A classroom of kids raising their voices and paying close attention to their phones doesn’t sound like a class that’s doing anything productive, right?
Under normal circumstances, this classroom would seem in complete chaos. However, not in this case – and it’s all because of a website called Kahoot!.
Kahoot! – originally created in a partnership between Norwegian-based game company Mobitroll, and the Norwegian University of Technology and Sciences – is an online quiz game. Game participants enter a lobby created by a leader (the teacher) and answer questions that pop up on the leader’s screen using their own electronic devices.
The game is designed to engage students with a multiple-choice quiz, in which the quickest correct answer wins. It offers thousands of quizzes, ranging from math to history and even celebrity trivia.
At Country Day several teachers use Kahoot! to engage students in their own subjects.
One is Chris Kuipers, AP European History and eighth grade United States History teacher.
“I think it is an effective tool in basic content review,” Kuipers said. “The kids seem to respond really well to the competitive aspect.
“As a teacher I love that it is free; probably the only downside is that the connectivity can be a little bit glitchy at times.”
He said he more often uses it in his AP Euro class, which has only four students. The class is normally quite competitive in a healthy way, unlike his eighth grade class. His middle schoolers can have a “different vibe.”
“It can either get a little bit too competitive or (it) can get kids (to not be) as engaged, or give up,” he said.
Kuipers also said that eighth graders focus on winning the game rather than the review.
“Either students become too focused on answering as quickly as possible or on the fun names that they make,” Kuipers said. “I’m not always sure that the real virtue of using it as (a) review (tool) comes through.”
But this isn’t the way his AP class treats Kahoot!. Senior Nico Burns describes these games as “intense.”
“If you miss a question, it’s a pretty big deal,” Burns said. “The middle of each game is the most intense because that’s when the leader emerges. (Senior) Katia (Dahmani) usually comes out on top, but the games always end up being close.”
Kuipers said that at the AP level, it is valuable to use Kahoot! for two reasons. The first is that the AP test has a multiple choice section, and Kahoot! is perfect practice for that. The second is that the students are in general more mature and treat it as a way to learn. Burns agreed and said that it is an incentive to prepare days before an exam.
Oddly enough, however, Kuipers has noticed that the student who normally comes in last in Kahoot! has the highest grade on tests.
“It may be that the student is learning a lot from Kahoot!, but I think it speaks more to the fact that Kahoot! puts such an emphasis on the timing, and you get more points for answering quickly,” Kuipers said.
“Kahoot! is one tool, and I think it’s really good for that fun, fast-paced kind of jumping in (to answer questions). But as something to replicate a thoughtful quiz with, that’s not what it is.”
Elissa Thomas, who teaches computer science and geometry, uses the game too.
“It’s just a really fun way to go over content that we’ve covered in class but also get instant feedback,” she said.
Thomas said that Kahoot! is a good indicator of how well her students are grasping concepts.
An example is the question “Which of the theorems prove these triangles are congruent?”
Below is a picture of two triangles and four answers: “side-angle-side theorem,” “angle-side-angle theorem,” “hypotenuse leg theorem” or “not congruent.”
While Thomas likes the game’s teaching aspect, sophomore Chris Wilson (who took geometry last year) likes the competitive aspect.
“It gives people a reason – other than to learn – to pay attention,” he said.
Thomas said she has seen a mix of reactions, such as yelling to dancing in their seats from happiness or dismay.
Senior Miles Edwards echoed these observations and said that his classmates in AP Computer Science A “are extremely competitive, cheer and yell.”
Like Thomas, chemistry teacher Victoria Conner has used the game for review but in a slightly different way.
She has students make up their own questions and provide four possible answers.
“It was useful because not only did the students have to write a reasonable chemistry question and provide a correct answer, but they also had to come up with a few plausible incorrect answers, which required them to actually understand the concept as well as how the concept could be misconstrued,” she said.
Conner said that she also likes the user-friendliness of Kahoot! and the fun aspects of usernames.
“I like that students can have a little fun with their usernames and how excited students get when the question that they made comes on the screen,” she said.
Dahmani said that her AP Euro class selects usernames that relate to the time period they’re studying. For example, during their unit on the French Revolution, Dahmani’s name was “Marat,” a French revolutionary of the era, her sister senior Annya was “Antoinette,” and junior Mehdi Lacombe was “Louis XVI.”
—By Spencer Scott