How do you make space and time for students to ask questions in class?

No doubt you’ve been to a teacher training session that uses the parking lot. It works, kind of. Sticky notes fall off all the time, I’m always too shy to get up front and put my question on the board, and maybe I’d like to preserve the questions and their answers after the meeting. My aim is to explore additional options.

Google Moderator

h/t to @occam98 for first showing me this tool.

What is it? Space to ask free-text questions or give feedback + a voting tool for existing questions.

How’s it work? You provide a link to students and they ask and vote on questions.

What do I need? ComputerAndroid | iPhone (no native app yet, use the mobile browser)

Cool feature: That voting feature is super-cool. It’s like bringing reddit to your classroom! But that’s not even the cool feature I want to mention here. Instead: I can post responses right there in Moderator. Students can revisit for answers, links, hints, or whatever I choose to leave for them.


At #TMC12 last week, I learned about Socrative from @colinmac10 and @ehelfant.

What is it? A student response system for anything with a web browser. (That means Socrative is useful mainly as “clickers” are. I’m bending its utility here.)

How’s it work? Direct students to and give them your room number.

What do I need? Computer | Android (teacher or student) | iPhone (teacher or student)

Cool feature: E-mailed, color-coded reports are very nice.

Poll Everywhere

I’ve known about this one forever, so I can’t remember who first told me about it. Probably someone on Twitter.

What is it? Like Socrative, a student response system. But this one uses SMS text messaging, so there’s a lower barrier of entry. I’ll bet my mom is the only one in the country who can’t text.

How’s it work? You ask a question and give a SMS short code (5 digit number). Students send a text message with their response. It’s all anonymous.

What do I need? Computer | Android | iPhone | any SMS-capable phone

You *must* check out their How it Works page. There’s a reason these guys dominate the industry.

Downside? Poll Everywhere is gonna be best when you have multiple choice questions or feedback opportunities. I haven’t seen a way to view other students’ questions and upvote them.