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21 Nov 2017

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Finding the formula of joy and engagement in science classes

Combine knowledge with excitement and multiply by the grade of competitiveness: Nancy Foote shares her formula for maximum engagement in science classes.

It feels like I’ve always known about Kahoot! It has long become an ingrained habit. I can’t remember where and when I found it, but I can remember the first time I tried it with my students.

That first time, I used an existing kahoot I found on the platform. I was stunned with the incredible excitement and joy among my students. And it was not just the kids: I remember how my principal walked into the classroom with a guest, and they pulled out their phones to join the game!

What has that engagement factor, that I-have-to-be-a-part-of-this excitement? Kahoot! does.

Kahoot! mobile app: make homework awesome illustration

Finding the engagement formula with Kahoot!

I love getting my students emotionally entangled in what we are studying. With physics, that’s pretty easy, except when it’s time to review for a district or state test. Before I discovered Kahoot!, I felt I was somewhat limited in getting the kids caught up in the learning. Back then, I thought about doing a jeopardy-like game, but knew the kids were tired of that. Fortunately, I found Kahoot! and figured out that engagement formula I was missing!

One of the things I value the most about Kahoot! is how flexible it is. I can use it to introduce a topic, to reinforce a topic, to review acquired knowledge, as a ticket out the door, and now as a homework assignment.

I’m so excited that Kahoot! is staying ahead of the game responding to teachers’ needs - for example, the new app and challenges for homework.

Nancy Foote, science and math rock star teacher

How to adjust class dynamics

Being able to adjust the thinking time in each question is a great way to change dynamics in the class, depending on the expected learning outcome. For example, I sometimes set up my kahoots in team mode, allowing each individual student to play as a team. This way, I give them more time to think before submitting the answer.

Since I teach physics, sometimes my students need time to do calculation before deciding on an answer. Kahoot! give me the option of doing a lightning-speed round, or a thinking round. Both are highly effective and both help me move students’ thinking forward.

Now it’s the students’ turn!

It’s not just me who creates kahoots in the class. My kids do too. I added an extra touch of gamification to this, and it works great! I came up with a classroom incentive system that involves the use of rewards called FooteNotes. The kids can earn them in many different ways and they can also use them for different rewards.

When I was on medical leave, one of the FooteNote challenges I posted to my 8th graders was to write their own kahoots. Based on each week’s content, they could submit questions with answers and distractors, and I would then put them in a bonus kahoot.

It was a win-win for me and my students. It helped me because my energy level was poor and I didn’t think I could keep up with making new kahoots around every week’s content. My students enjoyed creating games, and I rewarded them with FooteNotes. They felt like they were contributing, and helping me with my cancer fight.

Don’t forget the data

With 180 students daily, it’s not easy to keep track of who has mastered what content. Being able to look at the data when a kahoot is finished helps me guide future instruction. So, reporting is definitely one of my favorite features in Kahoot!

Being able to look at the data when a kahoot is finished helps me guide future instruction.

Nancy Foote, science and math rock star teacher

If you’re not Kahoot!’ing in your classroom yet, my main tip would be – try it, and you’ll figure out your own formula for joy and engagement in no time.