Create classroom polls in seconds for your students.

This is as easy tool as you will find to make a very simple classroom Poll.  99 Polls creates flash based based polls to unlimited audiences in seconds.

With your free account from 99polls you can now create customized surveys and polls for your website, blog and social network profiles.  Using 99polls is a powerful and effective way to get instant feedback and increase your site's popularity among Internet users.

Students may use this for maths or to quickly gather data for a research project or you might simply have a class vote on a specific topic. 

Access it here.

Is report writing really worth the headaches? Not according to my Parents!

Currently down here in the land of Oz nearly all teachers are busily stooped over their laptops daily and nightly, reading and rereading, testing and re-testing to finalise reports before we all take a well earned break over a long hot Aussie Summer.

Some teachers I work with claim to putting in over 3 hours per student in writing time alone to get them done to a standard they are happy with.  Personally, I find that a little ridiculous and put in considerably less time, but I can say that after completing my masters last year that writing a semesters  worth of reports for a class was more time consuming and stressful than completing a postgraduate unit of study which had a 6 month time allocation versus around 1 month.  Doing both was not much  for anyone.

Surprisingly, a survey completed at my school 2 years ago to all parents uncovered that the majority of parents spent less than 5 minutes reading reports and the bulk of that time is spent looking at the progression points ( or Grade Points for our international audience) and reading the summary section only.  Nearly every parent I have spoken to from a range of schools were not satisfied with their child's reports branding them impersonal, uninformative and uninteresting no matter what style and approach they had.

So it would appear from the very small amount of data I have at my finger tips that teports are not pleasing parents or teachers to any great lengths and the information contained within them can often raise more questions than they answer.

Are reports just the burden of teachers to balance out the benefit of frequent holidays?  Or is there a better way?  Is there a smarter way?

Personally, I send home a digital portfolio with my reports with hundreds of samples of work, photos, student reflections and authentic assessment pieces such as videos of classroom presentations.  Unlike reports I am not obliged to do this but I find it far more effective in telling mum and dad what little Johnny has been doing at school and it is a genuine record of 6 to12 months work versus a couple of months of intense testing.

So I am asking you to take my grain of salt survey results in the global scheme of things and let me know if I am the only one in this boat? And,  if so what am I doing wrong?  And more importantly what could we all do to make reports more effective for all involved. 

If you agree and have similar stories to tell either as a teacher or even parent I would love to hear them too.

Create your own surveys with Polldaddy

Polldaddy might sound a bit dodgy by name but it a really useful online survey tool to use at school.  I tried for the first time this week with a great deal of ease and success.  Polldaddy allowed me to survey my students about a research project they have been involved in in less than 10 minutes embed it in our class wiki and provided me with some really useful data.  I just used the free account and it met all my needs but obviously power users will find some purpose to the paid content.

As a long time Surveymonkey user I made the switch painlessly and will definitely use it again in future.  Laura Gibbs has a great instructional page on how to create a Poll and embed it in your won web space, wiki or Blog.  Check it out here.