Plagnets: The Swiss Army Knife of Assessment Tools

  • High School
Derek Severson

Plagnets. These are the ‘most efficient assessment tool’ a teacher can use.  I made this same comment about Plickers in my April blog post, Instant Feedback, Via Instant Assessment.

Just like the typical bandwagon fan who jumps from team to team, I have quickly changed my loyalty and now believe Plagnets are the ‘most efficient assessment tool’ a teacher can use. As you read on, it is my goal to convince you to jump on this bandwagon with me and incorporate Plagnets into your classroom.

I consider Plagnets to be the “Swiss Army Knife of Assessment Tools” because of the countless features and uses they have.

To quickly review...Plickers are a simple tool that lets teachers collect real-time formative assessment data from their students without the need for student devices.  Each student is given a card with a unique visual code. The code has 4 sides, each lettered A, B, C, and D. The student holds the card so that the letter they choose to answer the question with is at the top of their card.

Plagnets are simply a magnetic version of Plickers (Plicker + Magnet = Plagnet) you can customize to your liking.

Plickers allow teachers to instantly accrue feedback and data from their students.

I had no idea what Plagnets were until two months ago when I was asked to present a session on Plickers or Plagnets to my Physical Education colleagues at an upcoming state workshop in February. After agreeing to present, I began doing my homework on Plagnets preparing for this presentation. From my research, I found two Physical Education teachers, Michael Ginicola and Joey Feith, who many believe came up with the idea of Plagnets. I want to credit these two for inspiring me to make my own version. Michael facilitated an excellent 45-minute Plagnet webinar which served to be a great tutorial for me. After watching this, I soon began building my own Plagnet prototype using ideas from Mike and Joey, and adding a few of my own.

My Initial Plagnet Prototype.  Much smaller than a Plicker card, but much more powerful with its use!

I was very happy with my first prototype (seen above).  I soon piloted my Plagnet prototype with Health and Physical Education teachers in my district and around Washington State. This was a valuable experience. I was able to get feedback from these teachers and gain new ideas. One elementary teacher I showed my prototype to inspired me to make an addition to my version. In conversation about these Plagnets, she revealed her Kindergarteners would never be able to use them because they cannot read.

This feedback gave me the idea to add one of my favorite feautures…Emojis! Yes, Emojis! I added these to serve as a Mood Meter for students. Using this feature, students can discreetly disclose how they feel simply by picking the Emoji that best matches their current temperament. Any student can use this feature of the Plagnet.

 I visualize teachers using this feature as students walk into your classroom. Simply ask them how their day is going. They can then indicate whether they are happy, sad, angry, or sick. Sometimes students won’t verbally disclose how they’re feeling to their teacher. This is a great way to assess that social-emotional level of your classroom. In a matter of seconds you can instantly know the emotion of your students.

Here is my current version of Plagnets (seen below).  If you currently use Plickers, test this out.  Simply open the Plicker app, pull up a question, and scan the image below.  Your answer should be "D" seeing that is the letter on top.  Notice the blue numbered heart on the Plicker image.  I discovered that images could be added onto the Plicker image without effecting the camera's ability to read an answer.

My current Plagnet prototype

Plagnet Tutorial

Plagnet Tutorial

Uses of Plagnets

Entry task question: Post a question for your students to answer to start your lesson. This information will guide your instruction.

Emoji Mood Meter: Mentioned above, use Plagnets to measure the emotions of your students. Sometimes it’s difficult to pick up those signals from a student that’s upset. Some students are masters at masking their emotions. Using this feature will allow the teacher to discover the emotions of their students and improve their day.

Standards-Based Assessment: On the perimeter of these Plagnets is a Standards-Based rubric. Students can self-assess their performance in the classroom and indicate their learning level.

Survey: Get feedback from your students on their interests. What did you like about this lesson? What type of activities would you like to see? How many hours of sleep did you get last night?

Exit Slip: In a matter of seconds, all of your students can indicate their understanding of the lesson you just taught. I recommend having a question and answer bank.

Examples of Plagnet Use in the Classroom

Example of Learning Roadmap Plagnet
Example #2 of Plagnet in Classroom
Example #3 of Plagnet in Classroom


I compare my discovery of Plagnets to the experience of buying a new car. The additional bells and whistles with your upgrade make driving your car that much more enjoyable. If you have never used Plickers, I recommend starting with Plickers. If you have been using Plickers, it’s time to make that upgrade.

If you plan to incorporate Plickers, please refer to my April blog post to help you get started.

If you plan to incorporate Plagnets, use this information below as a guide to help you create your own set for your classroom.

Step 1: Create a template – I took a screen shot of each Plicker image to create my template on PowerPoint.

Step 2: Save your work! You’ll never know when you might need it again. Plus, once your colleagues see what you’ve made, they’re going to come knocking on your door.

Step 3: Print your templates – I printed mine on Avery Round Label stickers. This saved me the hassle of cutting out all my images.

Step 4: Put it all together – I found clear, plastic coin cases on Amazon to protect my Plagnet image. I then added a magnet (also found on Amazon) on the back and voila!

Step 5: Test it out – Check out all the bells and whistles and get accustom to the features. This will only help you. Try it out with a couple of your colleagues. If you choose to use them with your class, start with something simple. Once your students get the hang of it, incorporate more of the Plagnet features.

I will be presenting my Plagnet prototype in February. I am still continuing my research and still looking to add additional features. From all of its uses, I truly believe Plagnets are the Swiss Army Knife of Assessment Tools.

If you currently use Plickers or Plagnets, what strategies have you found to be effective?

  • assessment
  • Teacher Tools
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The opinions expressed by the CORElaborate Bloggers, guest bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD), Ready Washington or any employee thereof. PSESD is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Washington State Teacher Leader or Guest Bloggers.