Polling and Voting in Class: 5 Great Ways to Increase Student Participation

voting cat

This post was originally featured on Thought Partners, a blog for educators, hosted by the excellent classroom behavior management app, Class Dojo.

In a survey of technology for newcomers, I mentioned Poll Everywhere for beginning-of-class polls. Here are 5 ways you may want to try using polls in class.

Note 1: Poll Everywhere is free and for students answering, anonymous. They can answer from laptops, tablets, or even cell phones! And their reactions to the polls, in my experience, are surprisingly energized and energizing. It’s fun for them to see their vote counted on the shifting bars, and it gives you a “meta-text” to discuss – not only the student’s reaction to a text or an event, and also, students’ reactions to the reactions!

Note 2: I suggest using Polls as the final step in a FTW (First Thing Work). I’ll spare you the details of each question. Read them for approach, rather than for specific content.

Note 3: In every case, you can:

A: Ask for students to explain their own answer, in discussion or partners.

B: Ask for students to speculate about why the class as a whole answered with whatever trends they answered.

Example 1: “In the video you watched as homework, Darren Brown did some pretty amazing things in a small town in England. Which of these most closely matches your reaction?”

  1. It was inspiring.

  2. It was appalling.

  3. It was somewhere in between.

  4. Something else.

Then, for 5 minutes, students explain their answer in writing. Then, discuss why students wrote what they wrote.

Example 2: I found today’s review session games:

1. Helpful, fun, and worth doing.

2. Helpful but not fun. Try a different approach.

3. Fun but not helpful. Try a different approach.

4. Hated it.

5. Something else.

Then, offer the chance for students to comment.

Example 3:  I found today’s all school assembly:

  1. Interesting and relevant to my life.
  2. Interesting but not relevant to my life.
  3. Relevant to my life but not interesting.
  4. Neither interesting nor relevant.
  5. Wasn’t there.
  6. Slept the whole time.
  7. Offensive.

Then, offer the chance for students to comment.

Example 4: Is your relationship with your parents:

  1. Almost always harmonious.

  2. Mostly harmonious with periods of conflict.

  3. Mostly conflict with periods of harmony.

  4. Almost always full of conflict.

  5. Something else.

Then, offer the chance for students to comment.

Example 5:  Did you find the narrator in the story:

1. Mostly sympathetic?

2. Mostly unsympathetic?

3. Right down the middle?

4. Didn’t read it. Life is busy, yo!

Then, offer the chance for students to comment.