Kids can be pretty tough critics these days when it comes to educational games, so when I found a (free!) online game that my students love, I had to share! Kahoot is by far my students’ favorite way to review any school library lesson! (And it can be used in ANY subject area!)
How it Works
It’s unbelievably easy to get going with Kahoot. You just go to kahoot.com, set up a teacher account (free and no hassles!), and are ready to roll.
A little info you should know before we go farther: Kahoot is usually played as a whole class game. In an ideal setup, you will project the Kahoot questions on a smartboard and each child will participate by entering answers on an individual tablet, phone, or laptop. There are ways around having a device for each child, but the idea is that everyone is engaged in and participating in the same game at the same time.
So to set the scene…as soon as you start a Kahoot review game, your class starts jamming out to the fun, groovy soundtrack it plays. First, the kids will need to sign in by entering a pin on their devices that will appear on the big screen. Once everyone has signed in, a question (which could be supplemented with diagrams or graphics if you choose) will pop up on the big screen. On the bottom of the screen, up to four answer choices will appear.
The kids’ devices show four colored squares which correspond with the four answer choices on the big screen.
The children try to select the correct answer as quickly as possible and receive points for the correct response, and once everyone has answered, the big screen displays a leaderboard so the kids can keep track of who is earning the most points. The kids have each picked a “Nickname” to display in the leaderboard…which, of course, adds to the fun.
How to Prep for Your First Kahoot Session
The first step is to find or create a Kahoot quiz for your students to play. There are eleventy jillion Kahoots already out there, so it’s possible that someone else has already created a Kahoot that you can use for your students. With a quick search on site, you can find out.
If you find one that is sort of what you are looking for, but not quite, one fantastic feature is the “Duplicate” function.
This makes a copy of someone else’s Kahoot and then allows you to add and subtract as much as you would like until the Kahoot is perfect for your class. If you’d prefer to start from scratch, just click on “New K!”
and then “Quiz” and the Kahoot site will guide you through the lovely and simple process of creating your own Kahoot quiz.
Why It’s Such a Hit
The game allows for a competitive but not TOO competitive atmosphere as kids work to make it on the leaderboard. The kids’ made-up nicknames (which, don’t worry, are censored by the game!) and the funky, video-gamey music help cultivate a vibe that is relaxed and fun. And possibly the best feature is the way the game has been designed to force the whole group to look up at the big screen. Each student participates individually, but it’s a group experience, and in my classes, EVERYONE actually wants to participate and be a part of the fun.
How Teachers Are Really Using Kahoot
Kahoot can easily be used to review any subject area, and educators are utilizing it from kindergarten on up. From second grade spelling to high school physical education, the game can be customized to meet the needs of different students across the grades. In my library classes, I have used it in grades 2-5 to review information about the Dewey Decimal system, the Caldecott Award, MLA Citations, and more.
In addition to functioning as a way to review facts or concepts, Kahoot can also be used to introduce new concepts, as explained here in the Kahoot blog’s post about “blind kahoots.” I haven’t tried this method of Kahooting yet, but I’m looking forward to giving it try at some point.
The “Survey” function of Kahoot adds even more possibilities. When you want to collect data about student understanding or opinions without making it a competition, you can use Kahoot to set up survey questions. For the school-library-dwellers like me, this allows for creative possibilities like the March Madness-style book tournament that Erin from Erintegration explains in her blog. Fun fun!
What Might Go Wrong…and How to Fix It
Okay, so literally nothing out there has a 100% approval rating, and even though it’s pretty fabulous, a few of your kids might raise some objections to Kahoot. Here are a few things to watch out for and some ideas for how to combat them:
- Getting kicked out. I have had a couple of situations where some kind of sneaky internet glitch has caused a student’s Kahoot game to go kablooey. Creating a quick partnership between the kicked out kid and a neighbor usually does the trick better than trying to fix the error.
- Too much pressure. While I think the game does a nice job of creating a FRIENDLY competition, the ticking clock sound and time limits could be a bit anxiety-provoking for some of your kiddos. Turning the sound off could help, and a sneak peek at the Kahoot or a rundown of some of the questions could be a reasonable accommodation for kids who need it. I also highly enjoy the “Team Mode” of play, which gives the kids a couple of seconds of processing time before the counter starts so that they can, theoretically, discuss the answer choices with team members. During the last couple of times I have used Kahoot, I put it on Team Mode and allowed students to decide whether they wanted to work alone or with a buddy.
- Bad sportsmanship. I definitely recommend reminding kids about how to be good competitors before beginning the game. Emphasize that this is just a FUN way to review and learn, and be proactive about sharing your expectations for appropriate behavior during a Kahoot. If you think Kahoot is a tool you might use regularly, you could work with your students to come up with a Code of Conduct to be used during Kahoot time so that everyone understands the dos and don’ts of Kahoot etiquette (Kahootiquette, if I may) in your class (sorry…but c’mon, it was right there!).
It’s Time to Get Kahooting!
If you haven’t tried this fantastic tool, how about giving it a go now in preparation for the school year? Whether you are a Kahoot newbie or have been using it in your class for a while, feel free to add a note in the comments to let me know how you like it!