Website review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2019

AnswerGarden

Fast-to-the-screen word cloud generator for brainstorming and feedback

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 1 review
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Grades
4–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Character & SEL

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Pros: No account necessary for teachers or students.

Cons: Some kinks make accessing data iffy.

Bottom Line: Performs one function -- straightforward and uncomplicated.

Teachers can use AnswerGarden to pique interest before beginning a unit -- and access prior knowledge -- by having students respond to a question, or they can use it as an exit ticket response at the end of a lesson for general assessment. Teachers can also use AnswerGarden for quick relationship-building questions that don't relate to any specific content. It can be used, too, in professional development (PD) or other speaking engagements for audience participation.

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AnswerGarden is a simple, quick tool to get feedback through word clouds. As submissions are received in real time, larger fonts indicate the most frequent responses. Everything a teacher needs to set up a session is on one page of the site. Teachers start by entering a question and then choosing from a few options (defaults are already selected, so customizing further is optional). The Brainstorming mode allows responders to enter as many answers as they'd like, including duplicates of the same answer, and the Classroom mode allows multiple responses per user but no duplicates. The Moderator mode allows teachers to review comments before they're published, but during this review, it didn't work (no notifications of answers to moderate were received).

Students will think critically before sharing their responses, and they'll also learn from reading others' ideas. The fun design and social aspect will engage students. There are numerous ways teachers can implement the tool easily, but even though it's pretty basic, it will require some critical thinking from teachers as well. How will you get the link to students? There's no way to share, so it will need to be cut and pasted to be shared through another channel. How will you monitor student responses? Other tools, like Mentimeter and Poll Everywhere offer more options and monitoring, but take a little more work to create. An AnswerGarden session can be created in less than a minute, just without many bells and whistles. 

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Seeing their ideas instantly populated into a word cloud will delight and excite students. The simple design requires no login to create or answer, making for an easy-to-implement, highly engaging activity.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Even the quietest students are empowered to contribute their ideas with this nonthreatening (anonymous and fun) scribble space. It's up to teachers to make the data received meaningful.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

The site has easy-to-follow instructions, though the design is simple enough to figure out. Moderation options are supposed to be available but didn't work during the review.


Common Sense reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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Featured review by
Melissa Z. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Liberty
Springfield, United States
Tweet A Word Cloud
I think this can be a great teaching tool. The site is fairly easily to use. You can create an account to go back and edit your links. If you do not create an account and you lose your link you will not be able to get it back. I really like this website as a quick tool to have instant feedback or brainstorming type responses. I recommend using this if you need a quick response out of students or a quick talking point with students comments.
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