The past couple of weeks, I have been reading over Make Learning Magical by Tisha Richmond and also looking over some notes I had taken from Let Them Speak by Rick Jetter and Rebecca Coda. One of the biggest pieces that have stood out to me the last few days is: “Create a Memorable Experience” and “Listen to what your students say.” My big project this year in Building the Pixel Classroom is really focusing on all the letters: Passion, Innovation, X-factor, Enthusiasm and Listening. I was going through my notes when I came across my old friend, Plickers. Plickers had a major update in the last few weeks, so much that two of my co-workers decided to dust off their own laminated Plickers cards and use them in class. However, they didn’t really go over all the updates, and of course struggled with teaching high school students in using them again. It was then I had an idea to use Plickers back in my classroom.
A while ago I had talked to Joey Feith on Voxer and he had talked about using Plickers on Magnets for assessment for his PE classes. Fellow PE teacher, Mike Ginicola took them a step farther by reducing the Plickers card images until they were small enough to be placed on a magnet. By having these mini-Plickers (Plagnets) assessment magnets, a teacher can simply scan the whiteboard at the end of a lesson to quickly log where each student’s magnet was placed at the end of a lesson. I loved this idea, so I used Mike’s template and created a set for my Business Basics class. I set the magnets up on our Pineapple Board after we have finished up a section of our unit.
They find their number and then place it according to the color code. In Joey’s exact words: “I try to get my students to understand that it is ok to not be perfect at something right off the bat, that learning is a journey that is unique to each person’s experience and ability. Because of that, the codes are not set up from worst grade to best grade (i.e. “Not Yet” is a D, “Getting There” is a C, “Got It” is a B, and “Wow” is an A). Instead, they are set up as a simple progression, just like the kids’ learning would be. The letters’ order (ABCD) corresponds to the learning journey (“Not Yet” to “Getting There” to “Got It” to “Wow”). I know that doesn’t make sense to everybody, but it makes sense to my students!”
Several of my freshman used Plickers when they were in 7th grade, so this set up was familiar yet, different than they remember. However, they responded very positive to the Plagnets and as a result, I had several students say: “They were Getting There” on the wrap up of our Unit. It was such great feedback, leading me to know what I need to focus more as we wrap up our Unit next week. They also asked if they would be doing the classic cards later on: “I said next Monday.” Plus, I said when we start Unit 2 we will bring in Plicker Dice. They had this: “What are you planning, Mr. Read?”
So, what am I planning? I created Plicker Dice at the height of my App Dice Craze in 2015. I took the codes on Plicker cards to a dice template and made sure the dice are numbers 1-6, another 7-12 and so forth. I then put students in groups of six. They then have to roll the die and the number that comes up on top will be the answer leader for the group. The teacher then asks the questions and the selected answer leader will work with the group to get the right answer and then hold it up. The reason I did this set up is that Plickers of course randomly assigns students numbers in the Class List. Most of these students don’t directly work with each other. I designed this to be a great way to build rapport and team work with each other. Students who aren’t always the fastest to answer tend to be very quiet in the classroom.
When I first used Plicker Dice in 2015, most of the elementary classes I worked at CLS didn’t work well in groups. They usually worked with the same peers they always work with. While my co-workers encouraged and even assigned their students in different groups, it fell into the usual: “This person does most of the work, or answers all the questions.” However, these students loved using Plickers when I worked Genius Hour or STEM Enrichment with them. I decided to create the different Plicker Dice and even set up random numbers and of course different Plicker answer sets. This was a smash hit with my students at the time and they were always asking what die they would get next. However, in the fall of 2015 as many of you know, budget cuts lead to me leaving CLS after over 3 years as their Technology Facilitator. When I went to Jackson Charter School a few weeks later, I quietly brought back my App Dice, but in 2017, after another set of budget cuts, I never got a chance to bring Plickers back or my Plickers Dice.
Now, after three years, I am happy to say they are making a return in two of my classes. My Marketing class recently played their first set of Plickers this week and what is so great, especially as many of my students (sophomore – seniors) remember using Plickers in Middle School. It was a trip down memory road for them, but in a new way. Adding the Plickers Dice to the mix in Tisha’s words: “Everyone is completely immersed as they are collaborating and communicating on how to win the game.” I wouldn’t have even looked through my old files if several of my students wouldn’t have expressed how how they use to play Plickers in middle school and enjoyed them.
It’s like bringing out an old tool, cleaning it off and use it build something new, but making it a Magical Experience at the same time. If you are interested in my Plickers Dice go ahead and click on the link and make a copy.