It’s Christmas!

Last lesson today and I got a chance to try out Socrative, that fabulous piece of software which has been sent from above to make learning more fun and interactive and which teachers can use for a whole myriad of purposes. If you don’t want to read about my use of it just go to the bottom of this post and have a look at the “idiot guide to how to use it” I made earlier.

I’d spotted it a couple of weeks ago and thought it might be useful, ideas started to pop into my head on how to use it and I was away… all kinds of possibilities opened up before me and I decided that this would be the innovative teaching method I will present at conference in May, so don’t pinch it!

I’d tried it out on the ‘home focus group’ (see previous post) but tentatively asked for an opportunity to try it with the class today. As we were winding down for Christmas and most had finished assignments I was given the go ahead to not only practice using it with the students but also to demo it to my mentor. To make it more of a fun thing to encourage their engagement I set up a Christmas Quiz, just twenty questions, mostly multiple choice but threw in some short text answers and also some picture questions! Yay, picture questions!! I hadn’t realised you could even include those until today. I was such an excited geek.

I’m getting old, I’m 46 and not the typical techno lover but I really do love all this new technology and I embrace its use where it adds something, even if that is only enjoyment. Enjoyment is well worth adding right? If I can do it anyone can.

So anyway, the students were briefed that I was going to do a hopefully fun activity and that I was trying some new software. A couple asked what it was and I tried to explain it and they said “oh it sounds boring”, “I don’t think I’ll like it”, “just sounds like hassle to me” and I said that was fine if that’s what they thought after the quiz, but would they just throw me a bone and participate for five minutes so I could try it out . If they still thought it was rubbish after seeing it they could tell me and that would be really useful feedback for me to include in a reflection of the day’s teaching.

So we started and everyone signed in, no problems. The site and the classroom number were written on the white board for everyone to log in, I asked some to log in on PC’s and some on mobile phones just to test it’s claim of being accessible from any internet enabled device. Everyone managed this without any trouble and I saw the number of students in the class climb until we had everyone engaged and locked in.

I selected the team challenge and selected the 3 team option, the students were delighted when they found out they’d been allocated a team randomly and they buzzed around finding who was on the same team as them.

Then I launched the quiz in student led mode so that I didn’t have to intervene and I flicked the rocket ships flying towards the finish line onto the interactive whiteboard so they could watch their team’s progress.  Of course they didn’t watch, they were so engrossed in answering the questions that it was left to me to keep them updated on progress by shouting out like a horse race commentator, getting louder and more excited as they did.

It was a real HIT! Everyone had fun, really enjoyed it and wanted more. At the end I left the teacher’s view up on the whiteboard and showed them the options and how I could download a summary of activity and how that came as a spreadsheet and we had a laugh at some of the wrong answers and looked at who the individual winner was. I was keen to point out that I would not normally expose individual performance to the class in this manner but as this was just for fun everyone was OK with it.

My mentor had fun changing the information into charts and graphs and we had a good discussion of all the possible uses: whether or not they would take a quiz as homework, whether they would take a quiz at the end of a class as a recap activity and they were very optimistic about it and asked if I can find ways to embed it into their lessons. Get that, THEY ASKED ME!!!

My mentor loved it too and was enthusiastic about the features for monitoring performance, input, levels of understanding, gaps in teaching, levels of engagement and so many other things that I had been excited about when I first saw it.

WIN WIN situation! They loved it, I have my tech for my presentation next year.

I just can’t wait now to use it in ‘proper’ lessons and start to use some of the data for analysis and to try some of the other features. If you’ve not seen it before have a look it’s great. I’ve made a video of how to go about it and it’s on my You Tube site, click at the top of the page to go directly there and have a look at it or view here:

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