Poll Everywhere

Today was my first day back at work since the JALT conference and I was keen to try out something that I heard about over the weekend. After completing the mid-textbook test with the students I saw an opportunity to use Poll Everywhere.

It’s a very quick and simple way to get a response from people in your audience, or your classroom. Usually, after a test I ask the students how they felt about it – easy, hard, so-so. Inevitably (and I should know better after all these years, but I ask the question almost without thinking), the students respond with a wall of silence. There is no way anyone is going to put their neck on the line and say how they think they did. This is where Poll Everywhere comes in.

Simply create an account and you can whip-up a short poll with a few sentences and a couple of clicks. I can then ask the students to get their smartphones out and visit the url where the poll is being conducted. They are then presented with the questions, which are nicely-formatted, and they can simply tap their response from the available multiple choice options. Click next to move onto the next item and, before long, you have the anonymous responses of all the students.

I was able to find out that the test was easy for about 50% of the students and the “language in context” section was the hardest. The ability to get responses from the students instantly could be priceless in some cases, although I already knew that the test was on the easy side. One could certainly find more interesting uses for this, and even use it for quizzes. The students had no hesitation to give their answers. More importantly, there was no login or sign up required by the students, so it was quick and painless even on my first attempt using it.

 

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JALT 2016

This year saw my first visit to the annual conference for the Japan Association of Language Teachers (JALT). I must admit that it was more than I expected it to be. There were a lot of highly experienced instructors and researchers, and it was great to see what topics people are engaging in at the moment. A lot of food for thought!

Areas of particular interest to me were extensive listening and CALL, but there were certainly a lot of inspiring ideas to consider.

I plan to introduce the xreading system to my students soon, and I hope I can do some research on how the students respond to it.

In terms of CALL, Quizlet Live seems to be the hot topic at the moment. I think my students would love to use it, but internet connection issues at the university might scupper that. I also enjoyed a short presentation about using Google Drive as a tool to collect speaking homework from the students. The presenter claimed that his students really enjoy doing it, even though they don’t get specific feedback. I think I would have to try hard to convince the students of the value in this, but assigning it as 30% of their final grade might be enough encouragement for them! What homework I would set, I’m not really sure yet, but I do like the idea of using the transcripts from the textbook CDs.