At my school we are lucky to have amazing students. They are polite, courteous and most are very hard working. Students at Tenby are kind, respectful and eager to learn. On my first day as Deputy Head (Teaching and Learning) I informed or reminded all our staff of this. Teachers here can take risks here and if it all goes wrong it is not the end of the world! The students love to try something new. They don’t moan when you ask them to get out their seats to do something creative, they don’t run riot if the technology fails you for a few minutes and if a new strategy doesn’t quite work they’ll make suggestions of how it might do! Great teachers take risks.

So, at the start of the week I emailed staff to suggest they took a risk with their teaching this week or next if they’d planned all their lessons already (that would be a miracle for me!) I made a few suggestions and said I would like to hear about how it went. I then had invites to watch these risks taking place. Brilliant. Staff not only trying something new but willing to have me on hand to share the moment. This made me feel really positive about the teaching and learning happening at school in our current climate.

Today I did a double whammy. My colleague filmed the first part of my geography lesson rocks with my year 9 class and I used a new app called Plickers for a new strategy of formative assessment. A basic guide of how to use Plickers:

1) Register

2) Enter in your student names for a class. They are nominated with a unique number.

Identify each student with a unique number

3) Print out the QR codes already available on the website and hand out to each of them (they can keep or you can reuse for each class).

4) Prior to the lesson create your questions and organise neatly in a folder!

5) In the lesson display your question on the projector; students hold their QR code one of four ways to represent their answer.

6) You then scan the class with your phone and within seconds the LiveView displays each students results!

Plickers LiveView on rocks!
Plickers LiveView on rocks!

As a novice I easily navigated my way from home screen, to my folder of questions and synced it with my iPhone for results. There was a buzz of excitement about trying something new from my students as it was new to them too. They were all eager to see their name appear and whether they had got the answer correct.

The advantages:

  • Students do not need a device.
  • You can display names or be more discreet and only display a graph of answers (you know who is who).
  • Bespoke questions created quickly to test the learning in your lesson.
  • Instant feedback confirms progress made or that an adaptation to your lesson is needed.
  • You get a report for each question and a breakdown of how the class and each student’s results.
  • Creative, engaging and easy to use strategy for formative assessment.
  • It’s free!

A small risk to trust technology paid off. Worth spending the short time discovering as the students certainly enjoyed their first experience. It is certainly a tool I will look at developing further.

My next task will be to watch (behind my hands!) the video but I’ll save that for another day!