A friend introduced me to this website called Socrative. It’s a technology-based way to engage students in classroom conversation while achieving 100% participation.
Yes, I said it.
I usually roll my eyes (inwardly, of course) when someone exhorts that 100% participation from students all the time is a must. I want students listening, absolutely, but I don’t need a student talking just to talk because he thinks it’s going to help his grade. For that exact reason, I don’t assign a grade to verbal participation. I myself don’t talk in whole class settings for weeks. I definitely talk when in small groups though.
Case in point: we have all been in a classroom where a teacher asks a question and the same few hands shoot up. Hell, I still see that in my own classroom. Although I try to remedy that with destiny sticks (all students’ names are written on popsicle sticks; I then pull a name at random and it’s that person’s “destiny” to speak; sometimes I give them a warning, most times I don’t; the sticks can also be used to assign random groups), there are some students who are just too shy to verbally participate.
Students can chart their response in Socrative. A bar graph then pops up which immediately shows what the whole class thinks. I was actually surprised at how excited the students were to see a simple bar graph. Short answer responses are available too. If the teacher chooses, students can then vote on the best response. I don’t know about you, but I try to think a little bit more about the content if I know it’s going to be shown to a wider audience of my peers rather than just the teacher.
Quizzes can also be pre-loaded into Socrative (it will automatically grade the multiple choice for you; the rest is up to you).
The quizzes can be formatted as a Space Race too. Space Race is a game, essentially. Each time a student answers a question correctly, his/her space shuttle moves across the screen. The kids got really animated trying to get their little rinky-dink space ship to move.
I loved it; I recommend it; and I’ll be using it a lot more times between now and the end of the school year.
I still know next to nothing about game-based education, but I’m definitely open to exploring it more if it’ll keep the kids as excited as they were with Space Race.
Note: If internet access is an issue but there is a computer lab at your school, I would suggest structuring a lesson that can take place in the computer lab every once in a while. I’m trying to do just that at least twice a month with my students. Socrative can also be accessed via smart phones, but a projector would still be needed to show the class bar graphs, short answer responses, space shuttles, etc…