Creating the perfect set of Plickers cards

As my organization rolls out G Suite for Education to our eleven sites across the state, I have been scheduling several professional development sessions over the next couple of months.  One tool that I will be sharing during these sessions is Plickers.  The Plickers app is an easy to use assessment tool perfect for classrooms and other settings with limited access to technology.  If you aren’t familiar with Plickers, please take a look at my post “Formative Assessment is the One Device Classroom”  Plickers is perfect for our specialists because oftentimes were are presenting in locations that have limited access to the internet.  Since presenters are at the mercy of the network admins as to what access they may be granted, it is imperative that presenters are prepared with effective tools even in the face of limited access.

In preparation for this rush of presentations, I decided to create a new set of Plickers cards to stash in my presentation bag.  Plickers provides a pdf document of the card set is a couple of sizes.  With the convenience of packing in mind, I went with the standard size for a set of 40 cards.

With visions of grandeur in my mind, I first tried printing the cards directly on card stock with my desktop laser printer.  The smearing that resulted made the set unusable!  So, I tried another approach.  I printed the pdf on plain paper using the “big” printer/copier that is shared in the office.  I then loaded the card stock in the bypass tray, made an adjustment for think paper and simply copied the pdf.  The results were perfect.

The set will print as two cards per page so, of course, some trimming was needed.  I knew that I wanted to end up with a set that was nice in appearance and that was as uniformly cut as possible.  Off to the paper trimmer!  Of course, a good trimmer with a measurement grid is essential.  Now I had to calculate the dimensions.

After a couple of dry runs here is the procedure I followed:

  1. Cut the paper in half vertically by placing the car stock in the trimmer lengthwise with the left edge at the 5 1/2 inch mark. This will give you a half sheet with one card.
  2. Place one of the resulting cards in the trimmer lengthwise, this time with the left edge at the 6 1/2 inch mark (removing 2 inches from one side of the card).
  3. Rotate the card so that the right edge you just created is now the left edge and place the edge at the 4 1/2 inch mark.  This will cut 2 inches off of the opposite edge.

The resulting card should look like this:

Next, I needed an easy way to carry the cards without worrying about creases and tears.  A quick look around the office and I located some leftover cardboard mailers, the kind once used to mail CDs.  The entire set of 40 cards fit nicely in the mailer and the cardboard is sturdy enough to protect the cards.

However, I really didn’t like the look.  I scrounged around and found some Avery 5165 Full Sheet printable labels. I opened up Microsoft Word and changed the layout to landscape.  I inserted a shape with the dimensions of 5.75″ tall and 7.25″ wide.  I added my name and organization as well as contact information in case I leave the card set somewhere.  Hopefully, a kind participant would shoot me a message, but in all honesty, if they did, I’d probably suggest they keep and use the set.  As a final touch, I added my Plickers Ambassador badge to the label.  
Here is the holder with the label applied:
As you can see, the printing on the mailer still shows through a bit.  Next time, I’ll first apply a blank label and then the printed label of it, but this will certainly do the trick.
While looking for the full page labels, I came across some 1″ x 4″ mailing labels.  I took a few minutes to create a quick label for the back of my cards.  I also took the time to add the card number and small letters to help the participants orient the card on the back.  This took several minutes, but I think it will pay off during sessions.  Here is how the back of the cards look now:
All told, this project took me about two hours, but that includes a couple of interruptions, a bit of searching for materials and the time consuming adding of the letters to the back of the cards.  Two hours invested gives me a ready-to-implement assessment strategy that is always available in my presentation bag.  Even if I intend to use something different but run into network issues, I can pull out my Plicker cards and immediately demonstrate a technology based strategy that will work in a pinch or everyday, especially in a one device classroom.

The benefits of technology certifications

I recently was successful in earning my Google Certified Teacher Level 2 certification.  This comes on the heels of completing the BrainPOP Certified Teacher online course. I, of course, took the time to add these certifications to my biography page and it got me thinking about the value of these certifications.  What do they really mean to me as a teacher and presenter of professional development? A trusted colleague often teases me about the number of certifications I hold and the dedication I display in seeking them out.  He doesn’t describe it as dedication, however.  He has more colorful language to describe it, but I’ll go with “dedication.”  I have explained that I am an outlier.  As the Educational Technology Specialist for a statewide program that serves a variety of schools and districts, I feel it benefits me to have a wide range of experience and exposure as it relates to technology integration.  Would a classroom teacher need such a variety? The likely answer is no.

However, they did agree on two points about certifications. First, if two candidates displayed equally impressive soft skills, then earned certifications could be a deciding factor because, and this was the second point, the earning of respected technology certifications did indicate the desire and dedication to go the extra mile to learn more and demonstrate their knowledge. I see this extra effort on the part of a teacher as incredibly important.

If I were looking to add staff to serve in instructional technology, certifications would not be the driving force, but could certainly “steer” my decision. (See what I did there?) I would never hire the prospective coach that held nine certifications without a long, thorough interview to evaluate the soft skills, but the earning of certifications, does, for me, demonstrate a teachers’ desire to expand and improve their practice.

 Teachers that are charged with, or simply find themselves in a position that they are often called upon to share their knowledge related to technology integration should strongly consider seeking the respected technology certifications for the tools they use frequently.  After all, no downsides have been mentioned and having them in your bag of tricks serve two purposes.  First, if the teacher approaches the certification process correctly, it will inherently improve their practice; it will help them teach better.  Second, it will likely open doors of opportunities for them- opportunities to share and present to others, for instance. If you are part of the technology leadership team for your school or district, you can easily identify those teachers that are effectively integrating various digital tools in the classroom.  Take a few minutes to determine if there is a certification path for teachers on that product. If so, take the time to share the information and encourage that teacher to pursue certification. The benefits to you are obvious- more qualified teachers that can be utilized to increase and improve technology integration. 

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