Many of you might be using polling in your class in some form or another, without even knowing you are doing it. We often try to gauge if our class understood what we just taught or what they read or listened to. You might look for nods or even request a show of hands. But, I at least, have a hard time telling if I have gotten the whole picture. Here is where student response systems or clickers could come in handy, especially in large classrooms. They are, however, very expensive and an unrealistic option for many settings in which we teach. But if you can, it might not be a bad idea to use such a system so that you can get truly honest and accurate assessments from your students.
There are free and simple-to-use options available that you may be familiar with such as Survey Monkey and PollDaddy. If you are using a projector, the results appear almost instantly on the website for everyone to see. Here is a list of polls. For the classroom, my personal favorite is Poll Everywhere. Here is why: Once you have created your poll on PollEverywhere.com, you can ask students to use their cellphones to text their answers. The results appear almost instantly on the website for everyone to see (if you are using a projector to view the website). Even without a projector, you will have a better sense of their opinions or knowledge on a topic. So let’s examine some ways to integrate these surveys and polls into your class.
Image courtesy of Lisa Nielsen. See her blog for more on Poll Everywhere.
Some options before a lesson:
- Use polling to engage students by asking their opinion about something like a current event or something they read. Add in vocabulary or other content you have been covering in class.
- Survey them on their prior knowledge about a topic.
- Use the technology as a review and quiz them on what they have read or content already covered.
During a lesson:
- Adapt your pre-writing or reading activity to have students share their ideas. (For students to share open responses, try a wiffiti board at http://wiffiti.locamoda.com/)
- During a lesson or reading, use polls as a comprehension or a knowledge check.
- Use it as a wrap up or closing activity. (Was this reading too hard, too easy or just right? Did you learn something new? Did you like the activity? After this lesson will you….)
- Do a brief informal assessment of students’ knowledge to see if more review is needed.
Share any comments, your experience using this activity or any suggested variations you have (particularly using other technologies).