Poll the Class

Increase opportunities to hear students' voices, support them to demonstrate learning, and receive feedback
74 teachers like this strategy

About This Strategy

In this strategy, teachers learn to create a prompt and poll the class in order to afford learners the opportunity to share their voice, their learning, and their feedback. The poll can be used to start an activity, launch a discussion, or used as a formative assessment. Having students respond to a poll can increase engagement while enabling all students' voices to be heard. Students can justify their responses after the data is shown.

Implementation Steps

30 minutes
  1. Think about the objective of the poll. Are you using the poll to activate knowledge? Launch a discussion? Provide formative assessment data?

  2. Based on the objective, create a poll that will support this objective.

  3. Determine how students will respond to the poll.

    • Will students write on whiteboards? Will students respond using technology? Will students use a post-it note system?

    • It is important to create an efficient system so that this instructional routine runs smoothly and quickly.

  4. Introduce the poll to students. Model how to respond.

  5. Based on the objective, use the data in a specific way.

    • If you are using the poll to activate knowledge, align the lesson to the data.

    • If you are using the poll to launch a discussion, provide students with discussion prompts.

    • If you are using the poll as formative assessment, use the assessment to determine what students understand and use the data to guide your instruction.

  6. Continue to implement polls in the classroom as an instructional strategy.

If you are using this as an Open Up Instructional Routine in a lesson, locate the Instructional Routine within a lesson and determine where in the lesson (often the warm-up or lesson synthesis) it is implemented and how it it is being used.

Explore more about this strategy in the Open Up Math (OUR)  8th Grade Poll the Class or 6th Grade Poll the Class. These resources require a login, which is free to sign up for.

Distance Learning Use Case for Polling the Class

Kelly Kennefick
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

Students can share their voice, learning, and feedback when teachers Poll the Class. Polls can be used to launch synchronous learning time, to assess student understanding, or for teachers to receive feedback from students. However, students can still engage in polls when working asynchronously.

Implementation Steps:

  1. Determine the purpose of the poll. 

    • Will the poll be used to activate learning? Assess student understanding? To gather feedback?

  2. Based on the purpose, create the question for your poll.

  3. Determine how students will engage with the Poll during the live session.

    • For a non-tech option, provide the Poll in the packet students complete. Ensure that the data is given back in a timely fashion (e.g. by dropping the packet off or potentially emailing/texting you their responses if possible).  Be sure to follow up with the student after the data has been collected.

    • If students are working asynchronously, consider how they will access and complete the poll.

  4. Determine the tool you will use to Poll the Class.

    • If you meet via Zoom, consider using the Zoom Polling Feature. This feature is available to Zoom Education Plans.

    • Consider exploring digital tools, such as Google Forms if students are working asynchronously.

  5. Introduce the Poll the Class strategy to students. Be sure to set explicit norms and expectations for the poll. It is helpful for students to understand why they are engaging with the poll. 

    • If students are working asynchronously, consider how you will introduce this strategy. Consider providing a video explaining the strategy or, if available, use live class time to explain the strategy. 

      • Be sure to set explicit norms and expectations for the poll. It is helpful for students to understand why they are engaging with the poll. 

  6. Launch the poll.
    • If students are working asynchronously, send the poll to students via your LMS or email. Remind students when the poll must be completed by. 
  7. Collect student data. ​​​​​​​

  8. Use the data to tailor or iterate instruction.

    • If you are using the poll to activate knowledge, align the lesson to the data.

    • If you are using the poll to launch a discussion, provide students with discussion prompts.

    • If you are using the poll as a formative assessment, use the assessment to determine what students understand and use the data to guide your instruction.

    • If you are using the poll to gather feedback, share the feedback and changes with students in a future class.

    • If you are using the poll asynchronously as a formative assessment, use the assessment to determine what students understand and use the data to guide your instruction. Provide additional practice to students on topics that they have not yet mastered.

  9. Share the data with learners during a live session or in some way if students are completing the poll asynchronously. 

    • If you meet live, consider highlighting the data during that time.

    • If you are unable to meet live, consider creating a quick video to share with students.

    • When sharing the data, explain any impact the data has had (e.g. changes if you requested feedback or additional practice if you assessed understanding and saw it was needed).

Open Up Math: Polling the Class Instructional Routine

The Open Up Curriculum uses the instructional routine, Polling the Class, to enable students to provide initial responses or estimates to prompts. To learn more about the OUR instructional routine, consult the OUR Polling the Class Overview.

Implementation steps:

  1. Locate lessons that include Polling the Class as an instructional routine. Remember you need to sign up for a free account to access OUR resources. Two specific lesson plans are:
  2. Read the lesson plan and determine how to utilize Polling the Class to support students to provide initial responses or estimates to prompts.

