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Let’s race! Engage your students with Socrative

Socrative is one of my students’ favorite new classroom apps, mostly because of its Space Race game. Socrative is both free and web-based, so you can run it on any system. Its Space Race activity displays a set of rocket ships on the overhead projector screen, while the students compete with other teams by answering a set of questions. As they get a problem right right, their rocket moves ahead. Again, you’d think there was a monetary prize for the winner as your classroom dissolves into shouts and cheers, but pride will do that to you 😉

You can also assign quizzes and exit tickets on Socrative, and because the Socrative interface is incredibly intuitive, I welcome you to dive in and just play with it. If you’d like a tutorial, you’ll also find that in the set of videos below (and if you have never seen Socrative in action, I do recommend watching the second video!), but what I’d really like to emphasize in this post is the Space Race set-up.

Socrative Space Race

The first time I ran Space Race, it worked beautifully, and then the next section dissolved into complete chaos, as I’m sure you’ve experienced with new activities (Physics, anyone?). So whether you’re tech savvy or not, I strongly recommend reading these pointers that I learned the hard way.

  • Socrative requires you to enter how many teams will be playing before you start. Before you launch the game, make sure that only one person from each team is logged into Socrative, and confirm that each team realizes who their point person is. If more people log in than there are teams, the rocket assignment gets totally messed up. Once each team is logged in properly, then hit “Start Activity”.
  • DO NOT let the students choose a rocket color. Let Socrative auto-assign that for you. If not, fights will break out. Seriously.
  • Make sure that the students have a team name picked before you start the game. This is completely irrelevant, but Socrative always makes you enter your name before you start an activity for data collecting purposes. If the teams don’t pick a name, they spend time arguing over this one screen, which slows them down and annoys them later when they’re behind.
  • After you end the game, don’t forget that you have the option to receive the teams’ scores and a list of problems they got right/wrong. This is very handy as you can check if there are questions that the entire classed missed that you should review.

Other things to keep in mind in terms of competition:

  • Remind the students that it’s not who finishes first – it’s who finishes the most problems correctly first. A lot of them will stop when they think they have no chance of winning… but then maybe the first team done actually gets two wrong, so other teams still could win.
  • Some teams believe they have no chance of winning from the beginning, and think they should just quit. If that attitude manifests itself, I have each student submit their work for the problems on a piece of paper after the game. This not only forces them to do the work, but it helps them get back into a good mindset. In fact, once some of those teams actually start working, they do really well!

The videos below will walk you through setting up a Quiz or Space Race, and then launching a race/quiz. It may take some time setting up, but I promise your students will love it 😀

Click here to access Socrative User Guide (with tutorials) as a pdf

Lastly, thanks to my coworker Suzanne for introducing me to Socrative 🙂

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