Polleverywhere.com is a website that I have used several times over the past few years. The idea of the website is to allow people to respond to poll questions via text message or via the web if you have access to computers. There are a couple of ways in which I have personally used poll everywhere. The first is to assess students prior knowledge before learning about a topic. To do this I can create a handful of polls, have students take them in class and get a general idea of how much they know already.
The second way I have used poll everywhere is to informally assess students learning on a particular topic that we have already covered. One of the nice features of poll everywhere is the ability to download slides for PowerPoint. These live slides allow you to present a lesson and ask poll questions before, after, or periodically throughout your presentation. This is a nice touch and adds some interaction to your typical PowerPoint lesson. Poll everywhere will also allow you to open ended polling questions which I have not tried due to the inability to moderate received messages (this is a premium feature that is not available for free). One possible solution to this would be to freeze the image on your data projector that has the instructions while you monitor incoming messages on the computer to ensure their content is school safe. Beyond the pre and post assessment uses you could also use the open ended polling to conduct a classroom debate where students could anonymously post their thoughts and comments.
While this isn’t a tool I use daily it is one that I like to periodically use as students tend to find it a nice way to break from the typical classroom routine. The site works better at the high school level where students are more likely to have cell phones. If your district has a strict cell phone usage policy please speak with your building administrators before using poll everywhere (I happen to work in a district that encourages this type of usage of technology). Before using poll everywhere I explain to students that they should only participate if they have text messaging. Typically there are a couple of students who do not have cell phones or text messaging, and for these students you can either have them participate with a friend or just sit out the polling for that day. Another issue that some may have is simply students using their cell phones in class. While some monitoring and walking around the class helps with this issue it may not be possible to entirely stop them from using their cell phones during this time. If this concerns you poll everywhere might not be for you. One other limitation to poll everywhere’s free edition is that you are allowed 40 responses per poll. To work around this you can simply download the results after each class or group you poll and clear the results to get 40 new responses.
– Easy and simple to use interface
– Real time results allow for an informal assessment tool
– Anonymous polling (students don’t need to feel embarrassed that they don’t know the answer)
– PowerPoint integration is seamless and simple
– Good way to break up a lesson with something students will enjoy
– Can be slightly time consuming to get students to respond
– Use of cell phones may be an issue for some schools
– Limited to 40 responses per poll (You may reset these polls)
– Open ended polls do not allow for teacher to moderate responses (free version)
OVERALL – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Poll everywhere is a neat tool that I enjoy using periodically in my classroom. While I do find that it is a bit too time consuming for the value it can provide it is a nice way to differentiate instruction and informally assess your students abilities.