Polling the Class

Increase opportunities to hear student voice by polling the class with a specific prompt
25 teachers like this strategy

About This Strategy

Teachers create a prompt and poll the class. 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.

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:

  • 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:
  • Read the lesson plan and determine how to utilize Polling the Class to support students to provide initial responses or estimates to prompts.

    • 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).

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

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

    • Follow the lesson plan to build on the poll.

      • 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:

  • Determine the purpose of communication:
    • Will you have a whole-class discussion?

    • Will students justify their thinking with one another? In writing?

    • 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.

    • After launching the poll, have students engage in communication for the chosen purpose.

      • Have students justify why they answered in a certain way.

      • 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?

      • Have students engage in a Think-Pair-Share to respond to one of the prompts above.

    • Have students share out what they have learned from the results by engaging in a discussion.

Polling the Class to Assess

Polls can be an engaging way to assess student understanding.

Implementation steps:

  • Determine the learning target that you want to assess and construct a prompt.
    • Determine how students will respond to the poll.

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

    • Launch the prompt as a poll and collect students' responses.

    • Use the data to guide your instruction and support students to master content.

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.