Socrative to aid discussions

What I used

As I drove to school this morning, I was looking forward to my warm classroom with its underfloor heating. However, when I arrived, it very quickly became apparent that the heating was off (it was 14 degrees Celsius!) and that I couldn’t teach in my room. I wanted to finish off our book ‘Millions’ and encourage my pupils to ask pupils about the main themes and characters for my first morning lesson. So, off we went to the hall. Armed with an iPad in one arm and book in the other, the children sat on PE mats as I plugged my laptop into the hall’s projector.
I decided to use Socrative. Socrative is a useful app which, ‘through the use of real time questioning, instant result aggregation and visualization”, enables the teacher to gauge their pupils’ understanding.

(www.socrative.com)

What I did

Firstly, I wrote up my key question If you could ask Damian any question, what would it be? Each group had to come up with a different question and these were all shown on our screen in real time. Helpfully, you are able to see how many pupils have logged in to Socrative and responded to the question. After all the pupils responded to my question, we were able to read through each one and, for some of them, ask the pupil what made them think of their question. I then pressed the ‘Vote’ button which allowed all the pupils to decide upon a question they wished to discuss. As children voted, it showed the percentage of pupils that voted for each question. I then allowed pupils to choose any of the top three questions and then they had a ten minute discussion around the question. To aid their discussion, I encourage children to use sentence starters such as ‘I think..’ or ‘I disagree with what you said because..’.

Pros and Cons
Socrative can be used on both iPads and laptops which means you don’t have to have a class pack of iPads to make it work. It has a quick questions section and you can put up ‘True/False’, Short answer questions or multiple choice. Although I mainly used short answer questions today, I found the ‘True/False’ also helpful and aided discussion. There is also an option to write your own multiple choice quiz where you can explain why one particular answer is the correct one.

There is both a teacher’s app and a student’s app for Socrative. I would suggest only putting the students app onto the iPads and putting the website onto your laptop. This makes it easier to manage and stops pupils from setting up their own account too.

I found that for a few children, there iPad did not sync with the question that I sent. However, this was quickly solved by refreshing the question from my laptop or the pupil logging off and logging back on again.

If it is compared with PingPong it easily comes out on top as the children can see the questions or text in the multiple choice boxes. Nevertheless, I do miss the pie-chart that PingPong provides.

Did it Maximize Learning?
During this lesson, I found that all the pupils were engaged-after all, they did choose the questions that they were discussing! I also found that I could simply ask ‘Why did you write that question?’ or ‘Can someone explain why they think yes?’ I would use Socrative again. After Christmas I aim to use it to generate ideas for a Philosophy for Children session.

Discussion
Have you used Socrative before? If so, in what context and how did it help you achieve your objective? Did it help maximize learning for your class or was it too much of a hassle? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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