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12 Apr 2018

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Kahoot! in special education: how to make every student shine

In every student, there’s a secret classroom superhero waiting to be unleashed. Learn how special ed teacher Shari Stinnette helps every student shine using Kahoot!

This is my 9th year as a special education teacher. For the last two years, I’ve been using Kahoot!, and it made a big difference for my learners and me. It gives me many ways to make the class more inclusive and impactful for my students, playing to their unique strengths and helping them overcome challenges.

The students in my class are quite diverse. Some have a handful of sight words and others read on a 3rd grade level. Some of my students use limited conversation skills while others can speak for a long time on a favorite topic. The beauty of Kahoot! is that with the right support, I can have ALL my learners participating.

Playing Kahoot! in special education class

Fun combined with substantial learning impact

Basically, I’m a self-contained classroom. I use Kahoot! in a variety of ways to introduce content, activate students, reinforce knowledge, train to apply it in practice. For example, we learn new vocabulary by playing image-rich quizzes in class. For reinforcement of knowledge, I really like Kahoot! challenges that allow learners to play at their own pace.

I love Kahoot! because my students are ALWAYS happy when we use it!

Kahoot! is a motivating way for them to be exposed to material over and over - they’re having fun and learning at the same time.

I have noticed a dramatic increase in engagement in the past two years that I’ve been using Kahoot! Here’s a very inspiring example of one particular student. Last year, he required a great deal of assistance in order to participate in kahoots. This year, he gets his journal out with his notes and independently finds the answers. Also, Kahoot! has played a huge role in improving his spelling: before, I used to type in the nickname for him, but now he learned a good deal of new words because he wants them to be in his Kahoot! nickname!

Using Kahoot! for formative assessment

The learning impact is quite easy to measure, which greatly helps me as a teacher. Downloading reports from Kahoot! games, I get data that helps me give formative assessment grades for my students, as well as track our progress towards IEP (Individualized Education Program) goals.

I am able to structure quiz questions in such a way that I can check on student learning for different goals. For example, in our vocabulary kahoots, some questions include visuals and others don’t. I need to track progress for each type of question for different students. I save and analyze the results from these kahoots to get accurate percentages.

“I like winning!”: students’ comments

My students like Kahoot! because it’s fun, competitive and paperless. Here’s what they said when I asked them why they enjoy playing:

- It's challenging. - I can do it on the tablet. - I like winning! - It’s fun because it's a game.

There are a few students in my class who often end up in the top 3 whenever we play a kahoot. One day my paraprofessionals and I were floored when a certain student came out in 1st place. This student had never won in that class before! He was so proud of himself and we all celebrated his success. Even my most competitive student who really dislikes losing was happy when this student won.

How to make your kahoot even more inclusive

As I mentioned, with the right support, your kahoot can be universally inclusive. Here are some tips that I’d highlight:

  • For gen ed teachers with special education students included, consider reading the questions out loud and extending the timer to at least 90 seconds.
  • Allow special education students access to notes or other materials that would allow them to find the answer if they haven’t memorized it yet.
  • Include pictures as much as possible to help students remember the information or find it in their notes.
  • It’s not always about content mastery – use Kahoot! to reinforce more basic skills, too! The goal of some kahoots can be as simple as to teach students how to type in their own name or identify colors or shapes. He or she can still participate by having someone tell him or her to select the blue choice or the circle, for example. This allows the student to be involved with everyone else, but the skills being practiced are different for that student.

If you’re looking for ways to make your class more inclusive and personalize learning – you should definitely try Kahoot!