Moving from middle school to high school this year was an enthusiasm culture shock. For example, in middle school, I had to use Popsicle sticks to limit student participation in class. Many middle school students wanted to answer every question, and I wanted everyone to have a chance to participate. In high school, I had to use Popsicle sticks in order to encourage student participation. Silence can be deafening, especially at the beginning of the year and always on Mondays.
I do not prefer a silent classroom on a daily basis. I also prefer that my students talk more than me. So, since my move to high school, I have been endlessly searching for activities that engaged everyone WHILE they were doing math. I tried games, stations, trasketball, speed dating, group work on big white boards, gallery walks, tinker toys, conic cards, Nearpod, Plickers, CANDY and just about anything else you can think of this year to get high school kids ENGAGED and EXCITED (about math work). While they have liked many of my crazy activities this year, they did not love anything until Kahoot!
Playing Kahoot is the most fun I have had in my classroom in AGES. Kahoot! is an online multiple choice game where students play against their classmates. I project the questions from my computer, and they select from four choices on their device. Students can use iPhones, iPads, or a computer. Students can also work together and share devices if they do not have enough individual devices. They do not see the question on their device, only the answer choice. As students answer a visual timer counts down and the number of students that have answered pop up on the overhead screen. To increase the excitement, you can also chose to play KaHoots jeopardy sounding music.
Students get points for getting the correct answer, and even more points if they answer the question more quickly than their classmates. The top 5 students are listed on a “Leaderboard” after each question to keep the competition HOT.
The kids love playing Kahoot! They love playing it so much that I often have my students that aren’t even in the current period join my class during their study hall periods! Students in class have tweeted and texted out the game code. I even noticed a kid playing through the glass window of my door one day. Of course I took a picture.
Other than all of the fun for the kids, the best part for ME is that I NEVER HAVE TO MAKE MY OWN KAHOOT. There are thousands of Kahoots! already made by excellent math teachers everywhere. This is KEY when you have a new planning or are simply overwhelmed. You just type in your topic and then can chose from dozens of premade Kahoots! on just about any topic, including Calculus!
The biggest downside to Kahoot is that the kids want to play it all of the time and beg me daily to play it.
Suggestions for fun and productive Kahooting:
- Don’t make your own Kahoot at first. In fact, I may never make my own. There are so many to borrow from! Once you duplicate a Kahoot, it is easy to edit.
- When playing Kahoot, 6 – 10 questions is best. Some kids get discouraged and give up if they fall too behind in the scores. So, instead if playing one KaHoot game with 20 questions, play two 10 question Kahoots! You will have two winners and thus more opportunities to get everyone engaged.
- I use Kahoot! as a pretest, for a quick check of their understanding of terms. and as practice problems for more rote or basic topics. The max time students have to answer a question is 120 seconds so KaHoot is not for problems that take a longer time to solve.
- Let them make up silly names. I play Kahoot! so they can have fun while doing math. And making up silly names is really a big part of this fun.
You can also embed YouTube videos into KaHoot. I videoed the kids one day and posted it to YouTube, then added it to their next KaHoot game. The next time we played, their video was what played while they were signing in. They loved it.
I have just learned about a Ghost Mode in KaHoot but haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Cathy Yeneka blogged about Ghost Mode. I can’t wait to try it in the fall!