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Using Plickers in the Chinese classrooms


Pengyou
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There is a website with a system to do formative assessment - can also be used for summative assessment as well.  The system is called Plickers. (Plickers.com)  Do you use this in your classrooms in China?  How do you manage the internet portion of it? 

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China has the internet 😉

 

The website works but haven’t tried the app. Also, I vaguely remember hearing about this but never used it. 

 

Main issue would be .. do students need phones and tablets to use it? Many schools don’t allow phones and many kids don’t have tablets. 

 

My school is international but there’s a big push (by Chinese educational authorities) to reduce screen time. If we want to use an APP we have to show why it’s so important. As there are MANY formative assessments I’m not sure we’d use this. 

 

Also, it looks like students have to read the question themselves. Might be better for middle/high school. I have some students whose reading level wouldn’t be high enough. Most of my students are ELL’s. 

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Yes, but the strength of the signal in the classrooms on my phone is a bit weak.  I teach in a public school and there is no wifi in the classrooms - as far as I know.  I like this app because it does not require the students to have a device.  Each student has a printed card with an er-wei-ma on it.  The card has a number that is linked to the students name.  The student will answer a question by turning the card in a certain direction, and then I scan all of the students holding the cards with my phone.  I will do a practice run in a few days, during break.  The online app has the questions - the interface is very similar to powerpoint and can include English, Chinese, photos, audio and even video, though internet speed might be an issue with multimedia.

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Please report back with your findings! 

 

I've heard a bit about Plickers, but never used it myself, or seen it used.  As with most formative assessment, the ultimate usefulness of the technique is in whether or not it can tell you why the pupils are getting something wrong, and how easily that issue can then be addressed.  My worry would be that, just like a thumbs-up/thumbs-down or a traffic lights technique, Plickers won't be able to give you such information.  Let's say you pose the question and half the pupils get it right and half get it wrong.  What then?  You still don't know why they've got it wrong, so you'll have to do some more formative assessment to find that out.  If I was going to go to the trouble of giving the pupils printed cards and scan the class with my phone, I might as well just give them mini-whiteboards and then at least I'll have an insight into what any problems might be.

 

But I have a naturally sceptical view on most formative feedback, so I genuinely would be interested in finding out how it goes.

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Thanks!  Good points...but formative assessment is most useful when you do it in incremental steps, i.e. have a mini discussion/lecture on one topic and then do some formative assessment on that point.  The questions you use in the formative assessment should be varied, so that you get a 3d view of the situation, i.e. not just "what is 3+4". 

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Then what kind of question do you propose? I agree with you, this is a major problem with formative assessment, and while I think you’re right to say that checking for understanding needs to be done in incremental steps, you need to be careful you’re not probing performance rather than learning.  It turns out that people are very good at guessing what the right answer should be based on verbal/physical cues from the teacher and the way questions are posed.  My worry with Plickers is that everyone will just hold it up the same way the pupil at the top of the class holds it up.

 

This is is why something like mini-whiteboards, or just traditional marking of pupil work is usually the most effective method for genuine and useful insight into pupil understanding.

 

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for Plickers, just that this place might not be formative assessment.  I’d be more likely to look at its use for retrieval practice at the start of a lesson.  This will also tell you quickly what everyone has forgotten since last lesson (as opposed to what they have not understood).

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11 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

I have a naturally sceptical view on most formative feedback


Care to elaborate?  Do you really mean  "most formative feedback", or more like "on-line testing tools"?

 

Thanks

 

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16 hours ago, mungouk said:

Care to elaborate?  Do you really mean  "most formative feedback", or more like "on-line testing tools"?

 

I wouldn't class Plickers as an "online testing tool".  The questions are set in class and the data analysed and used real-time, so it is still technically formative assessment/feedback in the originally intended meaning of the term.  An "online testing tool" would be something more like Quizlet that a pupil can use independently and doesn't require the teacher to respond real-time to errors.

 

As for my scepticism of "most formative feedback", I should first clarify:  While I am sceptical of most formative assessment, my bigger issue is that things which people like to call formative assessment, are actually not that at all.  I wrote a paper on this, and the relevant part is included below (hope it's readable):

 

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image.png.be59966126a1e2902555c16d2efc806c.png

 

In terms of this framework, I'd say that Plickers was reasonably objective, as long as you could prevent copying, but fairly limited in resolution as it doesn't really tell you anything about why pupils might be getting something wrong.  There are, of course, other factors like time and cost that should be considered as well.

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Thanks!  The nice thing about plickers is that all of the codes on the papers look different.  One student cannot look at another student's card and know which way s/he is holding it.  It is the most anonymous of all of the systems I have seen.  Even with small white boards...when students are writing, calculating, etc other students can look at what they are doing.  I am trying to get the knack of scanning the cards down now.

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Looking at the blurb for the iOS app, it seems it was originally conceived as a tool for doing polls rather than assessment, which seems much more appropriate.

 

Quote

Plickers lets you poll your class for free, without the need for student devices. Just give each student a card (a "paper clicker"), and use your iPhone/iPad to scan them to do instant checks-for-understanding, exit tickets, and impromptu polls.

 

(I have no idea what an "exit ticket" is.)

 

Like "our studio audience said...".  In this setting, with students debating certain positions I can see the value, whereas using it for multiple-choice tests seems a bit more like a gimmick.

 

Would you really want to make MCQs time-constrained per question?  And is it really impossible for students to copy each other?  How does an individual student know what their own answer is if it's not written on the card?

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The front of the card has a qr code.  On the rear of the card, there are the four letters "a", "b", "c", "d" in very small letters - about 10 point.  Each letter is on the edge of one of the sides, so if you hold the card a certain way, the "a" will be at the top, if you rotate it 90 degrees the "b" will be at the top, etc.  Students choose the answer they want (multiple choice) by holding the cards up and rotating them so that the correct letter on the back of the card is at the top of the card.  If students hold the card directly in front of them, it is virtually impossible for others to see (at least without being really, really, really obvious).

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15 hours ago, mungouk said:

I have no idea what an "exit ticket" is.

 

This is a task a pupil must complete before they are permitted to leave the classroom.  So it might be something like, "Write the following sentence in English and show it to me on the way out." Then, if they've got it wrong, you stop them on their way out and make them do it again.  This kind of thing is quite popular, although it is slightly frowned upon by some for being gimmicky and inefficient.

 

15 hours ago, mungouk said:

Would you really want to make MCQs time-constrained per question?

 

The point is that it is formative assessment.  This isn't about them doing some number of questions in a certain amount of time.  Instead, it's about asking targeted questions which will reveal misconceptions for the teacher to address.  Therefore, you're supposed to do it question by question so that you can immediately address the misconception revealed by the pupils' answers.

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