Thursday, April 24, 2014

"No-tech, high-tech" Plickers

This is the last week before the NJ ASK. It's very frustrating because there's still almost two months left of school so I haven't taught my students everything they need to know as eighth graders yet, but they will be tested on all of it next week. This week I've been trying to expose them to as much as possible of the curriculum that they haven't learned yet so they have a fighting chance...

Today's topic was transformations. I gave them a quick overview of translations, reflections, rotations, and dilations, how to plot an image of the original figure given the transformation, and how to determine what the transformation was given an original figure and the image.

So far, the lessons this week have been very dry and boring because I've been flying through the topics and haven't had time for any creative or fun activities. Today, I decided to change it up a little. 
I normally avoid giving my students multiple choice questions because I feel like all they do is guess and don't bother to actually work out the problem. (I don't like making up multiple choice questions either -- I'm not good at making up the wrong answer choices!) A few weeks ago I showed Plickers to the teachers in my professional development class and they thought it was pretty cool, so I wanted to try it with my students. I needed multiple choice questions in order to use Plickers so I went on Problem-Attic and curated 20 multiple choice questions related to transformations.

I explained to the class that we were going to try something new, "Plickers", and described them as "no-tech, high-tech". They were familiar with the clicker concept, so I said it's like using clickers, but it's just a piece of paper with a big, fat QR code. For the first few questions, I Reflected my phone up on the Smart Board so they could see the "high-tech" part. They were very impressed! (I think they really just liked seeing their classmates' goofy faces as I scanned past them to capture their responses!) 

I received nothing but positive feedback about using the Plickers from my students. Even the aides in my classroom thought they were really cool! The students appreciated the fact that it allowed them to change their answer if necessary. Some of the other assessment tools we have used this year would not allow this, informing them that they had already submitted their answer. The only issue I had was that occasionally when I tried to scan a student's Plicker, it would flop over because I only printed them on paper. I tried to print them on cardstock this morning, but the printer kept jamming, so I finally gave up and just printed on paper. I have to work on this before I use the Plickers again...

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