This week’s focus was on assessment technologies. In the past, assessment used to be focused entirely on efficiency, and not on the learner. The evolution to multiple choice, computerized testing, and standardized testing reflects this ideology of testing everybody in the same way through efficient means. However, this has been changing – particularly when it comes to formative assessment – especially with the evolution of edtech tools and apps that are easily accessible for the classroom.
I have tried to keep an open-mind about these technologies, and I have used several in the past, including (but not limited to) Plickers, ClassDojo, Google Classroom, Google Docs, Mentimeter, PowerSchool/Gradebook, and Kahoot. All of these technologies have advantages and disadvantages, and contexts in which they are best suited for the classroom. Both Heidi and Roxanne have written great blog posts this week describing how they many of these tools in their classrooms, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of these tools.
As can be seen in my previous posts, I am a huge Google Classroom and Google Docs fan. I feel as though I could write blog post after blog post about these tools and how my teaching has evolved since beginning to them use them a little over a year ago. However, the challenge this week was to experience a new assessment tool that I have yet to use in the classroom. After contemplating trying TodaysMeet – and then shying away from it because I have not fully set up my parameters for digital citizenship in my classroom, which is a suggestion prior to using this tool – I decided to I would try PollEverywhere for the first time.
Given the fact that it was a short week at school, I was unable to actually use PollEverywhere in my classroom this past week. However, I plan to use this tool in the near future with my classes to make my lessons more engaging and to receive feedback more efficiently and effectively. These are the reasons why I wanted to explore this tool in my classroom. Furthermore, I have seen other teachers use it in their classrooms, and I have always wanted to try it. But as we all know, time flies by and unless we actually sit down and purposely push ourselves to try something new, it is easy to fall into a rut with our ‘regular’ classroom planning. That is why I am grateful for this class and my colleagues who push me to try new and innovative things in my classroom simply by doing so themselves!
Another reason I wanted to try this tool was because it can be added in to Google slides presentations – for free! Not only can I use it with something that I already use consistently, but it can enhance what I am already doing in my classroom and engage my students further in their learning. The set-up for my account was quite simple, and making the polls/surveys is also quite easy. In minutes you can have your first poll set-up, ready to teach. After a few tries – and after I re-watched the pictures detailing exactly how you add it into your Google slide presentation after adding the chrome extension to your web browser – I was able to incorporate my first PollEverywhere into my next unit in my Social Studies 30 class.
Woot woot! Now I can’t wait to see how it works with my students in the classroom. Although I have yet to do so with my students, I can anticipate some difficulties with the initial set-up and signing on to answer the question. I know that when we did it this week in class – although fantastic – it didn’t seem as easy to sign on as Kahoot or Mentimeter for students. So this may be a challenge in the classroom. Just like Mentimeter, I worry about using the open-ended questions with some of my classes – especially after seeing what some of my students think is appropriate as a nickname for Kahoot. That being said, I can see myself using the open-ended questions with some of my current classrooms, and eventually, with all my classrooms, after we elaborate further on digital citizenship and the footprint they are leaving on the digital world. If I limit myself to only using the multiple choice poll or other questions that are not open-ended, I do feel as though the assessment is limited as well in what I can determine my students are getting. Therefore, I find PollEverywhere to function better as a diagnostic or formative assessment tool – as a hook at the start of the class, a recap at the end, or even as an exit slip for further thoughts and ideas. I do not think I would incorporate it in my classes as a summative assessment.
I do think this tool will enhance engagement and participation in my classroom. I think we all have students who dominate the classroom discussions when no technology is involved – it is rare when every student in the class will have a voice in every discussion and be able to participate. With tools like PollEverywhere, every student gets to partake and share their opinions, and afterwards it can initiate a classroom discussion where students can elaborate on what they shared in the poll.
Therefore, as a summary, I think the pros of PollEverywhere include:
- Easy to set-up
- Easy to incorporate into Google slides
- Enhanced classroom engagement
- Enhanced classroom participation
- Giving a voice to students who would not share otherwise
- Quick and efficient way to receive feedback on what students know or have learned
- A quick and easy hook to get students interested in the content of the lesson
- A paperless recap or exit slip summarizing what students have learned thus far
However, there are some cons as well, including:
- Limited question types with certain groups of students
- All students need some form of technology to participate (computer or phone)
- Not as easy to use as Mentimeter or Kahoot
- Functions mainly as a diagnostic or formative assessment
In the end, it would seem the advantages of this tool definitely outweigh the disadvantages. What do you think? Have you ever used PollEverywhere in your classroom? Under what circumstances did it succeed or not succeed? What would you change about the way you used it previously?
Comments and questions are always appreciated! Until next time!