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Guest blog post - Pixi Maths

We recently started a new Spring cohort of our Challenge for eLearning CPD course with colleagues from the Corby area, including the author of Pixi Maths, Danielle Moosajee.
As a plenary activity for the first session, we used and demo'd Plickers - 'a simple tool that lets teachers collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices.' It's a great tool which we've blogged about before, and here are Danielle's thoughts on it after using it class post-training:

I left the first Challenge 4 eLearning session full of biscuits and inspired! In a way, it was a shame that the Easter break fell so shortly afterwards as I was keen to try out some of the things we’d been introduced to.

A couple of years ago, a colleague had shown me the Plickers app. Students each receive a QR code with 4 orientations (A, B, C and D) and they hold their cards up to be scanned by an iPad in answer to a multiple choice question. Previously, I had laminated these cards and used them to gauge a class’s understanding of a particular topic.





Since then, Plickers has been developed so that it aids analysis of answers too. By uploading your class list, you can allocate a specific QR code per student so that students cannot copy each other (the letters in the corners are tiny!) and so your tablet can easily identify each student’s answer. I’ve chosen to stick each of these QR codes on the back of students’ books so they’re less likely to get lost.

  

Creating questions and quizzes is very easy, although unfortunately there is no equation or symbol function which makes writing maths questions pretty difficult. It’s a real shame that we are so restricted by what we can enter as maths is set up very well for multiple choice questions! Images can be upload to questions, although not to answers. There is a voting system for new features, but these don’t seem to have been looked at for several years!





Once you’ve created a class and some questions, adding questions to the “queue” for each class is also pretty easy. The Plickers app automatically syncs your classes and your quizzes so they’re ready to use and scan.

This particular quiz was on area of triangles, parallelograms and trapeziums with my year 9s. I made sure last lesson that they all had their QR code stuck to their book so there was no excuse for a lack of participation.

Using Plickers in the lesson was fantastically easy – the webpage and the iPad sync almost instantly, and I had no problems with scanning the students’ QR codes as they answered each question. I suppose it probably goes without saying, but in order for progress to still be made, I ensured I went through each question after they answered it – so even if a student didn’t do well on one trapezium question, they should have a better understanding for the next one.

I was pleased with the summary that I could obtain after the quiz too. As well as an overall view of how each student answered for every question, I can look at an individual question. I carefully selected the ‘wrong’ answers so that I could establish any misconceptions. The example below showed me that not all students understood that this triangle’s area is half of the rectangle, so this is something I can address with the group next lesson.





I really enjoyed using Plickers and my students did too. The data I acquired from using it was far more useful than using mini-whiteboards, as it lasts. From an overall perspective, I would definitely recommend this app! From a maths perspective, however, it’s very limited – I couldn’t show ‘centimetres squared’, nor would I be able to use fractions or mathematical symbols. Let’s hope Plickers work swiftly on this feature so I can use it more in my classroom.


Our thanks to Danielle for the review. Plickers has got many classroom uses at both primary and secondary level and is also great for afl and vote casting - quick, simple and effective. Let us know if you'd like to include it in your next training session with us!

Be sure to check out Danielle's Pixi Maths blog at piximaths.co.uk especially if you are a Maths teacher!


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