  3. OUR suggests putting boundaries and asking students for responses that are too low or too high if estimates feel daunting.OUR explains that putting boundaries is important for mathematical modeling (MP4).

  4. Determine how you will collect data and launch the poll.

  5. Consider using a tech tool, such as Poll Everywhere, to quickly collect data.

  6. Follow the lesson plan to build on the poll.

  7. Justifying why students responded in each way can support students to practice use precise math language and support students to grow in their ability to reason mathematically.

Polling the Class to Enhance Communication

Polling the Class can be used to launch discussions or provide students with opportunities to communicate with their peers.

Implementation steps:

  1. Determine the purpose of communication by asking yourself the following questions: Will my students have a whole-class discussion? Will students justify their thinking with one another? In writing?
  2. Launch the poll and collect students' responses. One example of this is the OUR Poll. Consider using a tech tool, such as Poll Everywhere, to quickly collect data.
  3. After launching the poll, have students engage in a discussion for the chosen purpose. Be sure to have students justify their thinking.
    • Have students engage in a Think-Pair-Share to respond to one of the prompts above.

    • Have students engage in a discussion based on the results. Some ideas for prompts include:

      • What do you notice or wonder about the responses?

      • What trends do you notice? What do you think these mean?

      • Why do you think the results are evenly spread across the choices?

      • What does the data teach you? What is still unknown?

      • How does this data relate to today's learning target?

Polling the Class to Assess and Receive Student Feedback

Polls can be an engaging way to assess student understanding.

Implementation steps:

  1. Determine the learning target that you want to assess or feedback you want to receive from students and construct a prompt.
  2. Determine how students will respond to the poll. Consider using a tech tool, such as Poll Everywhere, to quickly collect data.
  3. Launch the prompt as a poll and collect students' responses.
  4. Use the data to guide your instruction and support students to master content.

Special Education Modification

Nedra Massenburg
Special Education Specialist

Creating prompts to poll the class supports students with disabilities by providing a safe, structured opportunity to engage in a lesson and develop their reflection and assessment skills.

Polling the class requires teachers to prepare for the skills required of students, specifically significant executive functioning (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.) and written expression skills.  In order to support students with disabilities in these areas, consider the following modifications:

Modifications:

  1. Use visual aids, timers, and verbal reminders to help students with task initiation and task completion when polling the class.  Depending upon the number of students with disabilities present in a classroom, teachers should consider increasing the amount of time they spend on explicitly teaching norms of how polls will be used in class.

  2. Consider using written, verbal and movement-based methods to poll the class to give learners multiple methods to respond to prompts to check for understanding. See the "Self-Reflection Tool Examples" resource in the resource section for more information.

EL Modification

Shannon Coyle
English Learner Specialist

English learners will benefit from the use of polling because it affords them opportunities to utilize their academic language skills as they are asked to convey their learning in a variety of ways. Teachers are able to monitor English learners’ use of academic language to express learning alongside their progress towards content mastery. 

English learners may be asked to use all four domains of language, reading, writing, speaking, and listening during any given polling activity. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:

Modifications:

  1. Differentiate response formats based on language level. Provide a variety of ways for learners at lower levels of proficiency to express learning including drawing, short phrases, matching words and pictures, multiple choice, and cloze exercises. Utilize data about learners’ language levels to determine appropriate response formats. Consider consulting learners’ language specialist. See the "Can Do" Descriptors resource in the resource section below for more information.
  2. Provide English learners with familiar reference sheets such as graphic organizers, word banks, sentence stems, formula sheets, etc., to use as needed during polling activities.

  3. Preview or provide advanced time to prepare. Learners at lower levels of proficiency may benefit from advanced knowledge of polling topics in order to engage fully when polling activities include discussions or new to learner topics. For example, a leveled reading homework assignment before a poll that introduces a new concept,  vocabulary or word work that is aligned with the polling topic or brainstorming graphic organizers to prepare ideas in writing to use with class-wide discussion frames. 

Questions to Consider

  • How can you ensure that students do not copy their peers' responses?

  • How could polls be implemented in your classroom to reach a desired outcome? How can they increase engagement?

Tech Tools

Poll Everywhere

  • Poll Everywhere is an online tool that enables immediate interactive polling. Teachers can utilize different polling structures using a specific prompt. Poll Everywhere enables live audience participation while immediate aggregating data that can be projected to the class.

  • Poll Everywhere supports this strategy by providing teachers with a tool for polling the class and immediately receiving the data. Using this tech tool can make it easier for students to respond and for teachers to collect responses.