Facilitating Literacy in the 21st Century: Poll everywhere

 This is the sixth post in a series about 21st Century tools in the literacy classroom

 By readingintheborderlands

 Most educators fervently believe that cell phones have no place in the classroom. However, as cell phones and mobile devices become more integrated into our everyday lives, how realistic is it to relegate them to out-of-school use? While there are definitely challenges, how can schools take advantage of the educational uses of cell phones without encouraging off-task or inappropriate behavior?

 Poll Everywhere is a free site (make sure you click on the K-12 or Higher Ed link) that gives you instant student response through cell phones or other mobile devices. The teacher sets up a poll, which can be multiple choice or open ended. Polls can be created in under a minute. Students then text a response, and results instantly appear on the screen. Results can be shown in graph format. This is particularly effective for large classes or topics where students would prefer to remain anonymous.

 How can Poll Everywhere be used in a literacy classroom?

  • Before beginning a unit or a book study, ask the class a question that will help them make connections or build interest in what they’ll be learning. For example, before beginning to read Miracle’s Boys by Jacqueline Woodson the teacher could use Poll Everywhere to ask students “What does family mean to you?” As students text their responses, the class can immediately see what their classmates think.
  • During a whole class discussion the teacher can pose a question (or a series of questions) about an intensely debated issue. If, when reading Miracle’s Boys, several students disagree about whether or not Lafayette should reach out to NewCharlie, the teacher could get responses from the entire class through Poll Everywhere.
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