An Equitable, Low Tech, Multiple Choice Game

Back in high school I was in one of the classes that was assigned a teacher who was fresh out of college. It was their first-year teaching, and from this fact, they were excited to share many of the new ways they learned how to teach with is in the room. One of these ways that always stuck with me, and even came back around to me in my college years was that of the concept of Plickers. In short, Plickers are an equitable tool for classroom multiple choice questions. The concept is surprisingly simple, involving a simple QR code that can be read as a differing result depending on which of its four side’s it’s rotated to. Teachers first make a small presentation of questions and potential answers to share with the class on a projector or computer screen, then assign students to individual QR codes to be given out. Then, to collect answers, the teacher simply scans their phone across the room slowly, and each QR code submits its answer to the Plickers app through the phone. All the answers are automatically recorded, making it faster than using whiteboards, and with the answers only needing students to rotate their QR code, it saves on the cost of markers for each student. 

From how easy it is to set up, I’m surprised it’s not used more within modern classrooms.

My Experience

Plickers is something that while rare in schools, whenever I see them in practice, things always seem to go smoothly. Imagine having questions on a board, with a class of 25, each of them white board and marker in hand. Some are doodling, some are not paying attention, and for those that are trying, you can’t keep track of the right and wrong answers. Material costs on top of that from those students who like to fill the whole board with ink, this situation, while fun for students, could definitely be better for you as a teacher. That’s why I feel Plickers really helps. 

During my observations in public schools in Elizabeth NJ, I sat in on a meeting between all teachers of the same grade as we discussed more equitable solutions to creating lessons. Having done a report on Plickers before, and having seen their effectiveness back in high school, I offered up the Idea, and even got to see some of the other teachers put it into practice thereafter. It takes a good deal of pressure off teachers to guestimate how many answers a certain student got correct, saves on costs of materials, and can even be reused every year.

How to Set up Plickers for your Classroom

Step 1

Sign up on the App, and on the Web

I feel one of the only deterrents keeping teachers from using Plickers is that they may forget to sign up as they set up their class on the site. When signing up for Plickers, while there is an easy guide, you need to download and sign in on both the Plickers app, (available on Apple and Google Play) and sign up online on the Plickers website.

To make things easier, I put links to both below

  1. Sign up on the Plickers official Site here
  2. Download and Sign in to the Plickers App for Apple here.
  3. Download and Sign in to the Plickers App for Google Play here.

Step 2

Getting Set up

Plickers is a tool for both phone and computer, but we can only create a class, create questions, and start games by using our account on the computer. After an initial sign up, a lovely menu comes up that can help assist you in the next steps, but I’ll also mention what it says here for convenience.

  1. Create a class, and enter the first and last names of those within the class. Please note, the order you enter the names corresponds to the QR codes when you later print them out. If you mix them up, you may have answers for one student really be answers for a student using the wrong QR code.
  2. Create a question set! There are lots of useful tools for inserting images, customizing text, and a very simple system for writing questions, and filling in answers.

Step 3

Final Preparations

Once you have your class setup, and your game finished, you can do the final steps of preparation. These steps have to do with printing each QR code, and making sure you refrence the PDF and name list to know which code belongs to which student.

  1. Print out your Plickers QR codes here
  2. Cut out your Plickers QR codes and number them to match the numbers attached to each student’s name in the class list. This way, you can reuse them in future years from the number being written, and not the student’s name
  3. This next step is optional, but I would highly recommend laminating the Plickers QR codes. The reflections on the laminated paper don’t seem to impede the camera, and keep the QR codes in good condition for a long time. If available, this step is highly recommended.
  4. Run a practice game on the app that won’t be graded. This may require you to make an extra game that won’t be played in class just for testing purposes to see if everything works so far. This involves going to the Plickers site, going to the Library tab, selecting the arrow to the left of your game, and hitting the play now button. At this point, with each question, you can open the Plickers app on your phone, hit the circle camera button to check answers, and scan over the QR codes to see how student names and choices will show up.

Side A

Side B

Side C

Side D

Step 4

Playing the Game and Grading the Answers

At this point, with an understanding of how Plickers works, all that’s left to do is to teach with it, and look over student results. A good way to do this that allows students to get used to each side is to have a test question or two at the start of your first multiple choice question game. Showing students each side of the Plickers QR code, pointing out the small letters to differentiate each side, and allowing them to test rotating them as the camera scans the room should really help them get the hang of using it for however many other times you may choose to. 

It should also be stated to your class here on if and how you will grade student’s answers. This is an optional step, but could have students who would otherwise not take it seriously, start to strive for correct answers because their grade will be impacted. grading isn’t for every class however, as In my own experience, I’ve seen this tool as more of a way to understand where students are at in terms of mastery. Seeing the statistics on each question, and at the end of a given game gives solid percentages and graphs on questions students got correct and incorrect. It lets you know who is doing well, who is doing poorly, and shows the exact areas those students struggled with. This should help to hone in on what areas may require additional instruction, and what areas were taught well. 

The images below are the views of this process live from the phone while scanning the room, and the view of the computer screen at the end of the game. After this step, that’s pretty much all there is to it! If you have completed the steps thus far, you can now use this incredibly handy and equitable question game within your room as many times throughout the school year as you would like. I hope that by sharing all this with you, that you can improve your overall quality of life within the classroom, and improve in the various ways in which your students can be taught. Thank you for reading!