Saturday, 24 October 2015

Brainstorming and polling with AnswerGarden

AnswerGarden is a very simple tool for creating short answer polls and displaying the answers as word clouds. It’s really simple and quick to use and can be used in the classroom or embedded into webpages, blogs or in online courses.

To create an AnswerGarden poll just go to and click on the + sign at the top. Then you can either type in a topic to brainstorm or a question.

AnswerGarden poll responses are limited to either 20 or 40 characters so be sure that the type of question you use doesn’t require a long complex answer. AnswerGarden works best when only a single word answer is required.

Once you have added your topic or question you can just click enter and your poll will be ready. Then just share the URL with the recipients.

You can refine your poll and add some security to it if you wish.
  • There are a number of modes you can choose for your poll.
  • You can allow different users to repeat the same answer, in which case the repeated word will appear larger depending on the number of people who enter the word, or you can allow each word to be entered only one time.
  • You can set the poll to be moderated so that words only appear once you approve them.
  • You can add a password for the poll and add your email address to get an admin link for the poll.
  • You can lock the poll so that nobody can add to it, but this would usually be done once the poll is complete.

Once the poll has been launched there are a number of other nice features including an automatically generated QR code to make the poll easy to access for students on mobile phones.

 You can also share the poll quite easily through a range of social media or get an embed code to add it to a webpage or blog. You can even geo broadcast the poll through your local network so that anyone can discover it on their mobile phone or laptop.

Once your students have completed the poll there are a number of export options including export to Wordle, Tagxedo which allow you to customise the word cloud and save or edit the results. You can also send it to Twitter or save it as a PNG.

AnswerGarden in the classroom
  • You can set a topic and get students to brainstorm vocabulary connected with that topic. Once all the words have been added you can ask students to peer teach any they don’t know in pairs or small groups or research the words in an online dictionary.
  • As a warmer you could get students to enter all the verbs, nouns or adjectives they know that start with a particular letter. You could even create two or three AnswerGardens with the same task and give them to different groups and see which group produces the most examples.
  • You could do a variation of the above game by getting students to brainstorm nouns that have specific qualities. For example, students could add anything they can think of that has feet, or anything that can fly, or anything that is green.
  • You could start with a route word and ask your students to enter or collect words that collocate with it. This doesn’t have to be done in one lesson but students could use a number of these AnswerGardens to collect collocations. They could do a similar thing with phrasal verbs using either a verb or a preposition in the question.
  • You could use AnswerGarden to get your students to create anagrams from a route word. Again you could have a different poll for each grup and make this competitive.
  • You could use an AnswerGarden to find out more about your students by getting them to enter things or people that they like or don’t like, such as favourite sports or actors.
  • You could find out how students feel about something by getting them to enter adjectives to express their feelings about anything from politics to action research on specific classroom techniques you use. Or they could just enter adjectives to describe how they are feeling. This is a good way to take the temperature of the room.
  • You could use AnswerGarden to get students to decide between two or three options. They just type in the one they want and the most popular one will appear as the biggest word.
Because AnswerGarden is so simple and quick to use and doesn’t require registration it would be great to get students using it to create their own small research questionnaires. They could then share these within the class or through their social media networks and then present the responses in class.

I hope you enjoy using AnswerGarden with your students. Please post any additional ideas or links to examples you have created in the comments.

Related links:

Nik Peachey

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