Some of you will be aware of Socrative already but, even if you are, you may not have actually tried it out in class. I learned about it from Paul Forster (@forstersensei) at the English Australia PD Fest in March, but only very recently got my first chance to use it with students. It’s a ‘student response system’, which means that you can get the students to respond to questions, tasks, quizzes using their mobile phones and all their responses can be quickly displayed in various forms on the screen for the whole class to see. Perhaps the best way to explain it is to describe how I used it in class recently.
I was filling in for a teacher on Pre-Intermediate General English and we were doing an exercise from the coursebook which required students to discuss a series of second conditional questions.
The first part of the activity I did as normal:
- I asked the students to stand up, bring their books and gather in the middle of the room.
- We talked through the questions together and checked any unclear/unfamiliar language.
- Students discussed the questions in pairs. I circulated, monitored and interrupted where necessary to give feedback.
At this point, I would usually write some of the things I heard up on the whiteboard and talk together about what was good, how we could correct any errors, etc. In this case, though, I decided to use Socrative. Watch this video to see how it works.
If you want to try something like this out in class, you’ll need to set up an account in advance (it’s completely free and easy to do).
- I asked the students how many of them had phones that could access the internet – 10 out of 12 did. I paired the two students who didn’t up with students who did.
- I asked them to open up m.socrative.com using their phone’s web browser. They did this without any problems.
- As the students were opening up Socrative, I logged in as a teacher and selected a ‘Short Answer’ activity from the teacher’s menu.
- The students then ‘joined’ my Socrative ‘room’ using my unique room number.
- I then asked the students one of the second conditional questions from the NEF speaking task, e.g. ‘What would you do if someone offered to buy you a fur coat?’
- The students typed their responses into their phones.
- Gradually, all the students’ responses were displayed on the screen for everyone to read – you can see these in the image below.
- Next, I asked the students to vote on the responses by selecting on their phones the response they found most interesting/amusing/etc.
- The results of the vote were displayed on the screen and we congratulated as a class the student whose response had received the most votes.
- We did this for two of the second conditional questions and then I asked students to tell me using Socrative whether they liked using it or not and why. You can see their responses in the image below.
I was actually surprised at how positively the students responded to using Socrative in class. There seemed to be quite significant effects on the students’ motivation during the activity and, from my perspective, also the quality of the language they were producing. These effects can of course be achieved without Socrative and mobile phones, but, for me, this experience showed me clearly the potential of using mobile devices in the classroom.
Two interesting points to note from the images above:
- I don’t know what ‘kick ur joint’ means – perhaps because of the anonymous nature of the task that particular student felt more comfortable contributing something seemingly random/irrelevant?
- Two of the students commented at the end that they didn’t have much battery life left and were perhaps worried about using it up early in the day.