Nearpod: Lesson presentations which are truly interactive

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Has anyone else lost the love of these ‘interactive’ smart boards which have become a standard feature of classrooms these days?

I am always looking to improve the way I use ICT in my classroom and how I can use the SAMR model to redefine technology in my lessons. It’s a constant learning curve and I’ve recently discovered Nearpod which is revolutionising how I deliver my lessons.

As a fan of flipped teaching and backwards teaching, I am passionate about AFL and individualising content as much as possible. Nearpod enables teachers to deliver a lesson either live or at the pace of students by allowing them to access the content of the presentation on their own device, via a student code.

The teacher can control the pace through Live teaching, as you would with a PowerPoint, Presi, Promethean or Smart presentation, but students also have access to the content and can answer questions, take quizzes and provide the teacher with valuable formative feedback on their learning. Polls can be used in the live teaching mode to engage students and quickly assess whether a concept has been understood.

If you opt for student paced learning, students can access the same content as above, yet this way they can move through the content at their own pace, allowing for students to go back, revise, practise or skip forward etc. Videos can be embedded to support those learners who need more teacher demonstration, whereas more confident learners can simply skip these videos and go onto the next slide of content.

I introduced this to my students this week and they have picked it up pretty quickly. Often I have morning activities going on in class as the students get into school and one of these Nearpod tasks served as a great task for this slot.

Data reports – Here is the great bit – data!

Whichever way the students access the content, live or at their own pace, their interactions and answers are recorded and the data can then be used for your assessment, for learning conversations with students and also with parents. After the lesson has ended, the data is stored in the lesson file, under your library. Clicking on the top of the lesson and then onto reports gives you the data from that lesson in an easy to read format with statistics for accuracy, participation and details of the questions which were answered correctly or incorrectly. This can handily be printed off in a PDF format, either in teacher or student friendly versions, depending on what purpose you’re using it for. You could print these reports and keep it in students’ books, if you wanted a written record.

Teacher report – whole class

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Student friendly data report

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Nearpod also has some awesome features such as 3D graphic models and virtual field trips, which I’ve yet to explore fully. I can’t wait to learn more about this programme and use it to its full capability in my classroom.

For me, the major benefit of this tool is its interactive features which mean students are really involved in the lesson and can access it at their own pace.

Find out more about Nearpod here

Excited to try it out for yourself?

One quick way to try Nearpod in your classroom is to create an account (for free) and then download some of the content already created by other teachers. You can duplicate their content and add it to your library, where you can either use as it is or edit for your own students. I recommend trying this way first in order to see how others are using the programme. Some of the ready-made content is free while others charge a small fee.

Other tips on how to use Nearpod in your classroom:

Technology in the classroom: The SAMR model

Technology is moving at an incredible pace and every day it seems that there is something new we could use in the classroom. But how often do we use technology in a way which actually adds something to our teaching and, more importantly, adds something to the learning of our students?  The SAMR model, developed by Ruben Puentedura, demonstrates the thinking process that we as educators can go through in order to up-skill their use of technology in the classroom.   

What is the SAMR model?

Watch this video for an introduction: Dr Ruben Puentedura – The SAMR Model

Key question: Is it adding anything?

Using the SAMR model, we can begin to analyse how we are currently using technology and consider our next steps as teachers. 

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Slide1” (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by langwitches

It can be tempting to stick to substitution when we use technology in the classroom, through the use of Office tools or research. Using an iPad to computer to research something which could equally be researched using a book is substitution. Using googlemaps instead of an atlas to locate a country is substitutionWriting up a student’s work on Word, Publisher or other programme is substitution.  These are simply alternative methods which don’t necessarily add any more to the learning. However, the good news is that there are also many easy ways we can adapt how we use these same tools which do add to the learning. Yes – easy

Word processing
Original task: Writing a story. 
Improved using the SAMR model:

Substitution: A Word Processor replaces a Pen/Pencil in a Writing Assignment. Students type the story instead.  
Augmentation: The document is created using the Word Processor using a speech-to-text function to ‘type’ it – great for students who are learning English as a second language.  
Modification: Work is shared with peers/teacher so that feedback can be received and incorporated to help improve the quality of writing. This is easily done through Google Drive, if you have it, or can simply be saved onto the sever and a peer can then open and use the review mode to add comments, highlight sections, pose questions etc.
Redefinition: Instead of a written assignment, students could ‘write’ their story using an iMovie, Comic Life app, youtellstory app or storybird. All of these apps allow you to add pictures and overlay audio to tell your story. There are so many of them out there. 

