This past week I was able to try out a variety of websites that assist teachers in delivering lessons through creative and dynamic (and sometimes challenging) ways!
I thought it would be a great idea to share my thoughts and opinions on the websites I tried out. I will give an overall rating on each website from 1 to 5 and explain my reasoning.
1 – uneffective, too complicated/simplistic, etc.
2 – potentially effective, but only with practice.
3 – somewhat effective.
4 – mostly effective (fairly user friendly, useful features).
5 – very effective (user friendly, multi-purpose)
Since I am both, a learner and an educator, I thought it would be most beneficial to write from a student’s perspective as well as a teacher’s perspective.
So grab a coffee and get comfortable!
Student Use (rating varies from 4-5)
I give Kahoot an overall rating of 4 because I find it very effective for students. It is not only easy to use but fun as well! It encourages participation by having all students engaged on their devices; competitiveness by wanting to be the first one to answer; and mindful thinking of appropriate placement and order of answers. Students can access Kahoot on either a desktop or a handheld device. However, there are a few weaknesses I found using this website as a student. First, I disliked how you have to click the answer and slide it to the appropriate place. I think it would be more user friendly to simply click the answer and it automatically slides into the place. Second, I disliked how the word answers were only on the teacher’s screen and not the students’ screens. It made it challenging to answer the questions efficiently and effectively, but I guess it encourages students to think mindfully before they answer questions!
Socrative gets an overall rating of 5. There are numerous benefits students gain from using Socrative. Students use their teacher’s ‘room code’ to enter and activate the questions. The teacher has to start the activity on their screen so until they do so, students will see a waiting screen appear. This prevents students from starting ahead or before the teacher is prepared for them to begin! Students can either use Socrative on a desktop or handheld device, I personally prefer using the handheld device! If the teacher has prepared a quiz for the students, they will be required to enter their names. Students also have the ability to jump between questions, skip, review, or edit their answers before submitting it!
Breakout EDU Digital gets an overall rating of 5! It is easily accessible to students and incredibly fun! Although I found it challenging, it was so addicting I could not stop until I accomplished it! This website allows students the ability to choose their level of difficulty. The website informs what levels would be appropriate for particular grades. For example, levels 1-4 are good for elementary and levels 8-10 are good for adults. If a level is too easy for some students, they can bump up their level of difficulty and vice versa. This website would work better on a desktop instead of a handheld device. Using a handheld device to access all the features on the digital breakout would be too difficult for students and might end up disengaging them.
Teacher Use (rating varies from 3-5)
Spiral gets an overall rating of 3. I enjoyed testing out Spiral but it was not one of my favorite websites. It is a great way to use “quickfire” and “discuss” questions with students or even “team up” students and create a little competition. It does not take any amount of time to set up questions for students but I did not think it was any different than a lot of other websites out there. The “teacher login” and “student login” is a nice feature to have as it provides appropriate material depending on who is logging in. If there are similar answers to a question, it groups all the same answers together. This provides teachers to easily see the students’ answers instead of having to individually read each student’s answer even though it may be the same as the person previous. It also allows teachers to see who has answered the question and who hasn’t. If the student has submitted their answer, their name will be highlighted on the teacher’s screen. Spiral also allows teachers to encourage collaboration and peer support by allowing students to comment on posts by their peers. Given everything I have mentioned, I think this website is somewhat effective (rating of 3). It would have a higher rating if it had a unique aspect to it and did not seem like a website that could be easily duplicated.
I think Smart Lab Activities get an overall rating of 4. Smart Lab Activities are a phenomenal way to engage students in lessons! The activities are interactive and encourage student collaboration within the classroom. Although some activities may be time consuming for teachers to create, it is well worth the time because it is far more beneficial for students to be engaged in their learning rather than sitting in a chair reading from a textbook!
Plickers gets an overall rating of 5. It is one of those awesome time-saving tools for teachers and provides instant results and reports! I think this website deserves a high rating simply because it does not require every student to have their own device so it is great for low-tech classes. Teachers simply hold up their devices and scan students’ responses from their custom response cards and the results are recorded. Teachers with limited free time should definitely incorporate this website into their lesson plans! It does not require a lot of time nor does it take up a lot of classroom time!
Flexibility Variety of Questions (rating varies from 3-5)
Peardeck gets an overall rating of 3, somewhat effective. Although I see the many benefits to Peardeck, it was not my favorite website to use. Teachers can choose from four different question formats: agree/disagree, free draw, short/long text, and multiple choice questions. It is nice to provide students with a variety of question formats due to the diverse learners in each classroom. Some students may work better if they have multiple choice questions where they know that one of the answers provided is the correct answer. However, other students may work better if they can answer a question through short/long answer where they can provide reasoning behind their answers.
I really enjoy using Padlet and I think its overall rating is 5 because teachers have the ability to form their questions however they choose! There is not a particular format of question that Padlet requires. Teachers can create their own questions in any format and type it into their Padlet for their students to answer. The answers are all placed on one Padlet for the teacher to see. I think allowing teachers to choose their own questions is a huge benefit of this website! I am definitely going to use Padlet in my future classroom.
Google Forms (or anything Google related) are great! The overall rating is 5. Google is such a huge part of the classroom these days so I think every teacher should be aware and comfortable using all that Google has to offer, including Google Forms. It provides teachers the option to choose from nine different question formats! How great is that!? Teachers can create questions in a variety of ways such as text, paragraph, multiple choice, grid, scale, date, time, list, and checkbox format! Teachers can also add pictures to their questions!
Diagnostic Feedback (rating varies from 2.5-5)
Quizlet Live gets an overall rating of 2.5, simply because I struggled understanding it! I’m sure it was very easy to use and understand, but for some reason I struggled… yikes. The results are provided instantly though which is great for ‘quizlet-live-confused-users.’
Poll Everywhere gets an overall rating of of 4. The results are provided instantly and are updated following a new answer submission. Students simply have to text their responses to a specific number which sends their answers to the poll. Teachers have the option to “lock the poll” which prevents future responses. Teachers can also clear poll results to use again. Polls are also easy to share with others. There is a shareable response link that teachers can copy, paste, and send to others.
Google Forms gets an overall rating of 5 for diagnostic feedback. It provides instant and straightforward results. After questions are answered, Google Forms provides a “summary” and an “individual” response report. The summary report provides pie charts, scales, and percents of the results from the questions. The individual report provides the information and answers from each individual separately.
My Personal Top Sites Are…
Although, it is extremely hard to narrow down my personal favorite websites, I did find that two websites stood out from the rest: GOOGLE FORMS & BREAKOUT EDU DIGITAL.
Like I previously said, anything Google related is extremely beneficial to the classroom! Google Forms allows teachers to create quizzes from a variety of question formats; adapts to diverse learners through providing a range of question formats; and provides summary and individual reports of the results! It is not overly time-consuming and a great way to gauge students’ learning.
Breakout EDU Digital brings fun into the classroom! Students will be engaged and challenged all while having a blast trying to crack the codes! As a pre-service educator, the only downside of this website is how time-consuming creating a Breakout is! However, taking the time and effort to create one for your students shows that you are willing to go the extra mile (and that is never a bad thing!)!
Well if you didn’t fall asleep during this lengthy post, I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on the various educational websites!