By Rebecca Kerr
It’s fun to work with the eager, outgoing students. Holding the attention of bored or disinterested students is a bigger challenge. So is the ongoing, tug-of-war effort to get quiet students to contribute in class.
Conversation has the power to engage anyone, even a restless group of students, but it’s not always easy to have a productive conversation in the classroom setting.
Real-time polling now allows you to transform one-way lectures into two-way conversations, instantly. In the time it would take one student to raise a hand and respond, live polling allows you to hear from every student in class, and then tailor instruction to their needs.
Project responses up on a screen in front of class, and this low-pressure way of getting everyone to contribute also makes students feel empowered. If you want to engage every student in your class, try these five online polls.
1. Instant Formative Assessment
Adjust lessons in the moment, based on understanding, interest, or knowledge retention, with live polling.
Plan a poll for halfway through the lesson to gauge understanding. You can do this formative assessment-style poll as often as every 15 minutes to keep instruction in line with students’ needs at all times.
Use a simple multiple-choice poll to see if students are keeping up with the material, or use an open-ended poll to allow questions and free-form responses. Because results show on the screen instantly, you can make quick adjustments to your lesson plan, fill the gaps in understanding and move on.
More: 10 Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom
2. Make a Prediction
When you allow students to predict what happens next, in a text or a lesson, you get instant buy-in, and a big curiosity boost. Fun prediction poll ideas include:
- How will the main character react to this problem?
- What will happen when oxygen is introduced to the compound?
- What number will come next in this series?
Students get a sense of validation when they see their predictions appear on-screen along with everyone else’s. And because there’s no need to raise a hand or speak out loud, even the quietest students can participate comfortably and feel proud when they see they answered correctly.
3. Sensitive Discussions
It’s not easy to get a group of students to open up about topics like bullying, sexuality, family, dating, substance abuse, etc. It can be just as tough to convince them to speak up when they don’t understand something.
In these instances, use an anonymous, open-response poll. You can embed it in an iBook and discuss the responses in class or use this poll live in class, and keep an eye on the moderation tools to filter out unproductive comments.
This type of polling helps facilitate a powerful moment for your students; often they see other answers on the screen and realize, “Oh, I’m not the only one who feels this way.”
4. Six-Word Thesis/Memoir/Summary
Encourage students to distill a complex topic into six well-chosen words to show their mastery of a subject. This is especially beneficial for concepts taught in history, literature, government and social sciences.
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