Engaging instruction is the goal of every educator. So when I was introduced to an app that promised such a lofty ideal, I had to try it.
At the time, I was teaching sixth grade math and social studies in a Pennsylvania school district. I had a challenging lesson coming up and sought the assistance of a fellow teacher who was piloting an iPad cart. He allowed me to borrow it for my math lesson on changing fractions. The math series we used had a lesson called ‘The Licorice Lace Problem’ which described a few teens going on a hike. They were dividing up licorice equally among themselves. Just after they cut the licorice another friend shows up, now they need to redistribute the licorice. This is spatially a hard concept to imagine.
But I had an idea!
Nearpod is an app that allows a teacher to present an interactive lesson on the students’ iPads. I had prepared a set of informative slides to describe the scenario. I then created slides that were used as background images for Nearpod’s Draw It slides. Here the students were able to draw right on their iPad, which for this math problem, required them to mark where they would cut the licorice lace. These pictures were submitted to my iPad, wirelessly through Nearpod, so I had instant feedback if they understood the concept or if they needed another attempt. I could share out student examples anonymously to their iPads for class discussion. I was also able to pose a poll, Q & A, multiple choice, or true/false style questions. Students would get instant feedback on their answers to these questions. All in all, active learning was taking place.
As soon as I opened the cart, I had the students’ attention. After establishing some management guidelines with the class, everyone logged into Nearpod with the student pin. My struggling students were participating and weren’t afraid to be wrong because it wasn’t directly in the eyes of their peers, like it would if they were up at the board or showing their work under the document camera.
The excitement, engagement, and of course, every teacher’s favorite word, data proved this app to be useful. I was able to go into the Nearpod website with my log-in credentials (free account) and access all the information gathered during the lesson. I could see the Draw Its each student submitted and create graphs on student responses.
Currently I’m employed with a NJ school district as a teacher resource specialist for technology. Their iPad initiative includes three iPads in every first and second grade classroom in each of their four elementary buildings. By sharing iPads among grade level classes or working on targeted mini lessons in small groups, teachers have been able to do Nearpod lessons on topics like telling time, counting money, and weather, to name a few. This has been a useful tool!
Teachers can download the free app and create a free account. The site is user friendly and straight forward. I’ve made my slides on PowerPoint or SMART Notebook then saved as images to upload into my Nearpod lesson. Nearpod is adding more features as well. You have the ability to share out a website during a lesson, embed a video, and its newest feature for the flipped classroom Nearpod Homework, where the students can go through a lesson at their pace. This is a wonderful tool that has a growing following on Twitter (great place to go to read how others have used it or ask questions #NearpodTeachers).
Teachers want a way to deliver interactive lessons to engage all learners and I feel, no, I know, Nearpod has been my answer.
Cross-posted on Edudemic: http://edudemic.com/2013/05/how-nearpod-brought-active-learning-to-my-classroom/
Tech & Learning Advisor Blog: http://www.techlearning.com/Default.aspx?tabid=67&entryid=5742