Popsicle sticks have been a popular choice for teachers to randomly draw names of students. However, keeping classes organized can be difficult. Standing in front of 30 students is not the time for a game of pick up sticks.
Stick Pick is an app by Buzz Garwood and available for both the iPhone and iPad. It costs $2.99 and can hold as many electronic Popsicle sticks as you want; all organized by class.
Stick Pick will keep used and unused names separate so keeping track of who has already had a chance to speak won’t be an issue. When you get to the end of the tin, you can just simply reset. Of course, you can reset the tin at any time to start over.
You can operate Stick Pick in just “Stick Only” mode where names are being drawn, or you can operate in one of several modes with stem questions being prompted from either Bloom’s Taxonomy, Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, or ESL. You can customize a different mode for each student as well, to apply differentiated learning strategies to your classroom.
Additionally, you can utilize a few feedback buttons and gather statistical data on your discussion. In other words, you can draw a name and click “assess” and mark if the student answered the question correctly or incorrectly. Then, at the end of the discussion, you can go look through statistical data.
While the app is available for both iPhone and iPad, it does not appear to sync between the two devices. This can be rather difficult if you have both devices that you use interchangeably in the classroom. You’d have to set up the sticks on each device separately and the feedback data will not sync.
I have used Stick Pick in the classroom before to actually create more classroom interaction. I have downloaded the app to my iPhone and then directly hooked up the phone to the projector. I picked the first student and no matter if he or she answered correctly or not, that student still had to get up out of his or her seat to come up to the front of the classroom and hit the button to pick the next student. There is a bit of audio noise of a tin can shaking and then all students see whose name was drawn. After a few minutes it became more game-like to them. They were more enthusiastic with answering and interested to see whose name would come up next. Hint: Everyone’s name came up! I used this to during an otherwise boring lesson on comma usage.
I have not hooked up the app on an iPad to a SmartBoard to see if the students could just tap the Smartboard and have the next stick picked, but I would definitely be interested in trying it!