Research lesson.
Original task: research a country or city and share facts using books from library and magazine clippings.
Improved using the SAMR model:

Substitution: Use presentation software (like Powerpoint or Prezi) to construct a presentation providing information about a selected area.
Augmentation: Incorporate interactive multimedia – audio, video, hyperlinks – in the presentation to give more depth and provide more engaging presentation.
Modification: Create a digital travel brochure that incorporates multimedia and student created video. 
Redefinition: Explore the locale with Google Earth; seek out and include interviews with people who have visited the local. A green screen video would add a sense of realness with the student interviewing people ‘in’ the city.  

Science. 
Original task: label the features of the water cycle on a diagram. 
Improved using the SAMR model:

SubstitutionUse the Smart board or other interactive whiteboard to drag and drop the labels onto the diagram. 
Augmentation: Use Quizlet online to create a matching game for parts of the diagram, definition and term. 
Modification: Use the app Educreations to model drawing the diagram and audio record the explanation.
Redefinition: Use Aurasma app to bring a diagram ‘to life’ by embedding video explanations and/or drama created by the student.  

How can I develop my practice using the SAMR model?

Take one step at a time and progress up through the model. Remember, substitution is not bad but we can improve our practice and the learning opportunities we create by moving up asking ourselves some key questions.  

What apps work for this?

This blog has some great ideas for how to use this model in your classroom and links each section of the model to different apps.

Further reading:

SAMR model explained. (Useful Prezi)

Technology integration in the classroom. 

Digital technologies in the classroom.

Assessment: why it has the ability to excite me and make me cry tears of frustration, all at the same time.

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Assessment. *Shudder* Just the mention of it evokes an emotion or another in every teacher, and the chances are it will be a negative emotion. For many schools, assessment and the statistical data which it creates, have become the driving force behind everything they do. It’s the reason for many new initiatives which are put in place. The reason for employing those extra teaching assistants (of you’re lucky!) It’s the focus of every (dare I even utter the word) inspection which takes place. But many schools have lost theit way with it all. Why are we in this profession? Why do we spend all those hours creating, preparing and teaching lessons? Because of the children. Because we care about their development and want to help shape their future.

I love data. There, I said it. I do. I love data because it confirms to me what I already know. It highlights which students have made great progress and which need a bit more support. Whether you are still using levels or if you’ve moved to the magical sounding ‘life after levels’, it’s the same game, both are vital for teachers to gain a better picture of the progress and needs of their students. Am I the only one who gets excited when you see students achieving objectives which you’d never have thought they’d get to at the beginning of the year? Honestly, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing one of your students really ace that objective and you being able to triple tick it, or highlight it complete or even, here’s hoping, mastered! I love those moments. Data helps me to see how I am helping my students and that is a little bit gratifying too!

However, I was sat in a pupil progress meeting not all that long ago, where all I heard was statistics, percentages and numbers. Not once was a student mentioned by name, until I brought in that element. I let out a quiet sigh. I had prepared pages and pages of analysis (I refer back to my I love data comment here) and was so proud of what I had to share about my class and their achievements. Yet, I was never given the chance. Nor would it have registered on their radar. Why? Because more and more often, data is becoming and all consuming fire in schools and within management. Little Johnny’s progress in his multiplication facts matters little if he does not fall into a certain category of need. It was during this very meeting that I was told to ignore those children with needs and those who are falling behind age related expectations. Now it was time to focus on the middle group to push them into exceeding expectations (in order to meet our overly ambitious targets.) I was effectively being told to stop doing what I know to be the best for my students. Well. Honestly, that upset me. If this is where education is heading, then I am not sure what the future holds for it all.

I understand that there are targets schools need to aspire to. I understand that inspections inflict a great deal of pressure onto management. But I don’t understand and I don’t agree with the way that students have turned into figures.

As I begin my new job this August, I will remind myself that my students are individuals and not statistics. They are here to learn, make progress and have fun. They are human beings. I will celebrate their individual successes with them, with their parents and with my colleagues. And I vow to not be dragged into a numbers game and lose sight of what’s important here… the children.

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