Sunday, February 12, 2012

IB Science and History of the Americas .... Formative Assessment with Poll Everywhere

The theme for teacher workshops this week was Formative Assessment with Technology , which was based on an experience using Poll Everywhere in the IB Bio HL class. Amaral was looking for a technology tool to help with pre-assessment and I happened to be looking at Poll Everywhere for a while and also taking an ASB online course on formative assessment. We decided to go for Poll Everywhere, which has a free online version and seemed to provide the quick whole class feedback that was expected.

The experience with Poll Everywhere went very well and I was happy to see that after the workshop, Caitlin decided to use it as a review tool with students on the next day. Her students really liked Poll Everywhere and asked for more.  Her feedback on its use was positive as she felt more able to target review to the class needs shown on the poll results.

Just to give you a more detailed idea of how Poll Everwhere was used in Amaral's class, here is the account of the context for this quick "taking the pulse of the class".  

A new unit had just been introduced using a flipped classroom strategy. For flipping the class, a shared Goggle Doc was used by the students to collectively answer given questions about the unit on Gas Exchange in the Respiratory System. To answer the question, students had to do research (see the shared doc here). Poll everywhere was used to do a pre-assessment on their learning at that point to check gaps and levels of understanding and therefore help target teaching of the new Unit (as some teaching was done through the Google Doc, the remaining teaching had to be more targeted as it was not starting from scratch). The pre-asessment was also used to prime student learning.

A set of multiple answer questionswas developed by Amaral to be used with Poll Everywhere. You can check each poll question with  the responses chart in the following links: question 1, question2, question3, question4, question5, question6, question7, question8
At the beginning of class the students were immediately presented with the pre-assessment with Poll Everywhere. It was very easy for students with laptops to access the poll online through That gave them direct access to a real time visualization of the active poll with no need to vote through keywords/codes (just choosing a choice on the screen). One student with a blackberry did not know how to send a message (!! surprise) and did not seem connected, so he ended up with my laptop. Another student with a cell phone chose to access the poll through the browser instead of through messenger. All of that did not take long, so we were ready to start.

Students were given 1 minute to look at the poll and vote (one poll represents one question). At first, we had the chart on, so students could see the voting percentages as they were coming. That did not seem to discourage a few who voted for something different on their own. But on the third poll we decided to hide the chart and show it only hen all students finished voting.
After each poll/question, there was opportunity to provide instruction and guiding questions targeted to the class needs indicated in that poll. After the issue was cleared, then the class moved to the next poll. The 8 polls with targeted instruction took the whole 80 minutes period. Students participated actively and seemed curious about the poll results and the instruction afterwards.
I think the activity went very well apart from some annoyances with the free version of Poll Everywhere (the downloaded poll on a PowerPoint slideshow had to be stopped and started again every time we hide/show the chart view, and a new poll was taking a while to show on students’ laptops so they had to refresh).

I sent a quick survey to the students ( I hope you can see the results here ). It seems that using the poll helped with their learning and with instruction when compared with the traditional strategy of asking an oral question to the whole class and wait for a few to answer. A general agreement so far involves seeing the whole class responses, which is a way of assessing yourself in relation to the group, as positive to individual learning.
I will definitely look into the paid options for Poll Everywhere and compare with the use of Google Forms.

1 comment:

  1. Silvana,
    Thanks for sharing this with our community. I'm glad to see that this tool has helped teachers formatively assess students. As much as I hate to hear about the 'clicker' that teachers in the US use in classes to assess students' knowledge on standardized test type questions, I see the need to dip stick and quickly gain an understanding of what the students do/do not know. Looking forward to hearing more stories like this.