Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #6:

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Poll Everywhere: An Overview

Poll Everywhere is a free live poll service (with available upgrades) to engage your students during lessons. This is a tool I have used since my first year of teaching that I have kept in my teacher toolbox. The company was founded in 2007 and has grown in options of how you can survey and engage your students.

Features (free and upgraded)

There are a variety of polls to choose from and Poll Everywhere continues to add features every year. I have never personally upgraded to a Premium account. The main difference between the Free and Premium memberships are data recording and data segmentation, which I do not use. See the K-12 Education Plans for upgraded pricing and features.

Poll Everywhere started with the classic Multiple Choice poll, one that I still use the most often. My students love the real-time responses that come in and they start shouting out, “No, it’s C! It’s C!” fighting for the answer they chose. My students are immediately engaged when they see the bars bouncing back and forth every time a new response comes in.

The following is a list of polls that you can create (all free). For more detailed descriptions of each activity, check out Poll Everywhere Activity Explanations.

Types of Polls & Data Presentation

  • Multiple Choice – Watch the bars bounce back and forth!
  • Word Cloud – A beautiful and creative visual.
  • Q & A & Upvote The audience can submit open-ended responses, then upvote or downvote other submissions.
  • Clickable Image – The audience clicks on an image to respond.
  • Survey – The audience can answer multiple questions at once at their own pace.
  • Open-ended – Select your visualization type: text wall, word cloud, cluster, or spotlight. Choose from icebreaker, retrospective, discussion, brainstorm, short answer, or bulletin board.
  • Competitions – Exactly as it sounds! Gamification. (Only multiple choice questions are a part of this type poll at this point.)
  • Leaderboard – Vote on your favorite team!
  • Emotion Scale – Choose from the smiley faces!
  • Presentation Feedback – Choose from multiple choice, word cloud, Q & A, clickable image, open-ended text, or ranking options.
  • Assign Teams – A quick poll to see who is on what team.
  • 2 x 2 matrix – Participants can click on an image to relay information (i.e., click on the map to show your region; click to rate projects from low to high priority).

Styles of data presentation

Poll options (Image source:
Example of a Donut Chart (Image source:

Ideas for the classroom

I tend to do stand alone polls but new features permit you to build several activities into one poll. When you create a poll (top left blue button), you can assign a poll to a group or leave it ungrouped to receive all answers in one area. Once you have added one poll style, you will see the “Add another activity” button in the bottom right. Note! Make sure to choose the style of activity you would like to add next before clicking “Add another activity.” If not, you will simply add the same activity from your previous question type. (If you’re first activity within the poll was Multiple Choice, your second activity will be Multiple Choice unless you choose another activity.)

I primarily use polls to introduce cultural content. For example, I ask my students about the origins of Step dancing, which leads into this Gumboot Dance cultural video and discussion of the history of Step dance origins. I also poll students on the meaning of the invented French verb “giraffer.” When they discover that students in Africa created this word to describe another student cheating off of his or her paper, I then ask them to make up their own “to cheat” verb based on our geographic surroundings!

Class competitions and film festivals easily integrate polls with voting for the winners. The clickable image can test your students’ knowledge of geography. I also personally love the Word Cloud function for emotional check-ins. On Fridays, we have #vendredis, sometimes both in the beginning and end of class when the content is heavy. Have your students upvote their favorites!

Sometimes polls are just for fun. I often enjoy the “Who do you think will win the Super Bowl?” or “Do you think Peyton Manning will return to the NFL?” poll when I was teaching in Denver. My all time favorite is the World Cloud where students suggested names for the then upcoming birth of my daughter. The top two? Stormageddon and Padrah 2.0.

Fun or serious, Poll Everywhere is a way to engage your students that is quick and easy, providing the perfect transition for discussion and your upcoming lesson. Give it a try! I’d love to hear how you use Poll Everywhere!