How I Use It
Although this could be used before a unit to gauge prior knowledge, I tend to use this as a mid-unit or end of the unit assessment to see how well the students are getting the material. The students really like the competitive aspect as the app itself displays a leaderboard after every question is answered. I usually award the leaderboard (the top five at the end) with some sort of extra credit. The results can also be downloaded into a spreadsheet to be be further analyzed or to be simply used as a graded quiz.
Let me start with good things about this app / site.
Creating an account on the site is simple and FREE. Creating the assessments are also relatively simple. The instructor has the option of creating a quiz, a survey, or a prompt for a discussion. All three give useful feedback but in my opinion the most engaging option is the quiz. The quiz is set up in the multiple choice format and the instructor can create as many questions as they like. Each question also allows you to add an image or a video to your questions (although kahoot clearly let's you know that the video option is experimental). The video is a link to YouTube so if your district blocks the teachers' ability to view YouTube then you won't be able to add a video. If your district blocks students from YouTube but allows teachers you should be in good shape.
As for its use in the classroom, students can use laptops, PC's, tablets and smartphones to participate. They do not have to download anything since it is web based. They are given a code to join the game. When they enter the code, their name appears on the master screen. Once everyone is in the game begins. It's that simple and that's when the fun begins. Kahoot keeps score after every question and displays the leaderboard. Prepare yourself for occasional outbursts of celebration when the leaderboard displays the instance when one player leapfrogs a frontrunner.
As a teacher, the app/site provides instantaneous feedback after each question in the form of a bar graph. When the quiz is over the instructor can download the results into a spreadsheet for further analysis.
So here are the cons. Since the quiz is in multiple choice format you have to be creative in your question and answer development to achieve those higher levels of learning. To make that goal harder to reach, the site only allows so many characters for each question and for each answer.
The other downside that I've recently caught onto is that the students tend to "cheat" by looking at the screens of the players in front of them. I noticed that the kids in the back row were scoring higher than the rest. Well, they had the benefit of seeing what everybody else was answering. But a few modifications such as actually putting the laptops on their laps blocks out a lot of wondering eyes. This probably would not be such an issue if you are using tablets or smartphones.
When making a quiz, it does take some time to enter all your questions in. However, once your quiz is complete it is saved on the site to be used over and over again.
Overall, the pros far outweigh the cons with the biggest pros being high levels of engagement and instantaneous teacher feedback. I highly recommend this app for all grade levels.