Monday, May 16, 2011

Poll Everywhere!

So, I'm one of the few teachers left in my district without a Smartboard or Promethean board.  I'm a techie at heart, so I have to admit, I've been kind of bummed out about the situation.  I tried to make myself feel better by listening to my colleagues complaints that they're not all they're cracked up to be.  Since the beginning of the school year somewhat, but really intensely over the last month and a half or so, I've been  diving headfirst into alternative ways to change up what I do in the classroom and make it more meaningful to my students, while broadening their knowledge of technology.  As foreign language teachers, we are really skill-based in what we teach and in what we expect the students to do:  they need to read, write, speak, and listen.  When I started looking at the ways I asked them to do that, and looked around at the tools that are available, the creative juices started to flow, and now I'm just trying to keep them from drowning me!  My latest discovery came from and it is  Polleverywhere is a web-based app that allows you to create open-ended or multiple choice polls that your students can answer using their cell phones.  I discovered this gem of a website via a link from a post on Edudemic   Clickers?  Who needs clickers????  Imagine the looks of delight in the eyes of my students when my first direction to them was (in French of course) take out your cell phones!  The excitement was palpable.  The motivation piece was clearly present and accounted for, as evidenced by my final multiple choice poll question asking for their opinion on the activity -- all but one student expressed a favorable opinion (and that student later said he hadn't understood the choices).  Now critics of technology will certainly point out that fun does not an objective accomplish, so I go back to my goals for that day's class.  We have been recycling food vocabulary, and had just introduced expressions of quantity (bag, box, can, bottle, pound, litre, etc.)  Most of my questions were open-ended and consisted of questions like "What can be purchased in a jar?" The answers were varied, students could immediately see what their classmates had posted, and evaluate the correctness of the responses for themselves.  This particular polling app is anonymous, which has good and bad points.  On the positive, there is no issue of a student being unwilling to "put him/herself out there" if they are unsure of an answer, because when I point out errors, no one knows whose answer I am correcting.  On the negative, we do deal with teenagers, and there were some mildly inappropriate posts, but once I reexplained that the alternative was pen and paper, those disappeared.  For this trial run, I used my whole 40 class period -- I had prepared more than enough questions.  Students were engaged during the entire class, however, my ideas for future implementation run more toward quick bellringer activities that can be answered upon students entering the room, and discussed as class begins. 

Check it out!  Let me know what you think!

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