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5 Ways to Use Live Online Polls in the Classroom

5 Ways to Use Live Online Polls in the Classroom

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.

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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.

prediciton poll

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.”

sensitive poll

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.

Use this technique to kick off an essay assignment in one of these subjects. The six words students entered into the poll can be used as a starting place for developing their thesis statement. After class discussion, the statements can be transferred from the poll to a shared Google Doc for further comments and development at home.

During this activity, students enjoy a brief moment of fame as their statement is read to the class and discussed, while learning from the other submissions. This polling process provokes a thoughtful investigation of the topic as a class.

six words poll

More: 3 Ways to Teach Digital Literacy With Multimodal Text

5. Student-Ranked Q&A

It’s frustrating when you say “Any questions?” at the end of class and hear silence, especially when you can tell that there are concepts that need to be reviewed or explained further.

Instead of waiting for students to speak up, create a Q&A/Brainstorm poll where students can up-vote the questions they want answered. This poll takes minimal time to create and execute, and makes it clear where students stand.

Address the questions that rise to the top immediately or use them to plan tomorrow’s lesson.

q and a poll

Check out these use cases for more inventive ways to implement polling in your classroom or look at what other educators recommend on the Poll Everywhere blog.

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  1. Pingback: 3 Ways to Use Live Polling the First Week of School | Educational technology | Learn2Earn

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