5 Ways to Use Polling Tools in the Classroom

It’s fun to work with actively engaged and enthusiastic students. But holding the attention of distracted kids or making the quiet ones participate can be a big challenge that requires some extra effort and creativity.

To get students excited about the learning process, teachers should not only rely on lectures but also incorporate interactive, hands-on activities in the classroom.

Research has shown that cooperation and active learning increase student performance and make the lesson stick. While asking questions and running conversations is the traditional way to get students participate, it’s not always effective. Following the trends of the digital era, many teachers turn to technology, namely polling tools such as Swift Polling (my company!), Socrative and PollDaddy to achieve maximum engagement and active dialogue in the classroom.

Here are 5 ways teachers can use polling tools to make their classes more interactive

Run quizzes and competitions

Keeping the healthy competition alive in the classroom is a great way to enhance learning and make students use their full potential. Polling tools allow teachers to run quizzes or competitions to challenge the students on their knowledge on a certain topic.

According to a 2014 research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, quizzes taken before the exams improve later performance among middle and high school students.

Teachers can hold “quiz nights” before end of semester exams to test students in a fun and interactive way. For added competition, they can reward the winners of each poll with a little prize, such as colorful, button-shaped chocolates. The winner will be the team that has more chocolate buttons at the end of the game. This fun game will help students reinforce the key points of the material and get better ready for exams.

Check the students’ understanding of a topic

Sometimes it may be hard to know whether students are keeping up with the material. Asking directly if they understand the topic might not always be effective as some students might feel uncomfortable to voice their doubts. But running a quick poll halfway through the lesson can help to gauge the students’ understanding of the subject matter and adjust the lesson based on their needs.

This can be easily done by asking a multiple-option question, giving the students some time to reflect and checking the results. As the responses are updated instantly, teachers can draw a quick conclusion about the understanding gaps and adjust the lesson plan.

Track student attendance the techie way

Most teachers still use a traditional roll call to measure student attendance. But reading the students’ names one by one is a time-consuming activity that takes 5-10 minutes away from each lesson.

By taking daily attendance with web and text message polls teachers can use the first minutes of the class for something more interesting and valuable for students. Running a poll with the students’ names as answer options and asking the students to vote for themselves is a fun and interactive way to start the lesson.

Tips: Students are clever. They know how to outsmart teachers, but who says teachers can’t outwit students? To make sure that students don’t vote for their absent buddies, teachers can set a vote limit per device. They can also set a timer so that all the students vote at the same time and there’s no chance to inform the absent ones about the voting.

Run anonymous surveys to receive feedback

Asking students to share their thoughts about the lessons can be an effective way to evaluate and improve teaching methods. As students may not want to voice their feedback directly, anonymous surveys can be a great way to find out what they really think about the lessons and how the teachers can improve and refine their teaching methods. Besides traditional end-of-semester surveys, teachers can also solicit mid-semester feedback to hear students’ concerns while there’s time to make changes.

Run Q&A sessions

Q&A sessions are an important part of the lesson but sometimes they don’t work because some students feel uncomfortable to ask questions in front of their peers. There’s always a handful of active students in any classroom who bombard teachers with their questions, while the rest get disengaged in the process. Polling tools, such as Swift Polling, allow teachers to receive open-ended questions, making the Q&As more interactive and engaging. They help to develop critical thinking and involve students in class discussions.

Armine Marukyan is a content writer at Swift Polling. Besides being a writing enthusiast, she is also passionate about innovation in education and alternative teaching methods. She has volunteered in several youth organizations supporting youth works and non-formal education.