A blind Kahoot!’ing Odyssey: the story of a Classics teacher

How do you make such challenging subjects as Latin, Ancient Greek and Ancient History more engaging? We interviewed Classics teacher Deborah Dicks to ask about her experience.

September 28, 2017

Deborah Dicks teaches Latin, Ancient Greek, Ancient History and Classical Civilization in The Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe, UK. Epic subjects if ever we saw them – and definitely not simple! Yet, Deborah manages to get her class really engaged and excited about them. We interviewed her to find out what the secret is.

Antigone

Deborah, let’s start with a high-level question – how did technology find its way into your classroom – game-based tools in particular?

I believe there should be room for fun in the classroom. This is why gamification has a huge role in my teaching. Pupils learn best when they are enjoying themselves, and games help with this. I have always tried to create games (usually with hand-drawn bits of card), but Kahoot! made this so much easier.

Technology also helps with getting instant feedback. I need it to assess progress and adjust teaching accordingly. On top of that, it helps instill confidence in pupils and to analyze their strengths and weaknesses.

What are the main use cases for Kahoot! in your class?

Kahoot! gives me an ideal way to assess pupils’ knowledge of vocabulary and grammar, instant feedback so that I can deal with areas of weakness, and even to introduce new topics through blind Kahoots. In addition to vocabulary and grammar quizzes, we also play Jumble kahoots for dates or the chronological order of events in the books we study.

The key difference between Kahoot! and any other quiz is that the pupils don’t see it as a test. Unlike tests, they want to do a kahoot! Unlike tests, they ask me to do a kahoot! I can’t think of any other AFL tool that creates such excitement amongst the pupils.

We know you’re quite a big fan of blind Kahoot!’ing. What’s your take on this special way to play Kahoot!?

I weave in blind Kahoot!’ing into the class for better dynamics and impact. For instance, I might start the class with a kahoot which has questions that relate to previous lessons. This gets the buzz going and builds up confidence for the next game. Which is – I introduce something they don’t know.

This could be a new term or piece of grammar. In this case, I then scatter this same question (easy with Kahoot!’s duplicating feature) throughout the quiz. Alternatively, it could be something that they could figure out, either from a natural progression from the questions before, or from process of elimination. This means I give them a question on something they don’t know and of the four possible answer options, only one of them is a term they haven’t seen before. Again, I would repeat this later in the quiz.

 

The impact of blind Kahoot!'ing has been phenomenal! When the playing field is new and therefore levelled, everyone feels they have a chance to win. And, of course, it taps into their analytical and critical thinking.

Deborah Dicks, Classics Teacher, The Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe, UK

It doesn’t just have to be educational in the traditional sense. In the first week of school, I used blind Kahoot!’ing for an icebreaker activity. I created a quiz based on little-known facts pupils shared with me and some facts about myself. It certainly elicited some great conversations in the form room!

You’re definitely an advanced Kahoot!’er, and so are your students! Do they create their own games?

Yes! They work as individuals or competing teams. I ask them to come up with a designated number of questions on a topic. These could be either assessment questions or their own form of blind Kahoot! questions. They share questions and answers with me, and I set up the quiz.

This works wonders – the pupils have to put thought into the questions and it is often quite illuminating to see what they choose as difficult questions. When I see what they find difficult, I get food for thought for planning the next lesson.

They also have to make sure they can identify the correct answers and so take ownership for their own learning. But the most instructive element is in their choosing of the wrong answers – those should look real, too so they have to think really carefully and be very specific in their knowledge in order to decide on the real answer and the almost-real answer.

Indeed, coming up with the “right” wrong answers is a quest for knowledge by itself. What do your students think?

I recently ran a survey about the tools we use, and they voted for Kahoot! as their favorite! Here’s a quote from one of my pupils that sums it up nicely:

Kahoot has allowed me to explore the depths of Latin and has brought a competitive edge to the lessons.

Year 11 Latin student

We use another piece of software where pupils can earn points which they can use to buy class rewards, and one of those rewards they chose is… You guessed it! That they can ask me to do another kahoot!

And it’s not just the pupils who love it. I sometimes run PD sessions on using IT in the classroom. When we reach the Kahoot! part of the demonstration, all of my carefully-orchestrated timings go out the window as the adults (teachers) are so excited and all want to finish the game.

You’ve tried a good deal of tools currently available. Why would you say Kahoot! is your favorite?

Correct, I have tried many different types of educational software, and while many are good, Kahoot! is one I use most. It involves all pupils; even the shyer pupils are comfortable with having a go, perhaps more comfortable than they would be with putting up their hands to answer a question.

Kahoot! makes starters and plenaries more exciting, gives me an engaging way to introduce new topics/concepts/words, and provides me with INSTANT feedback. I can stop on each question and see the distribution of answers which gives me a good overall sense of class understanding instantly, and can then explain that question if it is obviously causing difficulties.

Working with data in Kahoot! is easy and flexible. In fact, the ease of use of Kahoot! has to be one of the things that makes it superior to other software out there.

Thanks for an interesting conversation, Deborah! We’re really thrilled to hear how masterfully you combine all those creative ways to Kahoot!

Do you teach Classics? Have a look at Deborah’s kahoots and get some inspiration for your next games!

Odyssey Jumble

The order that events are told in the book is NOT the order in which they happened. For these questions, you must put events in either book or chronological order.

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