Using Kahoot to Gamify Your Classroom

Writer(s): 
Stephen Case, Baiko University

Kahoot! is a free, game-based learning website and app used to create and take a variety of quizzes called “kahoots.” Used by over 40 million people each month, it is one of the largest education platforms on the Internet (Keane, 2017). Kahoot quizzes can be taken by anyone with an Internet connected device. Kahoot quizzes can be made by anyone with an account. 

For students, Kahoot is designed to be as easy to use as possible. It is free, has an intuitive design system with little language dependency, and is usable without a need to register, login, or download anything. It is designed with social learning in mind, as students are encouraged to gather around a single device and engage in competition with the whole class. Kahoot is also designed to encourage students to look up from their devices to maximise interaction with the class. Students have reported finding increased motivation to study through using the platform (Zarzycka-Piskorz, 2016). Simply put, Kahoot is a versatile tool for teachers and students, designed to be easily used in any classroom situation.

How Does it Work?

To use Kahoot in a classroom, you will need a central screen that all students can see. This acts as the hub from which the quiz is administered. First, from the teacher’s computer, you need to select the quiz you wish the students to try (Figure 1). Starting the quiz will give a room code which students will enter into a separate website <http://kahoot.it>. Students can each play on their own device or in teams. Students will also enter a name (inappropriate names can be vetoed by the teacher) at this point. Once students enter a name, that name will appear on the central computer as logged in, and when all the students are in the quiz, the teacher can start the quiz.

Figure 1. Teacher’s quiz selection screen. (see PDF)

Students will need to read the question from the central screen and then do the task presented by Kahoot as quickly as possible. They do this from their device. Once everyone has answered, the correct answer is displayed and students are awarded points based on accuracy and speed. After the quiz is over, the winning student’s or team’s name is displayed. 

Types of Quizzes

There are two types of quizzes you can create in Kahoot. The first is a multiple-choice format. A question is presented, and then students choose from two to four possible answers. The second type is Jumble. In this game, four items must be put in a correct order. This is done by selecting and dragging the items on the device to complete the task. 

Within this simple framework, a surprising amount of creativity is possible. The format and number of questions are entirely up to the teacher, who can add videos, images, and diagrams to the questions. This is made easy because Kahoot has a database of media to draw from. However, it is also possible to upload your own materials. Teachers can also adjust settings such as how much time students have and whether or not points will be awarded. Altering these settings can change the feel of the quiz from a frantic and fun, high energy quiz to a slow and thoughtful group discussion. There are also two non-quiz style formats to choose from: One is used to facilitate discussion by asking discussion questions and asking students to choose an answer, and the other is used to administer class surveys.

Beyond these basic uses, there is so much hidden depth in Kahoot that I encourage people to go online and experiment with what can be done. Kahoot has a huge online community of people sharing ideas. Kahoot also has a feature in which you can preview and test your own Kahoots before trying them in the classroom. This is useful for experimenting with what works and what does not in the given classroom situation.

Author’s Uses in the Classroom

There are too many ways to use Kahoot to cover in this article. Here are four interesting ways that I have used it to great effect in the classroom:

1. Use Kahoots to practice TOEIC Part One

It is easy to upload pictures to the system, so Kahoot can be used as an easy way to practice Part One of the TOEIC test. Simply write four sentences for each of a series of pictures, and have students select the correct one. Figure 2 uses an animal photo that students tend to like to maximize engagement.

Figure 2. Using Kahoot for TOEIC practice. (ss PDF)

2. Use ‘Jumble’ to practice sentence structure

This is very easy to make and useful for practicing simple sentence structure. It is a little limited, however, as there are only four items in the quiz. Figure 3 shows a task practicing passives. 

Figure 3. Using Kahoot’s jumble feature for a specific grammar target. (see PDF)

3. Would you rather? Guess the class preferences

This activity uses the survey tool. Students are presented with ‘would you rather’ questions (Figure 4). Instead of saying their own preference, students have to discuss with a partner what they think the most popular answer in the class will be before discussing the answer as a class.

Figure 4. Using Kahoot as a classroom discussion tool. 

4. Make your own Kahoot 

Kahoot really is easy to use, so getting students to make their own Kahoots is an engaging project-based learning task. I recommend having a class hashtag (e.g. #Freshman8) to make it easy to find students work. 

Conclusion

Kahoot is also a very simple way to gamify your classroom to any target or activity you need. Investing time to make interesting quizzes can give you a variety of tasks to draw on for your classes. All Kahoot quizzes can be shared online, so that anyone can use them. This means that you can use other educators’ Kahoots, and there is a massive database of quizzes already out there. These Kahoots are searchable by hashtags, and there is a good number of ESL / EFL Kahoots already available. To create a Kahoot community for educators in Japan, we could share what Kahoots we make using the hashtag #tltkahoot to share our work. This way we can build up a resource that we can all benefit from as it matches most of our current teaching situations and needs. 

References

Keane, J. (2017, March 6). Norwegian Edtech Company Kahoot! Reaches 1 Billion Players. Retrieved from http://tech.eu/brief/kahoot-1-billion-players

Zarzycka-Piskorz, E. (2016). Kahoot it or not? Can games be motivating in learning grammar? Teaching English with Technology, 16(3), 17-36. 

Editor’s Note: Gamifying the language classroom is a great way to engage your students and keep them interested in the lessons. Hopefully you found many other ideas for making your lessons more exciting at JALTCALL 2018 in Nagoya. If you want more CALL-related teaching ideas, join us for the CALL SIG Forum at JALT this November. There are always new and interesting ideas to keep your language lessons Wired!

 
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