Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

3 Ways to Use Live Polling the First Week of School

3 Ways to Use Live Polling the First Week of School

By Jason Franklin

The start of the new school brings with it a great deal of promise. By the time students show up, you’ve already dedicated weeks of planning toward making the year amazing and effective.

august_cut paper logs

We’re all looking for an edge, a way to connect better with students. How can you engage even the most reserved students to creatively build classroom community, assess their understanding of a subject, or give them some ownership in planning the semester?

Mobile phones and devices are everywhere can make a significant impact when used correctly; for classroom activities such as live polling.

Here are three areas where you can employ real-time polling to make the first few weeks of school more exciting for both you and them.

More: How to Bring BYOD Into Your Classroom

Getting to Know You

Students file into class as the bell rings. They see the seating chart on the screen, find their desks, and discover the same form they just filled out in three other classes today: the “Introduce Yourself” sheet.

Building classroom community is important. Instead of having the students sit quietly at their desks, filling out yet another personal survey, use real-time polling to make it a true community building experience.

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Instead of the typical “What did you do last summer” essay, you can use an open-ended poll to have the students describe “My summer in six words.” Or have the students share something fun like: “One weird thing about me is…”

Since polling is anonymous, participants tend to be more honest than they would otherwise. You can use the moderation tools to filter out inappropriate responses and display them in a word cloud on the screen.

You can turn nearly any personal survey sheet into a real-time poll activity, making it a truly interactive way to build your classroom community.

I Did it My Way

We all like to have ownership in what we’re doing, and because of this, students are more apt to learn about something they’re truly interested in. An Economics teacher can use real-time polling to help students select a business as a case study for this semester’s topic; an English teacher could allow the students to decide which of Shakespeare’s works the class will study in depth.

Remember the Time

One of the things educators need to know is where each student is at academically or what they remember from the previous year. An assessment quiz (or survey) is often used to gauge that.

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Rather than handing the students yet another sheet of paper to work on quietly at their desks, spend five minutes on a series of quick polls.

“You can turn nearly any personal survey sheet into a real-time poll activity, making it a truly interactive way to build your classroom community.”

An English teacher could use a simple multiple-choice poll to ascertain basic grammar knowledge. A Geometry teacher could use the same type of poll to ask: “Which of the following is the Pythagorean Theorem?” A World History teacher might use an open-ended poll to have the students complete the sentence, “One thing I know about the French Revolution.”

Remember: these polls are anonymous, so students will be able to answer without feeling embarrassed about whether they know the answer or not.

More: 5 Ways to Use Live Polling in the Classroom

Bonus Idea: Polling Parents

Polling can be used to interact with parents as well.

One school in Northern California takes its Sr. High students on a weeklong science trip each year. The parents and teachers together decide on a field of study and an appropriate destination. A quick Q&A-Brainstorm poll in the middle of the planning meeting provides the group with a simple way to decide where the students will go and what they’ll study.



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