*All PowerPoint slides pictured below were created by Tracy Hall from HMS, and were generously shared with all GCISD middle school math teachers.
Task: Students worked through a Tree Diagram slideshow together using the Nearpod app. All students had a whiteboard to create their tree diagrams. After completing the first slideshow, students worked through a second presentation at their own pace. The second slideshow included four questions that allowed me to formatively assess the class. Nearpod allows users to upload existing PowerPoint presentations, or create new slideshows. It also lets you add interactive features such as polls, multiple-choice or open-ended questions, or drawing opportunities. Once a presentation is created, the teacher can issue the students a pin code to access the lesson. After students login with their name, the teacher controls the content that can be viewed on the iPad. A lesson can also be presented in “Homework” mode, which allows the students to watch the presentation at their own pace.
Reflection: While I was not originally excited about Nearpod, I learned many new features that changed my opinion. When I think about what I want my digital classroom to look like, I envision students using technology to create things themselves to show their creativity and demonstrate understanding of a concept. There are times, however, when presenting information is important. Nearpod makes this experience better because you can make it very interactive. Students love polls and remote responses that give immediate feedback. I took a simple PowerPoint that has been in my possession for years, uploaded it to Nearpod, and added polls, questions, and other interactive opportunities to make it come alive. The program is very user friendly. PowerPoint is compatible with Nearpod, and adding the interactive features was very easy. As I went through the first slideshow with the students, they were excited to see the real time data evolve as more students answered the questions. They enjoyed seeing other students’ opinions, and they always reacted when they instantly learned if their answer was correct. From my perspective, polls and questions that measured their understanding of Tree Diagrams was extremely valuable formative assessment data. It allowed me to make adjustments to my lesson right in the middle of instruction!
Pace is the most important aspect of Nearpod that teachers need to consider. The Live Session mode will allow you to dictate the pace, while the Homework mode allows the students to be in control. Teachers know the needs of their class, and should choose which mode to use accordingly. The Homework mode is what we want our students to be able to handle. It is especially useful for differentiation, as you could create various levels of your slideshow with more or less rigor. However, there are times when it is best for the teacher to be in charge of the content, which is what Nearpod was created for in the first place. Finally, Nearpod preserves the data students generate with their answer choices, and it can create valuable reports or even grades. This feature will help teachers hold the students accountable for their learning, and allows us to spend most of our time helping students correct misconceptions.
Conclusion: Overall, I was very happy with today’s learning experience. Nearpod was easy to use, and the students enjoyed the interactive nature of the lesson. The next time I use it, I want to add audio and use two differentiated versions of the slideshow. I can also envision students creating their own presentation to share with the class. In addition, we will probably use it one day in the next few weeks to answer STAAR practice questions, as the instant feedback will keep the students motivated and engaged. While the danger of Nearpod is the potential of simply giving each student a close-up view of your PowerPoint on their mobile device, there is real value in presenting new concepts and having the ability to engage and formatively assess your students. There is definitely a place for this app in my future digital classroom.