Those of you that read my blog or have attended my workshops you have heard me talk about or use Poll Everywhere. Poll Everywhere is a free service that allows you to collect responses from an audience via text messaging. Teachers can publish a question and students respond by texting their answers. The results are immediately available for viewing online.
This is a great tool for assessing student understanding without having to signal out who does not understand a topic in a class by asking students to raise their hands or respond out loud to your question. As a teacher you receive immediate information regarding student comprehension and can adjust your instruction at that moment. In our district we will be allowing student owned devices in our classrooms this year. The use of these devices will be 100% at the teachers discretion. We will also have wireless internet in all of our schools. The barriers to entry for this type of technology use have greatly improved!
There is a feature in Poll Everywhere that was just brought to my attention in Richard Byrne's recent blog posting. If you collect open ended responses you can view those responses in one of the three most popular word cloud services. This is a really great feature that has a lot of benefits. Word clouds are a collection of words found in any text based document, site etc.. The words are organized in a variety of designs. The words that are used the most are largest in size.
This type of visualization offers a quick summary of results, a single visual of responses and a number of conversation starters. To learn more about ways to use word clouds in the classroom please visit my wiki page on the topic.