Tools for the Interactive Classroom: Fun, Functional, or Both?

Educational Technology class at MHC just introduced me to a wealth of resources that can be adapted and modified to meet a variety of learning outcomes and some just happen to be plain old fun too. I am a little embarrassed as to how quickly I reverted back to my 12 year old self during a game of kahoot.

Going forward as an educator I hope to hone my skills on these tools to create meaningful learning experiences that will benefit the future digital citizens in my class. I have briefly detailed my experiences using a few educational tools with regard to functionality and applicability below.  

Enjoy and please comment with your own experiences, or thoughts on this subject.

Flexibility and Variety

  1. I would like to start with Padlet, as it is a great tool, a great FREE tool, that allows a class to compile a great amount of information in one place with ease. It was quick and easy to sign up, and the site is well organized and easy to navigate. The settings are easy to access and to change to reflect a desired outcome. Padlet allowed me to ask a question and have the students find information that they thought was most appropriate to answer the question. The students can include pictures or links that they think are relevant, this give the students a chance to individually demonstrate their learning. As a pre-service teacher it is difficult to fully comprehend how these tools might actually be implemented in a classroom, but I recently read about an idea on education world that I think would be great and that is Padlet’s ability to be accessed anywhere, and anonymously if the settings are manipulated. For example the students could post questions that could be the foundation for what we cover in a unit. I could see Padlet as a great tool for school clubs as well, for example book, garden, and Lego clubs to name but a few. Another perk is that if a student misses a day that is heavy with discussion Padlet would be a great way to get up to speed. There are no options for multiple choice or games, however Padlet is very diverse and usable as is.                                                                                                                                               download-4
  2. Socrative is something I had never heard of until Ed Tech class and, what a tool it is. The feedback from Socrative is amazing and can be used to provide feedback to students as well as compile information to adjust pace or content of a unit. Socrative offers good variety of mediums to present information.The flexibility is fair for the types of questions and the ways in which you can present the questions of games, however you cannot as of yet add video or audio to your questions.  The limit of students is large, up to 50 for the free version, and 150 for the pro. My favourite part of Socrative is the “exit ticket” feature which can be a quick formative check up to see how students as responding to the information that is being discussed in classed. The settings also add another level of individualization as you can set the quizzes to “teacher paced” or “student paced”. Socrative  also has this helpful online PDF that walks a user through the ins and outs of the site.                                                       download-3
  3. Polleverywhere is great application that can show users real time results. It can be accessed anywhere and there in no download required. I think Polleverywhere can be used in many ways to encourage participation and contributions to the happenings in the classroom. The live version cannot be used by users on handheld devices as of yet so that is something to be aware of but the appeal is still very real for students when they can answer a poll by text or even access Polleverywhere through Twitter. I think Polleverywhere can be used to help build school community and parent involvement as well. Often we have important decisions made in parent council meetings when there is only the tiniest fraction of parents present, imagine how a school could gather information about whats important with the simple to use tool. Did I mention there is a free version of Polleverywhere, and its great. The free version gives you unlimited polls, but limits the responses to 25 per poll, maybe an argument for class size 😉 All around Polleverywhere is a great tool that can be used purposefully in a classroom, and can act as a great hook to get kids interested in big events, from elections results to fundraising ideas Polleverywhere is a great way to give people a voice.                                                                                                                                                            download-4

Student Use: Our Ed tech class allowed us to first toy around with these sites as students. We got to experience what our students would experience and it was a great way to impress upon us the pros and cons of the tools that we expect students to navigate with the hopes they might generate some interest.

  1. As a student I enjoyed using padlet, even with the worlds slowest internet here in the computer labs at MHC! There were no distractions and I was able to navigate the site easily. A small annoyance was the way in which the individual squares move all over the place when the whole class is signing on, but if you wait a few minutes it calms down. I like that the backgrounds could be changed and that our names could be displayed or we could post anonymously. We have used padlet prior to this experience and it was great to see our whole class creating a resource that could be added to and used in future.
  2. I really enjoyed Socrative from a student point of view there were no distractions and I thought the locking feature really helped keep me on task. The site was  really easy to access with just an easy room number. Our responses were anonymous when the settings were set to “names not required” which helps more reserved students feel safe. It was easy to navigate Socrative on a desktop, I wasnt able to try it on my handheld but would like to hear about it if anyone has experience.
  3. Polleverywhere is fun! It is easy to use, no download required, and it is an opportunity to use our phones to contribute to our learning. I think Polleverywhere would be great to start conversations about the big issues like social justice. I bet it would be surprising to students to see the live results of some of the polls! Overall super easy to use and enjoyable, immediate, and anonymous feedback.
  4. I have to add a fourth one here as it is enormous fun if you are a trivia nerd like me (blame my teacher directed, fact remembering education, or maybe just the nerd genes I received from my Mom). Kahoot was seriously fun, it got people really excited. To be honest I do not remember a thing about what we were supposed to be learning about but I did enjoy myself. I played the individual version and things got competitive and there was a lot of energy in the room, though I enjoyed it this version is really for the fastest kids who can operate in a rapid fire, fast on your feet environment. I would really like to play the team version, and will spend more time exploring Kahoot. I will likely use Kahoot in future classrooms as a reward, or as a fast review after a unit. It might be fun to have two classes go head to head on a topic with well designed questions that can try and draw on the individual skill sets too. Though I am not super familiar yet with Kahoot it is something I wanted to include here because I think it is worth getting to know. It was easy to access as a student, and there are no distractions. The feedback is immediate as you can see how you scored. I found a blog post at “the snarky schoolteacher” that outlines 10 ways to use Kahoot in a classroom, I included it here because it suggests having the students make Kahoot quizzes for other students to help with review. That idea might work, if anyone has tried this, please let me know how it went!                                                             kahoot_colours-35

