Guest blog post by Jen Kimbrell
My job as an instructional technology facilitator provides me the opportunity to assist teachers in infusing technology into the curriculum. I am fortunate enough to work with over twenty classrooms that are 1:1. Having a device for every student has been such a blessing to my teachers and students. I have seen such a tremendous change in the way teachers are interacting with students in the classroom. Many of my teachers are becoming facilitators. They are guiding students to create, think critically, and collaborate.
However, this does not happen overnight. Receiving a classroom set of iPads can be overwhelming. I always advise my teachers to start small. Choose a core set of apps and stick with them until students are more comfortable with the routines and procedures of the devices.
One of my favorite apps to get started is called Nearpod. Nearpod is an application tool that takes your presentations to a whole new level. Teachers can take already existing PowerPoints or PDFs and upload them to the Nearpod site to create enriched multimedia presentations with interactive features. Some of the features include adding quizzes, drawing tools, and video to the lesson. Teachers can then share the content with the students and control the activity with the Nearpod app. Students have the capability to receive the content from the teacher on their device for a great interactive lesson. There are many reasons to love this application but here are my top five reasons why Nearpod is a great way to start the journey of using devices in the classroom
1. Nearpod works on ANY device, whether students have iPads, computers, or other tablets. This is great especially for schools that allow students to bring their own devices.
2. The teacher has complete control of student devices. Yes, I said complete control. Before the lesson, the teacher provides a code for students to join the session. Once joined, the students submit their names which allows the teacher to see on the teacher iPad the names of the students that have joined. When all students have joined, the teacher can share the first slide of the presentation and begin the lesson. Students are only allowed to see the slide the teacher shares which ensures students are on task. If students try to go to the next slide the application will not allow them to do so. The students can exit the application but the teacher is notified when this occurs. This is a nice feature when just starting a 1:1 classroom or working with students in small groups, especially as it relates to classroom management.
3. Students can annotate slides to explain their thinking about a particular topic. For example, if teaching a math concept, students can show how to solve the problem by drawing it out using the pen tool feature. When the student uses the drawing tool, the student has the ability to submit their work. The teacher then has the capability of choosing a student response to share with the other students. This response can be seen on all student devices. Students can also take a quiz or poll directly on the device. Best of all, the information is saved to the Nearpod website for teacher analysis! The students’ annotated slides are also saved.
4. Only have a few devices? No problem, use them in small groups. I’ve seen the app used for guided reading groups, researching a science project, or collaborating on a math problem. The sky is the limit! There is also a premium version that costs around $120.00 annually that will allow students to use a homework code to work at their own pace without teacher control. This code can be used at home as well so students can review the lesson again and again. Other premium features include adding websites, audio, and longer video recordings.
5. The last reason why I love Nearpod is the plethora of already-made teacher resources created just for Nearpod. These resources can be found in the Nearpod store on the app or go to https://nearpod.com/. There are lots of great free and paid lessons for all grade levels.
If you are interested in learning more about Nearpod and how to create your own, please check out a blog post I wrote about the subject. Have you used Nearpod in the classroom? I would love to hear what you think about this incredible app!
Jen is the K-5 instructional technology facilitator for the North Little Rock School District in Arkansas. Prior to this position, she was a K-5 literacy coach and a first grade classroom teacher. She is has a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and is National Board Certified. Jennifer is the creator of the Tech with Jen blog where she enjoys sharing strategies for using technology in the classroom.