Use a Coordinate Axis PollEverywhere Question to Start Engaging Conversations in Class

Last week I learned from Derek Bruff that I can create a scatterplot x-y coordinate axis poll in PollEverywhere. I've been using these graphs to stimulate conversations in class about guest speakers, readings, and even the podcast Serial.   Multiple choice and free response questions and even the newer discourse feature of PollEverywhere allow students to express opinions, but there is something about dropping a pin on a plane that allows for nuance of expression. With coordinate axis polls, I can challenge my students to assess a writer's bias, a speaker's believability, a story's dynamics, an essay's coherence,  etc.  Here's how I do it:

Step 1: Create the x-y axis graph

Using directional arrows and some text boxes in Word, I place oppositional words at the top and bottom of the y-axis and left and right of the x-axis. I take a screenshot, and then upload the .jpg as a clickable image to PollEverywhere. 

Step 2: Deploy the poll and freeze the screen (or "hide click markers") 

I make the poll full-screen and project it for student view.  Students can navigate to the poll on their smartphones or computers.  You can allow them to drop multiple pins, but for this exercise, I limit them to a single pin.  They read the question and drop a pin.   Was the keynote speaker very relatable but just a bit vague? Was she hyper-detailed but not relatable to the teenage audience?

Step 3: Small group share

Students share their screens with a nearby peer or two and justify the exact placement of their pin on the x-y axis. I invite students to share their answers in pairs or triads for just 2-3 minutes before returning to the large group.

Step 4: Large group share

I then ask students to share the profits of their small group discussions. You may even ask them to predict where most of the pins will appear when you unfreeze the poll. Perhaps a particular quadrant.  PollEv allows you to designate a square as the "correct" answer if you wish.

Step 5: Unfreeze screen (or "Show Click Markers")

PollEverywhere has a button that allows you to reveal or conceal the dropped pins, so a teacher can either "freeze" the screen (using the remote for the projector) or simply select the pin icon to show/hide the dropped pins.

Here are some examples from this week of teaching. Notice how clustering of viewpoint may occur. Students can be randomly called upon to stand and justify their pin's placement. Students could move to the four quadrants of the classroom to represent the quadrants of the coordinate axis graph and continue the conversation that way.

Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bias and Thoroughness in the reporting of Sarah Koenig in the hit podcast Serial

Relatability and Detail in a character's experience in Cormac McCarthy's The Road

How do you use continua or scatterplot data to help students investigate the grays of seemingly black and white questions?

PollEverywhere Icebreaker Poll Contest

PollEverywhere ran a contest last week: create the most engaging "icebreaker" poll to warm up an audience or classroom waiting for a presentation.  By entering this contest, I learned that this early student response system had more bells and whistles than I had realized prior.  Some 

  • GIFs: You can insert an animated .gif file into a poll question and scale its size (thumbnail to entire background image)
  • Images as answers: In lieu of text, you can insert an image (.jpg, .png, .gif) as a possible correct answer to a poll question
  • Fonts & Colors: You can manipulate the typeface of each poll element as well as the background color
  • Omit: You can delete elements like poll instructions
  • Clickable image: Users can touch an area of an image (map, chart, graph, table, art) as a correct answer. (See how I used clickable images in this interview I did with PollEv last month.)

I shared my two entries with my classes, and they were mildly hopeful that I had a shot at one of the prizes.  Last week I was informed that the Jaws poll I made would be featured in a list of other "ice breaker" polls, but, alas, I was not a winner, but my colleague @MrLBCP received an honorable mention for his Family Guy-inspired poll.

Entry #1: Jaws  (click for live poll)

Entry #2: Top Gun (click for live poll)

Both of these polls contain animated gifs. Click links above to see.  Do you have a go-to icebreaker poll?