First days of school: Mindset discussion/survey with Plickers

I didn’t use Plickers much last school year because I don’t ask a lot of multiple choice type questions in my classes. Most are more open ended to expose depths of student understanding. This school year, I found a way to use Plickers to facilitate group discussions and I am so excited to use them more this year!

While I am effective at supporting small groups working in my classes, I am not always the best at facilitating whole class discussions. I knew I wanted to hear students thoughts and dispel myths on how to learn math early in the school year. I have started this discussion in past years using Bowman Dickson’s survey found here.

Then I saw Julie Reulbach’s recent post on her plans for the first days of school. She mentions using Plickers as a brief survey.

I discovered that when setting up Plickers, you do not have to select a “correct” answer. Instead I decided it would be insightful to make the multiple choice options into a Likert scale. Capture

This way after each question I could project the response graph. It was perfect to be able to just show students their peers ideas and allow discussions to happen with little facilitation from me!

For example, when I projected this question, and then the response graph, a student said,


“How can you agree with this? We can always learn more and improve.”

Then students who agreed chimed in citing how their parents can’t do math, so they can’t do math.

To which the students who disagreed argued that you can change what you understand through learning and effort…

I let it continue occasionally asking probing questions. It was interesting to see how dispersed student responses were, and great to have this data to look at later.

I plan to complete this survey again later in the year to see if students move more towards a growth mindset with respect to learning math through the school year.

Another thought I had through this process was how Plickers could be used to facilitate Talking Point discussions too.

8 thoughts on “First days of school: Mindset discussion/survey with Plickers

  1. Thank you for posting! I clicked on your blog, which lead me to Julie, to bowman, to math-hombre, to Meg and to Pam. I love how the mtbos is a web of awesome teachers.
    I need to explain Make it Stick and SBG next week to kids and then soon after to parents. All of this will come in handy. 🙂

  2. I love how you’re starting the school year getting your students to reflect on their own mindset about learning math, hopefully with the result of improving their self-efficacy. I especially liked how Plickers was used and all the great classroom discussion that the survey produced. What a great way to assess students’ mathematical disposition and start developing the necessary mindset to succeed in math! I’m curious as to how results from this same survey will be different by the end of the year.

  3. This is really awesome and a great way to get a conversation going. I am sure you made students rethink their beliefs on this matter. Thanks for sharing.

  4. This has been really helpful for me to be able to give my colleagues some really useful ways to use Plickers not just as a correct / incorrect answer tool! Thank you!

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