There are so many technology tools around that sometimes, it’s hard to know which ones to use in the classroom. My thinking is that it’s good to try them all and then figure out which ones best suit you as a teacher and the class with whom you are using the tool. I also believe that it is important to use a range of tools to maintain student engagement.
A free tech tool I recently discovered is Kahoot, an online quiz tool. The website (go here to create a Kahoot and the students go here to complete the quiz). The website has three options – quiz, survey and discussion. So far, I’ve only used the quiz. Each quiz provides a competition-like atmosphere, which students love. Each question has a time limit (you can set the time limit) and students win points for each correct answer. After each question, a leadership board appears on the screen, much to the delight of students. Normally, I am not a fan of class competitions as I worry about the anxiety they induce in some students as well as the students who sometimes struggle and need extra thinking time. However, adding two extra ‘tweaks’ to the Kahoot experience can turn a simple quiz into a much more powerful learning experience.
The first ‘tweak’ is to pause after each question (especially the questions that many students got incorrect) and ask students to prove their answer to the person next to them. This simple addition not only means that students are articulating their thinking, but for those students who had an incorrect answer (the quiz provides immediate feedback), they are hopefully able to rectify any misconceptions.
The second ‘tweak’ is to allow students to write their own Kahoot questions. During or after a unit, students work by themselves or in pairs to create questions for a student-created Kahoot quiz. Students write their questions and multiple choice answers in their book and I use them to create the online quiz. Allowing students to create the quiz questions automatically differentiates the learning experience because questions of various complexity are able to be created, as can be seen in the examples below where the first example simply imitates the sample equations and the final example uses two different operations.
Allowing students to create their own questions gives a useful insight into their ability to not only answer questions, but write the question and provide appropriate answer choices. It is easy to see the level of sophistication of their thinking by looking at the answer choices they provide. Are they able to predict student misconceptions or have they simply used random numbers?
When making decisions about technology use in the classroom, I am interested in choosing the right tool for the right purpose, not using technology for the sake of using technology. I want the technology to help me be a better teacher, not simply engage the students. Student engagement is the cherry on top but not the essential ingredient. I am more interested in how I can use the technology in a meaningful, purposeful manner. I am in interested in how the technology can help me understand students and their thinking.
How can you tweak a technology tool to make it work better for you?