Free automated polling http://www.polleverywhere.com
Polling provides an ideal way to both keep a class’ attention and provide a reflective activity to move information into long-term memory. Plus, it’s remarkably easy. Free websites allow you to set up polls that students take by submitting their answers via text message or on the Web. These polls are a wonderful way to engage students in the material and keep their interest. Best of all, the results appear in real time so students can see changes as they come in.
One good use of polls is to gather information about a subject before it is covered. This is especially helpful when the subject concerns information that students might not want to make public with a show of hands. For instance, a teacher could introduce a discussion of cheating on exams by asking students in a large lecture to indicate if they have every cheated on an exam. This could be used to demonstrate that cheating is more common than people think. A science instructor can ask students to guess the results of an experiment before it is conducted to generate thought and interest in the outcome. Forcing students to take a position not only creates reflection, but also commitment to results. Everyone wants their position affirmed.
Another option is to ask students for their opinions and use the results as a way of initiating a discussion on the issue. Or you could ask a simple factual question that you know most people will get wrong in order to demonstrate a widespread misconception.
Polls also can be used after content is presented as a means of generating reflection on the issue. These can be simple factual questions that demonstrate whether the students understood the material, or higher level questions that will help them to retain the material.