Sunday, May 11, 2014

What's the Big Kahoot?

Have you ever done an activity with your students where they love it so much, that they ask to do it again?  Every day?  Multiple times a day?  Meet Kahoot!  Try it once and your students will be begging for more.  Don't worry - you will happily oblige because they secret is that they are having so much fun that they don't even realize how much they are learning.

What you need: Some devices, ideally one per student.  They can use tablets, laptops, cell phones, iPods - anything that has an internet connection and a web browser.  You will also need a device for yourself as the game administrator.  Again, it can be a laptop, iPad, etc.  A Smartboard is very helpful, especially one that the students can view easily.  If your laptop is connected to the Smarboard, that will also be extremely helpful!  Speakers are not required, but the music is catchy!  They change up the suspenseful tunes every so often, but it adds to the competitive mood of the game.

To start the game: On your teacher device, you will go to  Go ahead and make a bookmark for yourself.  Click on "Get My Free Account" and follow the quick steps to set up your account.  You may want to choose a username that is easy for you to remember, especially if you want to share quizzes later.  The login screen will look like this:

On each student device, students will go to  Again, have them bookmark the site.  If they are using an iPad, iPod or iPhone, they can click the Share icon (located next to the address bar; it looks like an envelope with an arrow coming out of it), and then select "Add to Home Screen."  If will save the Kahoot! site and appear on the home screen, similar to an app.  The icon is a purple square with a white "K!" Your observant students will quickly notice that the background to the website changes colors.  It will look like this:

As the teacher, you will login to your Kahoot! page and choose a quiz.  You may create your own quiz, which is very easy to do.  You may also choose a quiz from the thousands of publicly shared quizzes.  (Please take a moment to preview the quiz before you show it to your class!)  Once you "LAUNCH" the quiz, students should see your teacher page on the Smartboard, and they will see a Game Pin number.  Students will enter the Game pin on their Student page to join the game.  After they enter the pin and press Enter, the next screen will ask them for their Nickname.  (I usually ask my students to use their real name to avoid confusion.)  As soon as they enter their name and press Enter, their name will appear on the Smartboard to show that they have joined the game.  Once all of your students have joined, you can go ahead and begin.  I have played Kahoot! with more than 200 people, so I am not certain there is a limit - you are only limited by the number of devices you have.  

When you begin, the Smartboard will show the question first.  After a few seconds, it will show the question with some answer choices.  Each answer choice correlates to a color and shape.  These images are shown on the student devices.  (Students do not see the questions or answer choices on their device.  This is why they need to be able to see and read the Smartboard.  Or you can read the question and answer choices to the students.)  Students will select which answer they think is best on their device by touching or clicking the color/shape combo.  Then they will get a message that they are waiting for other players until everyone has answered or time runs out.  After everyone has answered (or time has run out), students will see if their answer was correct or incorrect.  As the administrator, you can advance the screen to show a bar graph or overall student performance.  It will not show which students got the answer right or wrong, but a summary of the responses.  

There are lots of features and options to check out to enhance your Kahoot! experience.  I hope you and your students will enjoy playing Kahoot! as much as my students and I enjoy it!  Please feel free to post comments if you try it out!  Thanks for reading and Happy Kahooting!  :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

ChromeBooks in HCS

Hello Tech Ninjas! I was asked to do a short post on ChromeBooks in the district. I definitely see ChromeBooks as the device of the future for Harnett County Schools. We have purposely not made the foray into the ChromeBook world yet for two main reasons: 1) we were waiting for a more robust machine to come out that would work better in our environment; and 2) we were not sure that our staff as a whole was ready to go "all-in" with Google Apps.

I believe that Dell's release of a ChromeBook with 4GB of RAM and an 11-hour battery life helped to address the first concern. I have been using a Dell ChromeBook 11 since they were released and have been extremely impressed with the performance of the machine. Going from Off to On, logged in, and working in less than 20 seconds is definitely a strength of the device and one that our students and staff will, I am sure, appreciate. The battery life definitely sets the ChromeBook apart from any other laptop.

The second issue of staff readiness is a little more difficult to quantify, but I am confident that our planned staff development will adequately address it. ChromeBooks have been purchased for each Curriculum Director, Literacy Coach, Instructional Coach, Technology Facilitator, and Media Coordinator to allow these integral staff members to begin preparing for the transition to the new devices. Also, several 1:1 ChromeBook classrooms have been funded across the district and at each grade configuration so that some of our early adopters can put the devices through the paces in the classroom. It is also planned that the new Highland Middle School will open as a 1:1 ChromeBook school.

Like any device, there are certainly strengths and weaknesses of ChromeBooks. I feel confident that the strengths of the Dell ChromeBook 11 greatly outweigh its limitations - especially considering we can purchase between three and four of them for every Mac and/or PC laptop that we typically purchase. It will certainly be interesting to see how the deployment of large numbers of ChromeBooks go in the future, but I strongly believe that the devices can be used in an instructionally appropriate manner to engage our students and further their education.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Jeff Pittman
Chief Technology Officer
Harnett County Schools