Subscribe to Edtech Elixirs! Enter your email address below.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


5/15/17:  The original version of ActivePrompt is no longer active, so I have removed the original URL link from this entry.  However, a "revised" version is now available online.  Please see the edited note at the bottom of this entry.  

A few months ago, I discovered a free and very engaging formative assessment tool called ActivePrompt.  If you prefer video, I talk about it here; but if you prefer text, I discuss this tool below the video.

How does it work?  After going to the site, you are first asked to upload an image to interact with. (The image I created for the video is available here.)  Next, you are to write a prompt that begins with, "Drag the red dot to..."  

By going to the site, you automatically will generate two URLs, as seen in the bottom half of the image above: one for students, and one "teacher" or display site.   On the student view, the student will see a small red dot in the upper left hand corner.  The student moves the red dot in response to the prompt given.  Note that the student only sees their own red dot, not everyone else's.

From the teacher or "display" view, the teacher can see the red dots from multiple students move in real time.  (Teacher tip: although seeing 30 dots move around definitely has a "wow" factor, you might want students to respond first before showing the display site, so their answer is not a victim of peer pressure.)   While students have their browser's tab open, they can keep moving the red dot over and over again.

On the display site, you can click the tools icon in the bottom right to clear all the dots (possible if all students have closed their browser tabs), change the prompt question, or even shortcut to the student view.  Note that anyone with the display URL can make these changes, so be careful in sharing the address.

The great thing is, the created student and display sites can be revisited over and over, even if you close your browser and go to the URL on another day.  (Since there is no registration at any point for student or teacher, take care to save created prompt URLs in an accessible place, since when you visit the main ActivePrompt website again, you will start from scratch.)

How could you use it?  Anytime you would like to assess the class on the fly, you could use a generic response image like the one above and reuse it over and over again.  Or, you could assess specific needs that involve images.  For example, you could upload an image of the periodic table and ask students which element is commonly known as gold; see in real time how quickly it takes students to move to "Au"!  Another example would be to show a picture of various numbers and have students identify the prime number.  Because of its visual nature, ActivePrompt would come in very handy for classrooms with students who are ELL, struggling reader/writers, or pre-literate (kindergarten or first grade students).

Downsides?  Sometimes the red dot can be a bit tricky to "grab," although on a multiplicity of devices (Android smartphone, iPad Air, MacBook Air, Lenovo Yoga ThinkPad) I have gotten it to work.  The URLs might be a bit long for some, but you can make it easier for students to get to them by putting links in a TodaysMeet, a tweet, or a teacher website; you could also shorten the URL with various sites (, TinyURL,, etc.).

All in all, a great formative assessment tool, especially at no charge!

Have you used ActivePrompt?  Have a clever idea on how to integrate it into your lesson?  Comment below.

Editor's note 5/15/17:  The original version as described and shown in the screenshots and video above is no longer active.  However, a new version is available here.   And it's still free!  The interface is more streamlined but there are some significant differences:

  • The "polling" side for students (with a much shorter and easier URL to share) allows the student to move the red dot, but once they stop moving and take their finger off the trackpad/mouse/touch screen, their response is locked in.  They cannot move the dot again.  If they made a mistake, they have to start over with a new response.
  • When viewing the "response" (teacher) side, you no longer see the red dots move in real time, but only see where they land.  You have to manually refresh the response side to see the newest/latest changes; it will not update automatically.
  • Polls can be easily reset from your account.
  • A public gallery is now provided where you can easily clone favorites to your own account.  While somewhat large and currently not searchable or organized in any way, it's worth browsing; there are lots of generic ones worth using.
  • You can still upload your own images, but they are currently limited to 2 MB or less.  Keep in mind that all images uploaded become part of the public gallery; you currently cannot make private uploads or prompts.  (The responses, however, are private to your account.)


  1. I have enjoyed two things in particular about Active Prompt: the fact that you can upload your own images, and the fact that you can save, clone and reset saved prompts. Today, I used it to have students indicate which part of a Lucy Calkins rubric they wanted to focus our mini-lesson on. The "view results" feature let them glimpse how I would need to focus my lesson time, and how they could tailor their peer conferencing. It made them more respectful of the lesson time, and also more receptive to the targeted tools that could help them ok their final draft. By seeing clusters of dots where others were working on their writing, they also got a sense of where their collective competencies as a class were.

  2. Thank you for sharing, Heather!