Plickers, with a “P”

Last week I handed out a 7 question pre-test to my Algebra 1 Concepts & Skills students.  Traditionally this course has student abilities ranging from pseudo understanding linear algebra down to using fingers to do single digit addition.  Over the years, students are exposed to algebra at an earlier age than with pass graduating classes.  The range of abilities continues to spread, and my pre-test confirmed that this trend lives on.  However, this time I was able to utilize my new favorite formative assessment tool and reached my conclusion on the ability range much sooner than in past years.

Collecting and deciphering abilities was much more timely and user friendly using Plickers.  If you are unfamiliar with Plickers, head over to the site and check it out after this post.  You won’t be disappointed!  Students appreciated being able to see the bar graph responses of their classmates, and it allowed for me to adjust how much time we went over a particular question if there was no clear common outcome.  Students were given the opportunity to talk with classmates and adjust their answers.  Discussion over common mistakes were being brought up and pointed out by students without any prompting from me.  I LOVED it!

Once my class rosters settle down, I plan on creating a set of Plicker cards for each class on card stock so each student can “own” their own card.

Also, if you do try this, let a student try scanning the class using your device.  Great sense of ownership over the activity!

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Jitters

Well tomorrow is the start of a new trimester of teaching.  You would think after 9 years of teaching the ‘first days’ wouldn’t give me the butterflies, but it does.  Maybe it’s my fear of the unknown.  Maybe it’s not wanting to have change, after all I did get used to the antics of my freshman class.  But  always get this feeling knotted up in my guts the night before a new trimester…all 27 “night befores” I’ve had in my career…not to mention the years I was actually a student!

But by this time tomorrow, I will be reflecting on how exciting the change is.  How refreshing it is to see new ideas from new students.  How there is the hope that we can create another successful learning environment in the classroom.  

I guess as I sit here and type this, I really just need to learn how to replace fear with hope.  Just thinking about it now seems to be helping.  So if you have suggestions on how to “out with the bad, in with the good” feelings, please share.  🙂

 

Teresa 🙂