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Quick Formative Assessment for iOS and Android
When I taught English in Costa Rica, I would often have my class turn in “exit tickets” at the end of class. These would require my students to use a new verb tense or sentence structure or ask them to answer questions about a topic we had discussed before leaving. These provided me with valuable insight into how well my students had grasped the topic we had gone over. There were some major downsides though as well. First, I had to go through and tabulate them to make any use of them. This can be very time consuming depending on the size of the class and leads me to the second downside. It creates a huge delay in terms of the time of giving the assessment and actually using it to provide informed instruction. Research has shown that the delay in students getting feedback on their work or grasp of a concept can be a real hindrance to their learning.
To get around this many schools, primarily universities due to cost, have deployed clickers. Clickers are handheld wireless devices that allow students to respond wirelessly to questions posed by their teacher. This data can be tallied in real time and allow the teacher to pivot back to topics that need to be covered, immediately creating a tight feedback tool that can further empower instruction.
The issue with clickers is their cost. Class sets can be thousands of dollars and that doesn't include maintenance and other costs. The good news is that an app is out that can provide much of the functionality of clickers is out and has just come out for iOS, having been released as Android only previously.
The app in question is called Plickers, and it flips the idea of clickers on its head. Rather than each student having a electronic device that sends data to be tabulated, Plickers relies on the multi faceted skill set of mobile devices to have one device, scan, tabulate, display, and track results.
How it works is that the app, Plickers,is loaded on to an Andriod/iOS phone or tablet for free. Then the students are given cards, that can also be printed for free, that have a QR-like barcode on them. These cards have their edges labeled with A,B,C or D; see where this is going? The teacher asks a multiple choice question and the students hold the card up with their answer facing up. The teacher then scans the class with their mobile device and the results are instantly tabulated and available to inform instruction.
As great as I feel this app to be, it is not without its limitations. First and most obviously, this app is restricted to multiple choice questions. Now you may be saying what's the point of using an app that is only for multiple choice when SBAC and Common Core will require deeper understanding and reasoning than simple fill in the blank. Well to paraphrase Stanley Rabinowitz from West Ed in regards to multiple choice in Common Core and SBAC, before you can ask students to apply knowledge you must ascertain that they have said knowledge, that is what multiple choice is good at. The other difficulty is building this as a routine and training the students to use the cards and learning the app yourself. This is something I would like to help with.
If you are interested in working with me to integrate this into your class or lessons please let me know and I can work with you, come into your class, and assist with the initial lesson.