble finding time to enter in multiple grades a day for each of my 53 students and still have my assessments remain meaningful. As a 3rd grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher, I wanted plenty of time for my students to actually be reading and writing rather than filling out multiple choice tests.

I began testing the device while an ESOL teacher had come in to support the classroom. Frankly, I was embarrassed by the amount of time it took me to register all of the students’ Plickers. In my first class that I tested the device, I had 27 students who were all scattered across the room. I ran around frantically pointing my Samsung Note 5 at all the different students in the classroom trying to get the Plickers to register without much success. It took nearly 5 minutes simply trying to register all of the Plickers on my smartphone and that doesn’t even include the additional time it took for students to think and respond to the question. While my first attempt was not completely successful, I quickly adapted the way I used Plickers to get the most out of them.

Follow These Steps to Successfully Register Your Plickers:

  1. Make sure there is sufficient light in the classroom so that Plickers are visible on your phone
  2. Have each student hold the Plicker firmly with two hands at the top and point it at you (the teacher)
  3. Move your smartphone slowly across the room so that each Plicker is registered while standing in one single place

The projector in my classroom was not very powerful and required a very dark environment to be seen clearly, unfortunately those settings are not ideal for Plickers as they are not visible to your smartphone camera. If possible, leave half the lights on so that the projector is visible and leave half the lights on so that the Plickers are visible.

My first experience with Plickers involved 27 squirrelly 3rd graders shaking their Plickers all around. Several of the students only held the paper with one hand causing the Plicker to flop over or bend causing part of the QR code-like block to not be visible. To fix this I had all the students hold their Plickers from the top with two hands to prevent the paper from flipping over or being bent. I also had all the students face the Plicker towards me so that I could easily scan all of the Plickers from a single spot. Additionally, I noticed that if I scanned slowly, the Plicker was more likely to be registered on my phone than if I had moved my smartphone rapidly across the room (i.e. slow and steady wins the race).

Overall I found that once you take these steps, you will get accurate results. I have never had a misread of a response. The only times inaccurate responses were recorded are due to user error such as when a student either holds up the wrong side of the Plicker or they choose to spin their Plicker around.

Hope Plickers make your life easier and your students’ lives more entertaining!