Try these digital tools to engage students. Digital tools for the classroom will provide data to adjust and plan future lessons.
Our world changed quickly: Teachers, you are completely e-learning or teaching online in some capacity. You might be in the classroom but want to add digital activities to your students’ learning. No matter when or how you’re teaching, tools to engage students online will help students in a variety of ways.
I’ve used these digital tools with my students with success. I’ve used others that students and I didn’t favor, but these four work and provide me with important data. Here they are:
Kahoot isn’t new or complicated. Teachers create questions and possible answers. Students log on, enter a game code, choose a name, and compete.
Students can choose their own names. I warn students to choose school-appropriate names, but if this is problematic, Kahoot will assign random names to players. Students always want to complete for a “prize,” and I normally give the winner a sticker. (They like this.)
Kahoot is perfect for review, gathering data, and having fun. You can use Kahoots made from other teachers. Check to make sure the borrowed Kahoots are accurate!
Students can review material with a Kahoot alone. Provide students with the code for a game and let them review at their own speed.
I like that Kahoot offers different templates. I typically choose the question with four options. I add images that students take to liven the experience. For instance when we build sentences, students snap pictures of their goofy sentences. They are easy to add to Kahoots based on the same subject.
I use GimKit as an extra practice, a fun activity. Students must answer questions, and when they do, they earn “money.” They can buy power-ups and shields for protection. They compete against their classmates.
I like that I can enter each student’s name, and the names are clean and ready.
I ask students to refrain from “freezing” the same classmate over and over. With the points that students ear, they can stop certain players from playing. True, students typically block the student doing the best (who knows the information) and my students are overall good sports about this feature, but I limit how many times they can freeze each other.
GimKit moves quickly. I’ve actually had students tell me that the game overwhelms them and aligned with SEL, I allow those students to opt out and use a different format. Overall though, 90% of my students love GimKit.
Tell students when you will be playing. Students can review the information alone, but if you schedule a time to play, students will be engaged with their peers.
After playing a GimKit, the teacher will get a report. You can see where you need to review or adjust.
Study Stack is my personal favorite online learning tool. This flashcard-based activity aligns with how I personally learn, and many of your students will like it too. (You can look at one of my active and passive voice Study Stacks and use it in your classroom.)
My goal is to create a variety of activities to support students as they have new topics. This format is perfect for differentiation because not all students need to practice every Study Stack.
Students create Study Stacks too! They share them and study. I don’t share the codes with all students of the student creations unless I have time to verify all answers. I don’t want to send out inaccurate information.
Warn students that when they use another student’s study stack, they should verify the information. They might be better to create their own.
My favorite part of Study Stack is that the cards separate into “know” and “don’t know.” I suggest to students that they review their “don’t know” stack before cycling through the cards again.
Poll Everywhere is free. You set up an account, create a poll, and give students a link.
I use Poll Everywhere in two main ways: student choice and feedback.
Poll Everywhere is a fabulous way to pique student interest in a new topic and then use their feedback to shape future lessons. For example, you can ask students what sounds the most interesting: flapper dresses, jazz music, or silent movies. Then after students vote, you could ask them to begin the research into the culture of the 1920s. I allow their choices to shape how we begin our research.
Don’t show the poll as students vote. They change their votes to get to a certain percentage or to match their friends.
You have the ability to turn off votes, and I do that before I show the final results.
If your classes are online, use Poll Everywhere to check in with students. You can ask what they are understanding, where they are confused, and what they would like you to review. You could also do fun polls to engage classes, like asking what everyone had for breakfast.
I will also use this as a quick form of feedback for me. For instance, I’ve listed vocabulary words and asked for students to vote on the most difficult. I’ve listed the parts of a story and asked them to vote for the most fascinating. Their feedback (often done at the end of the class period) allows me to shape the next day’s lesson.
These are four simple (and at the time of writing) free digital tools to engage students. After students complete their activities, you can then use the data for organizing extension activities or extra practice. I hope these digital tools help you, and please stay safe.