Feedback is essential to creating purposeful professional learning experiences. Why not use a method to receive it immediately, allowing you to know more about the participants and what their thoughts and needs are. Even better, displaying real-time feedback from participants during professional learning is easy to do.
Recently, I was introduced to a real-time feedback tool called AnswerGarden. This is an easy to use poll creator that can be linked through class websites, blogs, or other online applications. Simply type in a short question then copy the link to your site and watch what happens. AIMS Facilitator Heather Unger, a math coach in Madera, California is using it in her PLC sessions with teachers. She finds it’s a nice way to receive feedback that gets displayed in 20-40 character answers while you collaborate. As per the application’s name, the feedback is shown in a randomly displayed word garden.
For teachers, AnswerGarden is a tool for engaging in a collaborative process, enabling them to progress, enrich, and develop their knowledge and practice. Using this tool is a relevant and meaningful way for participants to try something new, and gives them an opportunity to contextualize how they will best use it. It is also an opportunity for them to develop cognitively, which presents new challenges and leads them to new ideas.
The possibilities are endless for AnswerGarden in the classroom. From finding out what students are thinking mathematically or scientifically, or as a way to build creative fluency. You might ask students to type in an adjective, noun, or part of speech for language review. Learning about states? Students can type in attributes associated with that particular state. Studying plants? Students can type in processes associated with plant growth. Studying fractions? On your interactive whiteboard add vocabulary terms associated with fractions to your AnswerGarden, embed your question on your website or wiki, or share a direct link with them by email. Finished polls can be exported to Wordle or Tagxedo, making great word gardens for printing and displaying.
Trying something new is challenging, but using AnswerGarden makes that challenge worth it.