classroom technology

New Classroom Technology for the New Year

Many teachers are wary of trying new classroom technology, but there are some options available that can make formative assessment more meaningful and accessible.

It is rare to go an entire class period without using some sort of classroom technology these days. Whether it is using tablets, phones, or laptops, students always have their hands on some sort of electronic device. What can be tricky is utilizing classroom technology in a way that is both engaging for the student and valuable for the teacher. This is where apps that facilitate formative assessment come in handy. Students are engaged through a game-like atmosphere, and teachers are able to benefit from valuable data. Two of the latest versions of this type of classroom technology are Poll Everywhere and Mouse Mischief. Let’s take a closer look at each.

Poll Everywhere

What is it?

classroom technologyPoll Everywhere is exactly what its name implies, a poll that you can give anywhere! Without a lengthy set up, you can create a poll on their website or app, and have students respond using their own devices. An answer is submitted using text, internet messaging, or even Twitter. The results are instantly displayed in real-time in the web browser, or embedded within a PowerPoint. Poll question formats include multiple choice, free text (open ended), true or false, and clickable images. You can even customize the look of the poll by changing the colors, fonts, or graphics. Polls can either be anonymous, or you can have students register beforehand so you know who voted and what they said.

How much does it cost?

There is a free version of this classroom technology, but you are limited to 25 responses per poll. This obviously won’t work if you have larger class sizes. Paid plans range from $19 to as high as $499 a month, but the $19 a month (or $10 per month for a year commitment) is most likely all that is needed for classroom. This will allow you up to 50 responses, and it will provide reporting and grading through PDFs or Excel spreadsheets.

What device or software do you need?

That is the great thing! It works with any device that can either text or go on the internet. The poll itself can be viewed on the website, or embedded to a PowerPoint presentation.

How can it be used in the classroom?

This classroom technology can be used to collect any sort of formative assessment data you need. This would be perfect to use as a pre-assessment at the start of a lesson, checking in during the lesson, or as a ticket out. You can create team competitions for further engagement. My favorite is that the free text poll can be viewed as a word cloud, providing a fun way to share student responses.

What is the downside?

The cost can add up if you would like to use the reporting features. I also worry about what students may submit in the free text polls since it will go right up on the screen. I’m sure you can all picture a student or two who’d like to take advantage of that opportunity! The ability to moderate answers comes with a pricier plan, but you can just choose to use the other formats if you’re worried about allowing students to write anything they want. Otherwise, this classroom technology is user friendly and quick!

Mouse Mischief

What is it?

classroom technologyMouse Mischief is a classroom technology created by Microsoft as an add-on for PowerPoint. This download will allow you to insert questions, polls, and drawing activities into your PowerPoint presentations. Students then use their own mice (a computer mouse, not the animal!) to click, circle, cross out, or draw on the screen. Since it utilizes PowerPoint, you can fully customize the look of your questions, and even allow students to have various clicker icons and colors.

How much does it cost?

It is free! You just need to be sure you have enough mice for your students.

What platform does it run on?

This is an add-on to Microsoft Powerpoint. You must download the add-on from the website, and it will then add a tab within the program. Here you can create questions.

How can it be used in the classroom?

Mouse Mischief can be used for student engagement and formative assessment throughout the lesson. Allowing each student to have their own mouse provides an opportunity for students to feel involved. Depending on how you design the presentation, you can create a sense of competition as well. This add-on also provides data including which students answered first, and who answered correctly.

What is the downside?

The biggest negative to using this classroom technology is needing a mouse for each student to participate. You can purchase inexpensive mice to use each year, but I worry about the upkeep. I am also curious about how confusing it may get with over twenty different mouse cursors up on one screen.

What will you try?

Try out one of these classroom technologies the next time you see your students starting to fade. I recommend Poll Everywhere for middle or high school classrooms, and Mouse Mischief for elementary. Both will provide an innovative way to assess your students while incorporating competition and fun. Check out more ideas to change your classroom in 2017!

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Alexandra D. Owens

Alexandra Owens is a STEM Education consultant based in Charleston, SC. She taught middle school science for many years and is now completing her doctorate in STEM Education at Texas Tech University.

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