I hesitated when deciding to write a blog about using Kahoot in history lessons because I couldn‘t really say what this cute little tool had to do with historical thinking. What tipped the balance was the fact that my students absolutely love it – and they are all 16+ and regular users of much more sophisticated apps and games. So I thought “well, at least some critical thinking is required …“ and here goes.
First things first: it is free and it is simple. Sign up at https://getkahoot.com and you are good to go. You can choose between creating a quiz, a discussion or a survey. Needless to say, a multi-coloured quiz is my students’ favourite – and they are quite good at making one themselves as a final crescendo to a presentation in class.
Here I have created a quiz about something hugely interesting. My students use any device – phone, PC, tablet – to go to https://kahoot.it and enter the pin number they see on my big screen.
We decide if they play as individuals or teams. This time, there are only two teams, The Rock and The Glacier. We also decide how much time should be allocated to each question, depending on their nature. When I press “start” the game is on.
Images, graphs etc. can be used to add variety and levels of difficulty, all very simple in a drag-and-drop fashion.
You can see the countdown of the 20 seconds allocated and feedback is given immediately after each question, often causing much hilarity.
As can be seen from the smartphone used by Team Rock, they won and are assured that their game was “masterfully played”.
Creating a survey or a discussion is equally simple and again, the level of the activity is determined by the author. How about doing a survey on the question ‘should the presidents of the Baltic states accept Russia’s invitation to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in 2005?’ No need to reveal their decisions until afterwards (see http://www.dw.com/en/baltics-shun-moscow-wwii-celebrations/a-1511237). Or have a digital discussion on how to prepare for emigration to America in the 1880s, making good use of information from other immigrants? (Lots of stuff for this period or any other here: http://madeintoamerica.org/). Quizzes before and after a subject is treated are of course a long-standing tradition of many teachers and may now be simpler than ever. For some reason, students seem to find this so much more engaging than being given a verbal or written assignment, possibly because they appreciate the immediate feedback and the general atmosphere of playing a game. As a teacher, I welcome the change this tool offers to classroom work and that apparently it is a quite powerful instrument for recap. In that sense, it may be seen as a part of formative assessment. On the other hand, it is not possible to save the results directly and build up a database on student’s performance.
This review only touches upon the basic uses of Kahoot as it is now. Its authors have many exciting suggestions for its uses and the Kahoot-community offers 8.7 millions of ready-made quizzes etc. (NB you can choose to see only those made by teachers), many of which claim to be on history…