Teacher Use: Here we got to put on our teacher hats and get to work, I opened 7 accounts including Kahoot, Padlet, Polleverywhere, Spiral, Plickers, and Socrative. I also got to work on my Google Classroom skills with forms, it was an informative and eye-straining day! It was a great opportunity to look at the behind the scenes resources that teachers can tap into to try and up the engagement factor in their classrooms.

  1. I am going to start with Polleverywhere this time as I thought it was a great tool to start conversations in a classroom. It was simple to set up an account, and it was user friendly. There is the option to embed the polls right into your PowerPoint or Google slides. The time it takes to build a poll is nothing in comparison to coming up with a thoughtful, open ended poll question pertinent to your lesson, but take the time, it will be worth it! (NYit has a great resource on ways to integrate Polleverywhere into your classroom, so check that out if you have a moment.) Polleverywhere offers a good variety of question types and can be adapted to fulfill various learning outcomes. Overall a great tool!
  2. Socrative was one of my favourites as a student but did not rank quite as highly when I moseyed on over to the role of a teacher. I thought it took up a bit of time, though to be fair I am slow at my first go of almost everything (the exception is trying new foods, will wolf almost anything down in the blink of an eye… I digress) I would like to spend more time with Socrative maybe alongside a Socrative pro to really see what it can do. I think the free version on Socrative is great and would be very usable with no need to upgrade to the pro version at the moment. I had no troubles adding the students, it was actually one of the more user friendly sites to get a class added. And I will express again how much I enjoy the “exit ticket” feature.
  3. Lets talk about Plickers! I had fun as a student, and as a teacher creating my Plicker questions. Account set up was easy and the site is well organized. I was able to put together a short quiz quickly and easily, and was able to add pictures and gifs. I was able to organize my class quickly and you can add new folders to keep organized. I like that you can print the cards in different sizes, as was pointed out by our Cammie Kannekens the smaller cards inhibit others from being able to see what answer their peers may have chosen. I like that you only need one teacher device for this exercise and that the students get to interact as a class. I enjoyed plickers and know that I will make use of this tool in future.                                                                                                            download

Diagnostic/Feedback

  1. More information than you might be able to make use of, that is what you get from both Socrative and Google forms. I love it. There is a saying that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, well the same can be said for collecting information that can help you improve your proffesion. Socrative allows for feedback and information to be directed to individual students. Google forms does a great job of providing the teacher with info, but I like how Socrative can offer immediate feedback to the student. What a great way to be able to see where you as a teacher can go back and help a student build bridges to learn.
  2. Plickers offers the teacher a real time diagnostic. The results come in two ways, a graph for students, and a chart for the teacher to see who has answered and the number of correct or incorrect answers. The nature of the questions either multiple choice or true or false limits the feedback that can be supplied with the exception of use as perhaps an exit slip, or pretest. I found this website called “online tools for teaching and learning” to be a good summary of teachers experience with technology in the class.
  3. Polleverywhere’s free version does not come equipped with any reporting information. The paid version does offer reporting and so it is an option but I think the roll that polleverywhere can play in the classroom is to challenge assumptions and begin conversations. Polleverywhere provides opportunities to let students direct the learning, and illuminates teachers about possible avenues to learning, and so maybe it is not wh0lly necessary to “grade” the outcomes of these types of questions.

Conclusion

All in all I enjoyed my brief tour through the online learning tools available to educators, and look forward to Monday to see what else is out there. I find myself most partial to Google Classroom and all that it has to offer. I think I will use all of the applications listed here when their use most fits in with what we are trying to achieve. I am certain I will use Padlet at times to help build community in the classroom, and I am sure I will use Polleverywhere at times in the staffroom, as well as Kahoot! There are positives to each of the online tools and there will most definitely be times at which these tools will add to my lessons and promote engagement. The one thing I keep in mind as I have read it over and over while investigating these tools, is that these tools are only as effective and engaging as the teacher who brings them into the classroom. I will make sure to be creative and thoughtful when using these tools, and to think about why I am using them. The critical thinking needs to be the driver not the online tools. I am excited to share these online tools with my future digital citizens and look forward to the amazing things that children can achieve when they are given the right opportunities for the best individual outcomes!

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2 comments

  1. Hi Purposefullearning,

    I also love Padlet and you introduced me to a new perspective of it! I never thought about how great Padlet would be for students who have missed discussion days! They can login to their classroom Padlet from the comfort of their own home, get caught up on what they missed, and be ready for the next day!

    You discussed many good and valid points of each interactive system but I must agree that Google Classroom (or let’s be real, Google anything!) is one of the best and most beneficial tools to a classroom. It provides a wealth of knowledge, collaboration, and tools available to the classroom as a whole.

    Great post! I look forward to reading more from you.

    –Miss V

    Like

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